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How Many Swaddles Do I Need: Complete Guide to Swaddling

Wendy Turner
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How Many Swaddles Do I Need

As a new mother, it is hard to anticipate your baby’s every need. It becomes even more of a problem when you think of adding items to the registry that you might need later on.

Most parents would agree that it is better to take the help of an expert while deciding on questions like how many swaddles do I need. This will help them build a registry that they find useful.

Asking your mother, aunts, or older cousins about their opinions might not give you a solid answer when it comes to swaddling. Everyone has their own methods, and all the info will only make you question when to start, stop, and what swaddle to use.

But in this article, we have outlined every swaddle-related question you might have, along with precise answers.

What is Swaddling?

Taking care of newborns is hard, especially when you think of the number of items they need just to be comfortable. One of the first things that come to mind while talking of newborns is swaddles. They spend most of their time sleeping, so creating a warm and comfortable environment is necessary.

Here is where swaddles come into play. These clothing items are a thin blanket that is wrapped tightly around a newborn’s body. It aims at recreating the cozy and warm feeling of the womb for the baby, helping them sleep better. The art of swaddling a baby so that they can’t wriggle but are comfortable has been around for centuries.

What is Swaddling

Swaddling is extremely beneficial for newborns as it serves more than one purpose. For one, it replaces normal blankets, which might lead to suffocation hazards in the baby. By wrapping it tightly, the swaddles ensure proper warmth safely.

It is also important to know that babies have an innate reflex called the Moro reflex. That means if a baby is startled, they will throw back their head and extend their arms and legs. And that is sure to wake them up and make them cry. But if you swaddle them, it will keep them from startling easily. The swaddle keeps the arms and legs tightly by their side for that peaceful nap.

Difference Between the Types of Swaddles

Along with questions like how many swaddles do I need, you will need to find out about the different kinds of swaddles. Broadly speaking, you will find two types of swaddles in the market. The first is the traditional swaddle, which is a large, thick blanket that will also be soft and stretchable. They are made from different kinds of materials like muslin, cotton, or even bamboo.

The other kind of swaddle is a hybrid one that performs more than one function. The two-in-one swaddles will let you wrap your baby any way you want, whether with hands in, out, up, or down.

Making a tight swaddle is a hard thing to master at first. And while you can ask a midwife to show you traditional swaddles, the hybrid swaddles are much easier. They usually have attaching systems in place, like zippers or snaps, that keep the swaddle secure. These attachments also make swaddling easier at the beginning.

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Another swaddle of a sort to remember would be receiving blankets. They were used to wrap the baby once it was born, usually right after delivery. The large blankets kept the babies warm as they were handed to their mothers. Receiving blankets are also larger than traditional swaddles, and they can be used for several activities like burping or diaper change.

How Many Swaddles Do I Need for My Baby?

The number of swaddles you would need during the early months varies according to preferences. Your baby will also have a strong say on whether they like swaddles or not. A safe bet would be 3 swaddles. But you can also try out a few types and see how your baby receives them.

Adding traditional as well as two-in-one swaddles to your registry will help you cover all the bases. You can also ask around and see if your friends or relatives have their old swaddles around for you to try. As you test them out, you can distinguish the ones your baby loves and then stock up.

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During the first few weeks, doing laundry will become a problem as well. That is why it is advised to have a couple of safety options that are clean during emergencies. Babies are known to spew all kinds of bodily fluids, so keep stock.

Here is a comprehensive list of swaddles you can keep to cover all bases.

  • Hospital-Style Blankets– Having 2 of these is great for keeping your newborn tucked in.
  • Aesthetic Swaddle Blankets– Having 1 or 2 pretty and high-quality blankets will make sure the photos come out great.
  • Utility Swaddles– Keep about 5 traditional swaddles, which will be the ones you use all the time. Try getting hand-me-downs so you don’t feel guilty about using them as diaper-changing pads.
  • Swaddle Sacks– Keeping 2 hybrid swaddles will help make early morning tucks easier on the parents.

Swaddles for Night vs. Day

While thinking of how many swaddles do I need, keep in mind that night-time swaddles need backups. At any point, there may be leaky diapers that lead to emergencies. So you do not need to wash the swaddle in the middle of the night and just put the baby to sleep.

Overhead view of parents with newborn daughter sitting on bed at home

Traditional muslin blankets are great for daytime use as you can wrap your baby loosely in them. On the other hand, the sack-style swaddles work well at night when they are sleeping by themselves. The traditional muslin ones may unravel due to their movements, but the sack-style ones do not shift.

Is it Safe to Swaddle a Baby?

The idea of swaddling often brings to mind whether they are truly safe. Wrapping a baby tightly in a piece of cloth without giving it room to wriggle seems harsh. But the truth is, babies often love the feeling. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), swaddling is perfectly safe when done correctly.

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You also have to make sure the swaddle, while comfortable, is not too tight. And newborns always have to be on their backs when they are put to sleep. Keep this in mind as you ponder how many swaddles do I need, that having a handful is a safe bet. And with plenty of swaddles, you will not have to use big blankets and risk suffocation.

Is it Necessary to Swaddle?

Swaddling a baby has ancient roots that deal with keeping them snug and warm. But that doesn’t mean that a swaddle is strictly necessary. Many babies have no trouble falling asleep without them, while others love being swaddled. If your baby shows signs of dislike towards being tightly wrapped, you can skip the swaddling.

So when the question arises, how many swaddles do I need? Keep in mind that you may not need one at all. You may think of not buying brand-new ones, but it is better to check them out first. Buying inexpensive swaddles or getting some hand-me-downs is a great way to judge whether your baby needs swaddles or not.

Do Babies Need Swaddling Every Time They are Put to Sleep?

Along with how many swaddles do I need, this question also depends on the personal preference of the parents. It is not necessary to swaddle newborns every time they take a nap. During the first few weeks, your baby is sure to spend most of its time sleeping.

Do Babies Need Swaddling Every Time They are Put to Sleep

But if you are hoping to establish a strict bedtime routine, swaddling is the ultimate addition to it. As you continue swaddling, it will make your baby relate the swaddle to the feeling of calmness that comes before sleep. In a time pinch, you can skip the step. However, establishing the routine would ultimately be beneficial in the long run.

How Long Should I Swaddle My Baby?

Swaddling may feel like a great way to make your baby go to sleep, but that stage doesn’t last forever. A baby usually outgrows their swaddle by the time they learn to roll over. The movements themselves make the swaddle useless as the baby gains better control of their limbs. It is at this time that you have to stop swaddling to make sure there is no risk.

How Long Should I Swaddle My Baby

Babies outgrow swaddles around the 3 to 4-month mark. So remember that while thinking about how many swaddles do I need. And even if the hybrid swaddles become obsolete, then the traditional blankets remain useful.

How Long Does it Take for Babies to Adjust without a Swaddle?

Swaddles provide a warm and comfortable environment for the baby where it may sleep without disturbance. It also makes them sleep for longer durations. And so transitioning them off of the swaddle seems daunting from the get-go. But if you give them a few weeks, you will see that they have adapted to the new arrangement quite fast.

While making the baby adjust to sleeping without swaddles, it is better to start slow. Make them nap without swaddles, and only use it during nighttime. In your baby’s wardrobe, the two-in-one swaddles will be helpful as you can keep the baby’s arm free. These small steps will help you move on from the swaddle.

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How Many Swaddles Do I Need to Bring to the Hospital

If you are about to head to the hospital to give birth to your beautiful baby, do not bother with a swaddle. The hospital includes blankets within the care they provide, and they are sure to send you home with one. You can take one for aesthetic purposes, to click a picture and capture the precious moment in a pretty blanket. However, keep in mind that it might end up getting lost in the hospital laundry.

How to Dress a Baby Under a Swaddle

The baby’s clothes underneath the swaddle depend on several factors. First is the climate of your place, as well as the season. Then comes the kind of swaddle you are using. For newborns and premature babies, they do not have enough body fat to keep them warm enough. So, babies cannot regulate their body temperature without the help of warmer clothes.

In these cases, it is important to dress them a little more warmly than you feel at the same temperature. A rule of thumb would be one more layer than what you have on. Be it day or night, you can follow this rule to keep your baby comfortable.

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Most mothers feel that a single layer underneath the swaddle is enough to make sure the baby sleeps well. But if you live in colder climates or the rooms get cold, your baby will need a lot more warmth. So you can dress them in a long-sleeved footie before swaddling.

However, in hotter climates, a footie would overheat them. So get a long or short-sleeved bodysuit for nighttime as well as the naps. Just keep in mind that the temperature of the nursery should ideally be between 68 and 72 degrees. You can adjust the clothes accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Swaddles can be complicated for new parents to figure out on their own. The questions are many, from how many swaddles do I need to when the swaddling should stop. However, the answers to these questions are fairly subjective. Your baby will decide by themselves which kind of swaddle they like. So, keep a couple of options ready as you try them out.

You will also need to remember that different swaddles achieve different results. But keeping a couple of sturdy utility swaddles, along with some aesthetic ones, is a safe bet. The Hospital-Style blankets will also provide a great tuck for babies.

Let us know how many swaddles you will add to your registry in the comments below!

Wendy Turner
Wendy Turner

As a certified pediatric nurse with a Master's in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University, Wendy Turner has enriched various content since 2018. She also holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Yale University. Her focus is on sleep training and creating effective bedtime routines for children. She also conducts groundbreaking studies on child sleep patterns. Wendy is a children's book author in her spare time, focusing on stories that soothe and prepare children for sleep.

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