Let’s talk about swaddles. And newborns. Because what’s a swaddle without a newborn? Just a tiny, useless piece of material. But I probably didn’t need to answer my own rhetorical question… It is common knowledge that swaddling newborns for sleep is a thing. And it’s somewhat common knowledge that this swaddling of your newborn happens for nighttime sleep. But a question I get asked a lot is “should I swaddle a newborn for naps?”
There are a few pieces to this question that I’m going to break down for you in this post:
- Why you should swaddle your newborn for naps
- How to safely swaddle your newborn
- How many hours your newborn should be swaddled per day
- What swaddles are best for naps
Why You Should Swaddle Your Newborn for Naps
There are two main reasons why it’s a great idea to swaddle your newborn for naps.
1. The Moro Reflex
Newborns have the Moro reflex. The Moro reflex means that their arms and legs jerk and flail, which disrupts them if they are sleeping or about to fall asleep. Usually, in response to a noise, movement, or their own cries, they throw their arms and legs out, cry, and then pull their arms and legs back in.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds like something that would definitely wake me up from a nap. Which is why the swaddle is a fantastic solution. It keeps your newborn snug so if their Moro reflex is triggered, it won’t wake them up.
2. Recreate the Womb
Newborns love when their eternal environment mimics the environment of the womb. They love a soothing whooshing noise, darkness, and being snug and warm for sleep. This is why a snug swaddle will help your newborn take a nice long nap. (To learn more about safely swaddling your newborn, see the next section below).
Check out these 4 tips for swaddling your newborn by clicking here or on the image below:
3 Tips to Safely Swaddle Your Newborn for Naps
There are a few safety points to keep in mind when you are swaddling your newborn.
It is important that your baby does not overheat, so use baby clothing and a swaddle that is appropriate for their room temperature. The general rule of thumb is to keep the room temperature around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and to dress your baby in one light layer under the swaddle.
2. Safe sleep and hip movement
When swaddling your newborn it is important to make sure that the swaddle is snug enough that it will not come loose and move up to potentially restrict breathing, and it is also important to not swaddle your newborn too snugly that it restricts hip movement. Your baby should not be able to wiggle out of the swaddle but they should still be able to move their hips. Check out my swaddle tutorial here, or watch my Instagram Reel below!
3. Dropping the Swaddle
We know that we need to put our babies to sleep on their backs to keep them safe. So for safety reasons, you need to stop using a swaddle once your baby shows signs of rolling. This is because it would be very unsafe if your baby rolled onto their stomach when they were swaddled and were not able to roll back over to their back. For more information on how and when to transition your newborn out of a swaddle, check out my blog post: “Swaddles vs Sleep Sacks”.
How many hours should a newborn be swaddled?
Newborns should only be swaddled when they are sleeping. This is for two reasons:
- Positive sleep association
Your newborn needs lots of time to move around, explore their environment and participate in tummy time. For these reasons, your baby should not be swaddled when they are awake.
The swaddle also acts as a positive sleep association. This means that if you consistently use a swaddle safely for both naps and nighttime sleep, your baby will associate it with sleep! Just like how you create your own sleep associations (whether you know it or not) to help your body wind down and drift off to sleep. Some examples of my positive sleep associations are comfy pajamas, washing my face, brushing my teeth, and
mindlessly scrolling Instagram, listening to mediations podcasts.
So, just as the AAP states, as long as you are correctly swaddling your newborn, they are not showing signs of rolling, and it is just for naps and nighttime sleep, then it can be an effective technique to help your newborn sleep.
What swaddles are best for naps?
Can we review just how many different types of swaddles and sleep sacks there are out there?! From zipping, to wrapping, to Velcroing, to buttoning, it reads like a who’s who of superhero characters.
I personally recommend a swaddle blanket for the early newborn days, and you can watch my tutorial on how to use a swaddle blanket correctly here. Once your baby is getting too squirmy for a blanket, I recommend switching to a Velcro swaddle.
In my blog post “Swaddles vs Sleep Sacks” I break down everything you need to know to choose the right swaddle for your baby, plus I clear up the equally big and confusing world of Sleep Sacks!
Recap on Swaddling a Newborn for Naps
So to answer your question, YES! Yes, you should swaddle your newborn for naps!
Swaddles are a safe and effective way to create a positive sleep association and help your newborn feel safe, snug, and calm so they can get all the sleep they need.
And on the topic of newborns getting all the sleep they need, have you checked out my Newborn Course yet? It’s pure gold! (If I do say so myself.) I give you all the knowledge and confidence you need for great newborn sleep.
I also talk about tricky babies, feeding, calming tricks, and so much more! You can grab the Newborn Course here!