It's common for new babies to resist swaddling. It can make you think, My baby hates to be wrapped! Of course, you would probably hate to be swaddled, but adults would also hate to live in a womb for 9 months or to drink milk—as their only food—for every single meal, but babies love all of this.
Moms in cultures all around the world have swaddled their sleeping babies—arms down—for thousands of years…because it works! Remember, babies don’t really need freedom—they need to feel snug and secure like they did in the womb. That why we naturally cuddle babies snuggly…and use our arms to keep them from flailing about. (We literally swaddle them with our arms!)
Here are a few tips to help your baby settle if she doesn’t love being wrapped:
Swaddle very snuggly…arms down: When your baby is awake, it’s fine to keep the arms out (or swaddled with arms bent up), but during sleep that will lead to more startles and accidental whacks to the face—and more waking. And, if your little Houdini’s arms sneak out of the inner bands or bend up at the elbow…sleep will usually fall apart. Check out our swaddling trick to help you keep her arms from sneaking out.
Do a little calming routine. After you secure your baby in the SNOO Sack, here are a few things to help her relax and settle:
- Play a strong white noise in the background (about as loud as a shower)
- Do a feeding
- Rock and cuddle your baby (it’s fine if she falls asleep in your arms) before placing her in SNOO
- Offer a paci
- Once down, immediately boost SNOO to the purple or green level (manually or with the App). This added motion/sound often helps babies settle.
Lock SNOO on a higher level. Some babies find the normal blue baseline level too boring. They like it when SNOO’s level is increased, but fuss when the bed cycles back down. Try locking SNOO on the purple or green level and keeping it there all night. (It’s like lulling your baby to sleep by driving her in your car all night…but safer and less polluting.)
Swaddling is key to good sleep, but it is just the first step of getting your baby ready to calm. Once your baby’s arms are snug and down, she can better focus on the rest of the 5 S’s (sound, motion, sucking, side/stomach), which turn on the calming reflex and soothe your baby’s fussing.
So, while your baby may fuss at first…swaddling is super valuable for 98+% of babies, and the benefits are huge!