Newborns usually sleep the longest and best when their arms are straight down at their sides. As they get older, their arms will naturally relax by their sides instead of crisscross at their chest. In the womb, though their arms are bent at first, after a week or two the arms naturally become straighter!
With a little patience and perseverance, babies who once resisted a tight swaddle give in to the warm snug feeling and sleep much better.
It's actually common for new babies to resist swaddling. It can make parents 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's why we naturally cuddle babies snuggle and use our arms to keep them from flailing about. (We literally swaddle them with our arms!)
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. So, if your little Houdini manages to escape our swaddles without fail, don't worry.
Luckily, we have some tricks you can try!
Step 1: Lay your baby down on a folded thin blanket or cloth diaper, with the SNOO Sack laid beneath them(unzipped).
Step 2: Then, fold one side of the blanket over your baby's arm and underneath her body.
Step 3: Repeat on the other side.
Step 4: Now, the blanket secures both of your baby’s arms down. Pull the SNOO Sack’s bands across the chest, keeping your baby's arms straight at the sides. Make sure the band is snug and down over ½ of the hands (covering at least the knuckles).
Step 5: Lift the bottom of the SNOO Sack up and around their feet and zip the zipper all the way to the top.
Your baby is now snugly in their sack and ready to be placed in SNOO!
So, while your baby may fuss at first…swaddling is super valuable for 98+% of babies, and the benefits are huge! To help your little one get used to the snug feeling of a swaddle, introduce these tips to your daily routine:
- Swaddle Before Feeding: After feeding, there is a good chance your baby is feeling relaxed and cozy. Sometimes, swaddling your baby can stir them awake again. So, try swaddling in the SNOO sack before feeding your baby. This can help prevent them from being stirred awake after their feeding and can also create a positive association with being swaddled.
- 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 they fall asleep in your arms) before placing them in SNOO
- Offer a pacifier!
- Boost SNOO's Motion + Sound: Once down, immediately boost SNOO to the purple or green level (manually or with the App). This added motion/sound often helps babies settle. Or up SNOO's starting level, here's how!
Older babies, usually around 4-5 months, have more coordination and can sleep well with one or both hands-free. So if your newborn has reached that age or is able to roll during tummy time unassisted, test out releasing one arm at a time and see how they fair! If they start sleeping well, this means they were just ready for a little freedom now that they are older.