June 16, 2017

How To Swaddle a Fussy Baby (With Step by Step Instructions)

Updated July 16th, 2018

How do you swaddle a high needs baby? Fast. That’s how.

Most of our high needs babies hate being swaddled. But we learned the hard way – sometimes it’s not the baby being difficult. Usually a shitty swaddling technique is to blame. Or it may be something completely unrelated. The point is, keep believing in the swaddle. The swaddle believes in you!

This Hungry Hungry Caterpillar ain’t happy but it’s not the swaddle’s fault. Spot the tongue tie?
Photo credit

To get started:

  • Get a big baby blanket. Any large, light blanket (about 50in x 50in or 1.2m x 1.2m) will do until you’re comfortable with swaddling and need to upgrade to something nicer.

Related: Best Swaddles for a High Needs Baby

  • ¬†Swaddles are best for night-time, not daytime naps. Haha! Naps! WTF is a nap!
  • Try a few swaddle techniques and adapt them to your baby (and your sanity)
  • Practice on a sack of potatoes. Bonus points if the potatoes are screaming

There are 3 Basic Swaddle Techniques

    1. The Hands-Up Swaddle
    2. The Arms Across Chest Swaddle
    3. The Arms Straight Down Swaddle

  1. The Hands-Up Swaddle

    This is our all-time favorite swaddle. It gives high needs babies the feeling that they’re in control of the situation.

    Science Break: When babies are in the womb their hands are near their face all the time (there’s only so much room in there, ya know?). After they’re born, their arms begin to relax to their sides and they’ll only pull them back to their face when upset. Trying to go to sleep when you’re a tiny thing in a big breezy world is an upsetting experience. So hands-near-face is a soothing action.

    (Also this woman’s Aussie accent is pretty cute, check it out)

  2. The Arms-Across-Chest Swaddle (aka The Angel Wrap)

    Another Aussie! Well, she has twins so if anyone knows her baby-tying techniques it’s going to be this woman!


    The Classic Swaddle (aka Arms Down Swaddle)

    The arms-straight-down swaddle is the most common swaddle we’ll see in English-speaking countries. There are a ton of ways you can do this swaddle but this swaddle uses a large muslin AND a small receiving blanket to get those little arms tucked in tight. This is the most secure method of executing the Classic Swaddle that we’ve found. It’s also the swaddle that high needs babies seem to hate the most but hey, you might get some mileage out of it

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