Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Swaddling Reviews

Since we brought the little Wombat home, we have tried many different things to help him sleep comfortably. Many things help, like having a steady routine every night, walking outside with the baby or bathing the baby before bedtime, feeding right before, etc, etc. But the one thing that is absolutely crucial is swaddling. With it, sleeps like.... well, a baby. Without it, resembles a windmill with arms flying all over the place and wakes himself up with jerk movements.

We tried almost every swaddle on the market, and we have a very clear favorite. Here is a quick review of the swaddles we tried with their benefits and issues.... hope you find it useful!

General Swaddling Info
You can swaddle the baby in any piece of fabric. What makes these swaddles special is their special adaptations to make the wrapping easier. The simplest adaptation is.... being square! A square blanket is better for swaddling because, just like in origami, it lends itself to easy symmetry when folding. :) Here are some good instructions on swaddling folds.

Next come blankets that have been specially engineered for swaddling - beyond the square. They usually consist of a pouch of some sort and then one or two "wing" ends, which are intended to keep your baby's arms down at baby's sides, Army-style. This is important because young babies fling their arms around in their sleep, and will wake themselves up with their own arm motions. At the same time, their legs should be allowed to move freely - all the blankets reviewed here have leg pouches that are wide and will not constrain your baby's little footsies. :)

Square Swaddling Blankets
A good plain-square-piece of fabric swaddle is Adan&Anais swaddling blankets. These blankets are muslin and will keep baby warm when its chilly and cool when it's hot. There are lots of other swaddling blankets sold, and you can simply make one yourself by getting a square piece of any fabric.

  • Can be the cheapest option (depending on your choice of fabric of course); you can also make one yourself.
  • Can be used as a burp cloth, sitting blanket, general purpose blanket.... you get the idea.
It's a bit tough to get the baby to stay in the swaddle. You will need to tie this blanket with ribbon once the swaddle is done. There is absolutely no way in the universe you are going to secure that blanket to itself otherwise. Your little one is going to wiggle his way out, and you will find him in the morning either a) wearing only a diaper, waving his arms all over the place and turning a shade of chilly blue, or b) having pulled the fabric up over his face and freaking you out with the potential breathing issues.

"Winged" Swaddling Blankets
Miracle Blanket

This blanket was our least favorite. It works by pulling fabric over baby's arms, and tucking it under baby's back for arm containment. There is nothing actually holding the blanket together, other then the weight of the baby. Well, our Wombat got his arms out of that in no time by rocking himself side to side and pulling arms out at the same time. We read reviews on Amazon that said other people's babies couldn't get out of this blanket - clearly, those babies do not have engineering in their genes. Ours does and so is using the laws of physics to his advantage. :)

  • Light cotton material; won't overheat baby.
  • Many colors available.
  • The swaddle is difficult to get right (for us, anyway). It disturbs the baby with how many pieces have to be tucked under and around him, and easily comes undone.
  • There is no mechanism for securing the fabric other then simply tucking it under the kid. Rest assured the kid will get it untucked. :)
  • A bit pricey: $30.
The company promises that your little one will not wiggle out of this swaddle. While that was true, our little one did manage to loosen it, and then push it up onto his face. I felt uncomfortable waking up and seeing the swaddle covering up his mouth and nose.... and sometimes had to stay up watching him sleep to make sure the swaddle did not interfere with his breathing.

  • Velcro attachment makes it impossible for baby to completely unswaddle.
  • The material is thick cotton (not fleece), which is great if you are looking for a slightly thicker swaddle.
  • The velcro is not quite in the right place. The blanket wraps around the baby like a spiral, up to his face, and secures the last piece of blanket on his chest. Frequently, Wombat would wiggle enough that the swaddle would loosen at the velcro attachment, ride up on him and cover up his face. It would not come completely undone, but still, a baby with a blanket over his face is not good. It happened no matter how tightly we tried to wrap him.
  • The Velcro is rough. If somehow your baby manages to get the velcro up against his skin, he could irritate his skin by rubbing up against the velcro I guess.
  • Also pricey: $40.

This swaddle is the best we've found. Everything about it is great. There are 2 pieces of velcro: one on the body pouch, and another on one of the wings. The velcro is soft but strong, and most importantly, the placement of velcro makes the blanket very easy and safe to put on. You simply wrap the wings around baby's body and arms and secure with velcro as tightly as your baby likes. Our Wombat has not been able to wiggle out of this one!

  • Comes in 3 fabric options: Light cotton, cotton flannel and micro-fleece.
  • Has lots of color choices if you care about that sort of thing.
  • Velcro is in all the right places!
  • Velcro is very soft and would not irritate skin even if the baby somehow managed to get in contact with it.
  • Should the swaddle somehow come undone (never happened for us), there doesn't seem to be any possibility of it riding up on baby's face; it would just fall to the sides. The wings are too short to pose that danger.
  • It has an access slot in the back so you can swaddle the baby in the carseat (although we never needed to do that).
  • Easy and quick to put on baby, resulting in least displeasure from Wombat. :) No need to tuck fabric around his arms or under his back or any other contortionist procedures.
  • Price! $10-12. Readily available in lots of shops, including large chains like Buy Buy Baby.
Cons: None.

:) That's it! Wrap'em up! :)


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