Help! Newborn Breaks Out of a Swaddle

Help! Newborn Breaks Out of a Swaddle

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It is common for the baby to fight swaddle.  Learn why they do that and what you need to do if your newborn breaks out of a swaddle.

The newborns are strange in a way that they can’t sleep without the warmth that swaddling provides and yet, breaks out of a swaddle.

Believe me, we had a newborn breaking out of swaddle situations all the time. And it could get little (a lot!) frustrating when you have worked hard to get your newborn to finally fall asleep and they wake up crying after 30 min because they managed to get their hand out of a swaddle and scratched themselves!                                  

After experiencing swaddle trouble with two of my babies, I think I am well versed in writing this article. I have done a lot of research about swaddling, why babies need it, and the best kind of swaddles out there to help stop your newborn breaking out of a swaddle.

In this article, I will share a few tips and tricks on how to stop a newborn breaking out of a swaddle while ensuring he is snug and calm!

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Why Newborn Breaks out of a Swaddle?

Most of the time, Newborn breaks out of swaddle just because they are not comfortable in a swaddle. So before trying to stop the baby from breaking out of a swaddle, let’s look at the most common reasons that make a baby uncomfortable in a swaddle.

  • Not being swaddled tight enough
  • They just want their hands out of the swaddle
  • They want their feet out of the swaddle
  • They are feeling too hot in the swaddle
  • Incorrect size of swaddling blanket
  • Swaddling too high that it touches their cheeks

Let’s get to bottom of these reasons and end this battle!

Newborn Not Being Swaddle Tight Enough

Newborn Breaks Out of a Swaddle - swaddled baby sleeping on white mattress

Swaddling is an ancient method of wrapping the baby to keep them calm and sleep more soundly. It helps the baby feel safe and secure as she adjusts to life outside the womb.

To give them a feel of a womb-like environment they need to be swaddled tightly around the chest and a little loose around the legs to give them room to move a bit.

When newborns are swaddled tight enough, it prevents them from flapping their arms and legs, which can trigger a startle reflex and cause them to wake up.

If a newborn is swaddled too loosely, there is a potential risk of suffocation hazard in case the blanket comes undone and covers the baby’s face. So, you want to make sure they are swaddled tight enough.

However, you also don’t want to swaddle them too tight that they can’t breathe. Keeping AAP’s safe sleep practice in mind, here are swaddling do’s and don’t, what you need to keep in mind while swaddling a newborn.

DO’s

  • Swaddle your baby using the proper swaddling technique (shown below in video)
  • Place swaddled baby on his back
  • Leave enough room for baby to bend the legs up and out at the hips
  • Leave two finger space between the baby’s chest and swaddling blanket
  • Use a light blanket to swaddle your baby
  • Keep their arms down by their side and not crossed in front of them. Preemies should be swaddled with their arms on their chest

DON’Ts

  • Don’t swaddle a baby too loosely that blanket comes undone
  • Don’t swaddle too tight around the chest, legs, and hips
  • Don’t place a swaddled baby on his chest
  • Don’t use a think blanket to swaddle your baby
  • Don’t swaddle your baby when they start rolling over

Check out this video that demonstrates how to swaddle a newborn

How to tell if Baby is Swaddled too Tightly?

When you are looking for ways to stop your newborn breaking out of the swaddle, the most common advice you get is ‘swaddle them tightly’. But there is always a question, is baby swaddled tight enough?

Here is a quick tip to tell if a baby is swaddled too tightly.

Place two fingers between the baby’s chest and the swaddle. If there is just enough room for your two fingers between their chest and the swaddle, they are not swaddled too tightly.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an affiliate and amazon associate, I earn commission on qualified purchase at no extra cost to you.

Baby wants Hands out of the Swaddle

Newborn Breaks Out of a Swaddle -baby swaddled in blue blanket with one hand out

Swaddling the baby’s arm by their side is beneficial to their quality of sleep, as it keeps baby from scratching and smacking their face all night. But some babies are just so stubborn that they find a way to break out of their swaddle.

Once your baby continuously works their arm out of the swaddle, and if this isn’t waking them up at night, you may want to start leaving their arms out of a swaddle. Start with one hand at a time and see how the baby reacts. Next thing you know, that is all you needed to do to stop them breaking out of the swaddle!

But if that doesn’t work and you still want to keep your baby in a swaddle, which is the best idea, to make sure that they are not waking up every startle, you may want to try the Love to Dream swaddle.

This 100% organic Love to Dream swaddle is great in a way that it allows you to swaddle a baby with their arms up. Although it is not as tight as a regular swaddling blanket, it does keep them warm and snug. This swaddle has worked wonder for many babies who fought swaddling banket.

My second one was such a wiggly worm, no matter what I did, he hated being swaddled. He even was not happy with Love to dream swaddle and I had to say goodbye to swaddle altogether too early (when he was 6 weeks old)! But to keep him warm at night without a swaddle, we used a sleep sack and it worked wonder for us.

Every baby is different and what works for one baby may not work for others. So, keep trying until you find the right match for your little one!

Baby wants their Feet out of the Swaddle

Few babies do not like when they are wrapped around their leg. If you think your baby is fighting the swaddle because of it, you may want while swaddling for baby to bend the legs up and put at the hips. It can be as simple as this!

But if your baby is a real fighter and can not stand wrapped up the leg at all, then you may want to try Embe 2-way Starter swaddle. This swaddle is great in the way that it has a separable leg pouch that you can easily unsnap if you do not want your baby’s leg covered. This swaddle keeps your baby’s upper body wrapped up and allows leg out.

There are also other options like a swaddle strap available at amazon which allows only the baby’s upper body swaddled. Although swaddle strap may not give them the flexibility that traditional swaddle gives, but worth a try to get them to sleep for longer stretches at night.

Incorrect Size of Swaddling Blanket

Using the correct size of the blanket is important for swaddling a baby because the small blanket will unravel with a little bit of force from the baby. If you have a very big blanket then you will find lots of extra material to tuck in when you are swaddling your baby at her chest and all those extra material will make your baby uncomfortable.

You want to choose a swaddling blanket that is 44×44 or 47×47 inches. This size is just enough to swaddle them without worrying about extra material to tuck in while swaddling them.  

Also, the material of a swaddling blanket is as important to protect them from overheating. Always prefer swaddling blankets that are made from organic cotton or muslin fabric. They are lightweight and breathable. Also, organic cotton material unsure that you are protecting your newborn’s skin from toxic chemicals that are used in making regular fabric. Here is an excellent article about organic blankets for babies. This post explains everything you need to know before purchasing a blanket for your baby.

But if you have a smaller baby, you may want to consider a smaller size swaddling blanket to avoid bulkiness while swaddling.

Swaddling too high that it touches Newborn’s cheeks

When you swaddle your baby too high from their shoulder, it touches their cheeks and that can start rooting reflex. They may start looking for nipples and cry in frustration. So, you want to ensure that you swaddle them from the shoulder and not too high that it touches their cheeks.

Is It Normal for my Newborn to Not Like being Swaddled?

Many babies do not like to be swaddled anymore once they are more active. It happens usually when they are 2-3-month-old. So, it is normal for a newborn to not like being swaddled. Before you completely abandon the swaddle, try to figure out why they don’t like to be swaddled. It could be as small as a swaddle touching their face or they are wanting their hands or legs out of the swaddle.

Should you Swaddle a Newborn with Arms up or down?

When you are first learning to swaddle a baby, it is recommended to swaddle them with their arms down and to the side. This will prevent them from breaking out of the swaddle.

The only exception is for premature babies, they should be swaddled with their arm crossed on their chest.

Should Babies Legs be straight when Swaddled?

Baby’s leg should be bent up and out at the hips while swaddled. It allows them to move when swaddled and also necessary for natural hip development.

Is it OK to keep Baby Swaddled while Feeding?

You should not keep your baby swaddled while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. This is because they get too comfy in their swaddle and doze off while nursing without getting enough to eat. For some drowsy newborns, keeping them in only diaper is recommend to keep them awake and alert while feeding.

Do you Keep Newborn Swaddled all day?

The newborn should not be swaddled all day. Swaddling gives them a signal for sleep. Swaddling provides a womb-like environment for them to sleep better. So, swaddle them only for naps and night sleep. You want to allow them to use their hands and feet freely while they are awake.

Conclusion

I hope this post has given you an idea of what to do if your newborn breaks out of a swaddle. It could be as easy as swaddling them tight or keeping swaddle away from their face to stop them from breaking out of a swaddle.

If those two tracks do not work, and your baby breaks out a swaddle but can’t sleep without it, you may need to try Love to Dream swaddle or Embe 2-way starter swaddle and give them some freedom so they can sleep for a longer stretch at night!

Please let us know what you did to stop your baby from breaking out of the swaddle. Leave your comment below.


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4 thoughts on “Help! Newborn Breaks Out of a Swaddle”

  1. I first learned about the newborn swaddle when I watched Shark Tank and it just blew my mind. I am sure it must be frustrating that not only they have to feed every 3 hours or so, they still break out of their swaddle in the process. Thanks for sharing the tips on how to swaddle the newborn properly. I will be sure to share this with my sister since she is expecting soon. 

  2. I strongly recommend that you swaddle your child, if possible, during the four-month sleep regression. This means that the sleep regression would be less likely to be seen, and if you have witnessed this, if already swaddled, you should settle your child to sleep with hands-on effective strategies. When your baby starts to roll back-tummy, you will need to “unswaddle” instantly and spend for a few months in proper protection sleep to keep your baby from rolling back to the tummy in his / her bed swaddle.

    1. Thank you for sharing your tips about four-month regression. I agree that baby who don’t mind swaddling at four-month, are less likely to see sleep regression. I babies didn’t like swaddle when they were little active so swaddling didn’t last last 2 month of age. So sleep regression was real for us. But it gets better! 

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