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Swaddling is an age-old practice that involves wrapping an infant securely in a blanket from the neck down. Both their arms and legs are tucked in tightly.

The technique is meant to mimic the way a baby is positioned in the womb — with little-to-no space for their arms or legs to flail around.

Keeping a baby wrapped in a swaddle helps reduce the startle reflex, aka the Moro reflex. This is an involuntary response to being startled by anything from a sudden sound to no reason at all. It disappears by 3 to 6 months old, but it can really prevent sleep during those first few weeks and months at home.

Not only does swaddling intend to help your little one sleep longer and more soundly, but it also might help you score some much-needed Zzz’s as well.

You can swaddle a baby from the day they are born, although experts recommend allowing newborns plenty of time for skin-to-skin contact during the early days of life.

The best time to swaddle a baby is when it’s time for them to go to sleep, whether that’s for a nap or through the night.

Swaddling is not necessary for every baby, but it can be helpful for some. Being tightly wrapped may help them feel snug and secure (like they’re back in the womb) and help keep them from startling themselves awake.

Be sure to place healthy infants on their backs when they sleep. This is the safest position for an infant to sleep, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

This is especially true for babies who are swaddled. In fact, the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) may increase for babies who are placed on their stomachs or sides to sleep while swaddled, according to the AAP. This may also happen if baby rolls onto their tummy while swaddled, per 2017 research.

You’ll want to stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows signs of trying to roll over, the AAP says. This is usually between 2 and 4 months of age. This is very important for safe sleeping.

Currently, there is no specific guidance on how many hours you can leave your baby swaddled at a given time. But young babies need frequent feedings and diaper changes, so a good rule of thumb is to unswaddle your baby for these things.

In fact, experts recommend only swaddling your baby when they are going to sleep. As noted above, it’s important to place your swaddled baby on their back when it’s time to sleep. Again, this is the safest position for infants, according to the AAP.

Like most types of baby gear, swaddles are not one-size-fits-all. There are many different types, and you may notice that some work better than others for your baby in particular.

Here are the two main types:

  • Traditional blanket swaddles. These are simply large and soft blankets that you can wrap your baby up in using a swaddling technique. They can also serve other purposes — a blanket or burp cloth, for example — once your baby is no longer swaddling. Make sure your infant is swaddled securely so they can’t roll, nor can the blanket become loose and create a suffocation risk.
  • Swaddling sacks. For new parents who don’t have the swaddling technique down pat, these are much more appealing. They’re set up to basically swaddle your baby for you thanks to snaps, Velcro, and zippers.

To create this list, we reached out to new parents to learn what swaddle blankets and devices they found most useful over the course of their baby’s first few months.

We also relied heavily on customer reviews and ratings to understand what features they liked most (and what they didn’t).

Some of the items mentioned can be used as blankets as your baby grows.

Here are the best of the bunch of baby swaddles that will help your whole family score more snooze time.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $30
  • $$ = $30–$40
  • $$$ = $40–$50
  • $$$$ = over $50

Best swaddle blanket overall

aden + anais Cotton Muslin Swaddle

  • Price: $$$
  • Pros: Beautiful, soft, breathable, washable, can be used as your child grows
  • Cons: There’s a learning curve to correctly wrapping these swaddles

When it comes to swaddling, you can’t really go wrong with basic. After all, this is how your parents and grandparents were likely swaddled when they were babies! These fan-favorite swaddle blankets from aden + anais are large, soft, and made from breathable 100 percent cotton muslin.

These machine-washable swaddles are sold in sets of four and come in over two dozen fun prints that you can coordinate with your baby’s nursery. Parents say they’re great for swaddling, but also that their littles love using them as blankies as they get older, too.

Best swaddle for newborns

Happiest Baby Sleepea 5-Second Baby Swaddle

  • Price: $$
  • Pros: Simple to use, soft, baby can’t wiggle out, easy access for diapering
  • Cons: May need to repurchase frequently as baby grows

Designed by Dr. Harvey Karp, inventor of the 5 S’s for soothing a baby, comes this sack-style swaddle that claims to keep your baby asleep for longer periods of time — and based on the reviews, it lives up to the hype.

The Sleepea swaddle is made from 100 percent organic cotton and features breathable mesh panels, a Velcro escape-proof closure, and a two-way zipper that opens both at the top and bottom for easy diaper changes.

The best part? It’s practically foolproof to put on, which new and sleep-deprived parents and caregivers can appreciate.

People rave about the Sleepea but warn that you might need to buy a variety of sizes to get the right fit as you keep up with your growing baby. However, when the fit is right, they say that even the most Houdini-like babies were wiggle-free.

Best sleep sack

Gunamuna Sleep Bag Premium Duvet

  • Price: $$$
  • Pros: Warm, zips open for diapering, arms out means this can be used for older babies
  • Cons: Some babies may not prefer the weighted bag, not as durable as expected

Once your baby ages up a few months, you’ll need a swaddle that allows their arms to hang out to keep them safe in case they turn over mid-snooze. And while this option from Gunamuna definitely offers more wiggle room, it’s not for a lack of features.

The Gunamuna Sleep Bag is made from a down-alternative fill and wrapped in a soft viscose fabric made from bamboo. It has a four-way zipper that allows for easy diaper changes and includes gentle weights evenly distributed around it to mimic mom’s soothing hold.

Parents and caregivers of older babies say it’s great for keeping their little one warm and snoozing longer. But a handful of folks mention that they’re not super durable, which can be frustrating for the price.

Best budget-friendly swaddle wrap

CuddleBug Swaddle

  • Price: $
  • Pros: Affordable, easy to use, soft, washable
  • Cons: Shrinks after washing

Not only does this pack of three swaddle blanket wraps have outstanding ratings and reviews, but it is typically available for less than $20! CuddleBug swaddle wraps have Velcro wings that hug your baby tightly while they snooze and are made without any hard-to-use zippers, buttons, or snaps.

Truly, folks seem to love these swaddles. The only catch is that some reviewers say the blanket shrinks in the wash after a few rounds, which makes it difficult to properly wrap baby afterward.

Best swaddle with wiggle room

HALO SleepSack Swaddle 100% Cotton

  • Price: $
  • Pros: Easy to use, allows hip movement, can be used as a regular sleep sack once baby can roll
  • Cons: May not be tight enough for some babies

If you’d rather not fuss with wrapping, this is the swaddle for you. HALO makes swaddling a two-step process thanks to the easy-to-use Velcro design. All you have to do is zip your baby up in the swaddle sack and then wrap each Velcro wing over their body while keeping their arms tucked in.

The best part is that their legs are free to move around, which helps prevent hip dysplasia, according to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. This swaddle sack comes in both newborn and small sizes and in several colors and patterns.

Best swaddle for tall babies

The Ollie World Ollie Swaddle

  • Price: $$$$
  • Pros: Adjustable length, super stretchy, easy to wrap
  • Cons: Pricier than some options

For parents and caregivers of tall babies, The Ollie Swaddle offers the personalization you’ll need to find the right fit. The entire bottom part of this swaddle is left open so that you can adjust the length of it with an elastic tie as your baby grows. (It also offers easy access to that dirty diaper at 3 a.m.!)

Made of a polyester and spandex blend, this swaddle’s stretchy fabric has large Velcro closures that make wrapping baby easy. One downside, however, is the price. But with the amount of adjustability it offers, it might just be the only swaddle you need.

Best zippered swaddle sack

Love to Dream SWADDLE UP Original

  • Price: $
  • Pros: Allows baby’s hands to be up by face, easy on/off, good hip mobility
  • Cons: Sizing can be tricky to figure out

This zippered swaddle from Love to Dream is incredibly easy to use. With a two-way zipper that’s ideal for diaper changes, you just zip baby inside, and they’re good to go.

The SWADDLE UP’s design allows your baby to sleep with their arms up (hence the name) and legs wide, which parents say helps with babies who loathe swaddling because they want to keep their hands by their face. It’s also recognized by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute for being a “hip healthy” product.

However, it’s worth noting that while this zip sack offers flexibility, it should not be used for babies who can roll over because it can restrict their range of motion. Also, zippers run the risk of catching on bare baby tummies, so this is best used over clothing.

Best swaddle strap

Anna & Eve Baby Swaddle Strap

  • Price: $
  • Pros: Can be used over other swaddles for extra wiggly babies, simple, good for warm climates
  • Cons: May slide up or down if not secured properly

Whether you’re looking for an arms-only solution or want to double-up on swaddling, a swaddle strap can come in handy. It’s essentially an arms-only wrap that stays put across baby’s torso.

This one from Anna & Eve is a popular pick among new parents because it’s made from 100 percent cotton, which doesn’t stretch over time, and is easily adjustable as your baby grows. Parents also mention that it’s great for warmer temps since it doesn’t cover baby’s legs.

With two layers of wrappable Velcro (including one that lays under baby’s arms to prevent the strap from sliding up) and comfy underarm cushions, it’s easy to use, especially during late-night diaper changes.

Most versatile swaddle

Woolino Swaddle Blanket

  • Price: $$$
  • Pros: Beautiful, soft, natural fibers, good for temperature regulation, can be used as a blanket once baby is no longer swaddled
  • Cons: A bit pricey, may be hard to swaddle snugly enough

This swaddle blanket from Woolino is made of soft, 100 percent Australian merino wool, which is known for its temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking properties. That means this pick is great for all temperatures and can handle a little moisture — it’s inevitable, after all!

Once baby’s no longer being swaddled, you’ll still find plenty of use for this 35- by 39-inch blanket, whether for stroller rides, as a nursing cover, or as a sunshade.

Although swaddling has its benefits, it’s important to practice safe swaddling. Here are some important recommendations from the AAP.

  • Keep the crib bare. Loose blankets, stuffed animals, and lovies can pose a suffocation risk, so you’ll want to keep the crib completely bare.
  • Back is best. Whenever you swaddle your infant (or whenever they’re sleeping for that matter), they should be on their backs at all times.
  • Tight is right. When it comes to sleep sacks especially, you want the fit to be more like a sock and less like a potato sack. Babies who can wriggle their arms up and out run the risk of strangulation.
  • Stop swaddling when your baby can roll over. If and when your child shows the ability to roll over, or by 4 months of age, stop swaddling altogether.

It is possible to swaddle a baby too tightly. If a swaddle is wrapped too tightly, it can interfere with a baby’s regular breathing pattern and put the baby at risk for hip dysplasia.

Speaking about safe swaddles, Dr. Kimberly Edwards of the Austin Regional Clinic stated in a Healthline article, “Hips can move and it’s not too tight, but arms are kept in. You should be able to fit your hand between the blanket and the baby’s chest.”

aden & anais Cotton Muslin Swaddle$$$100% cotton muslinwashable; can be used as child grows
Happiest Baby Sleepea 5-Second Baby Swaddle$$100% organic cottoneasy access to diapers
Gunamuna Sleep Bag Premium Duvet$$$95% bamboo viscose; 5% spandexfour-way zipper
CuddleBug Swaddle$100% cottonVelcro flaps for easy access
HALO Sleepsack Swaddle$100% cottoneasy to use; free leg movement for baby
Ollie World Ollie Swaddle$$$$polyester and spandexadjustable length; super stretchy
Love to Dream Swaddle UP Original$93% cotton, 7% elastanegood hip mobility; allows arms to be up by face
Anne & Eve Baby Swaddle Strap$100% cottoncan be used over other swaddles (for extra wiggly babies)
Woolino Swaddle Blanket$$$100% Australian Merino wooltemperature regulating

Need additional guidance?

For more tips, check out the AAP’s safe swaddling guide.

What is the safest swaddle?

According to the AAP guidelines for safe swaddling, loose blankets are a suffocation hazard for young babies. So while all of these swaddles can be used safely if proper precautions are taken, the top options from a safety perspective would be one of the sleep sack or zip-up style swaddles, as they can’t come off and get tangled if they are properly fitted.

Still, any type of swaddle that compresses the arms and limits movement should not be used once your baby shows signs of rolling (or around 2 to 4 months of age).

Why is swaddling not recommended?

While swaddling is an age-old practice that does soothe many young babies, there are risks that must be considered. According to the AAP, these risks include:

  • Swaddling can make babies sleep harder, which may actually increase risk of SIDS.
  • Swaddling too tightly can harm a baby’s hip development.
  • Swaddling blankets that come loose can be a suffocation risk.
  • Babies who are swaddled and roll onto their stomachs may have an increased risk of suffocation.

Do I need a swaddle?

Not every baby needs to be swaddled. Many full-term, healthy babies learn to sleep quite happily without one. Some parents even prefer to have their baby adjust to “outside the womb” sleeping conditions right from the start, so that they don’t have to wean the swaddle a few months later when their baby starts to roll.

However, for premature or colicky babies in particular, swaddling can be a very effective, soothing tool to help them sleep better. Each baby and parent or caregiver combo is unique, so if you have questions about whether swaddling is right for your baby, give your pediatrician a call.