AHEAD: The ultimate guide to choosing which swaddles to get for your baby—and how many!
Babies love to be wrapped up like a burrito. It makes them feel safe and secure (and also contains their startle reflex).
But which ones should you get? And how many do you need?
Especially if this is your first child, it can be hard to strike the right balance between being prepared and going overboard.
Not to mention, with so many swaddling products on the market, it can be really hard to know which ones are worth the money, which ones are gimmicks, and which one’s aren’t even safe.
In this guide, we’re going to answer a common question of new parents building their baby registries: “How many swaddles do I need?”
We’re also going to talk about the different types of swaddles, the best ones to have on hand, and the ones with safety concerns to avoid.
Let’s dive in!
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The different kinds of swaddles
Before we talk about how many swaddles you actually need, here is a brief overview of the different kinds of swaddles available.
“How many swaddles do I need?”
Now that you’ve seen the different styles of swaddles, let’s get to the question at hand: How many swaddles do you actually need for your baby?
The short answer is that you “need” two swaddles for your baby.
The long answer is that the number of swaddles you need really depends on:
How often you do laundry.
I always encourage new moms to buy extras of their ‘essentials’ to avoid having to do laundry/dishes every day.
The temperature variability in the room where your baby will be sleeping.
If you don’t have central air—or if you live somewhere with an extremely variable climate—it’s nice to have swaddles of different weights.
(It’s important to dress baby for sleep based on the temperature of the room.)
Whether your baby likes the type of swaddle you chose.
For example, some babies like their hands free, some babies like their arms straight down, etc. You won’t know until your baby tells you!
So which two swaddles should you go with?
If you’re a minimalist…
If you’re worried about accumulating too much baby gear—here are the 2 specific swaddle sacks I’d consider must-haves:
This is a unique swaddle sack that positions your baby’s arms near their head, instead of at their sides or chest.
Many babies prefer to sleep in this position, so you 100% want this in your tool kit.
You should either buy size newborn (5 to 8.5 lbs) or size small (8 to 13 lbs). You’ll probably get more use out of the latter, though!
This is an extremely versatile swaddle sack that gives you 3 different ways to position your baby’s arms.
This is a staple that you’ll be really glad to own. It’s worth every penny.
Get it in size newborn (6 to 12 lbs).
If you’re *not* a minimalist…
Even if you’re a “be prepared for anything” type of person (like I am), don’t go overboard with the number of swaddles that you get.
Four is the maximum number of swaddles that you need.
Keep in mind that since it’s only safe to swaddle for 2 months or less, this is a very short-lived phase.
If your baby starts rolling before 2 months, the phase will be even shorter!
Since everything about this period is unpredictable, it’s not a bad idea to start with the two “essential” swaddles above, see how your baby likes them, and then go from there.
You can always double or triple up on your baby’s favorites once you see what they are.
Not to mention, if they hate the ones you currently own, you’ll have a better sense of what else to try.
It’s all trial and error!
Next, we’re going to talk about which swaddle products NOT to buy for safety reasons. Then, we’ll cover a bunch of related FAQs.
What size swaddle sizes NOT to buy
You should only buy or register for swaddles in sizes Newborn and 0-3 Months.
Do NOT get any swaddles meant for older babies.
This is because according to the AAP, it is no longer safe to swaddle once a baby starts showing signs of rolling—and many babies start working on rolling at 2 months of age.
Related: What Not to Put on a Baby Registry
All swaddle sacks are not created equal
Avoid weighted swaddles.
There are serious concerns about adding weight on top of a sleeping baby.
More on this later in the FAQs!
Avoid swaddles that are tight around the baby’s lower body.
Be careful with products that do not allow for a full range of leg movement, as this is linked to hip dysplasia.
Babies should be able to easily form an”M” shape with their legs while wearing the swaddle.
Products such as the following may be too tight in the hips:
- SwaddleMe Pod
Now that you know how many swaddles you need, which ones to buy, and which ones to avoid, let’s get into the FAQs!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about swaddling
Do I have to swaddle my newborn?
No, you do not have to swaddle your baby.
Swaddling isn’t for safety, it just provides comfort.
What are the benefits of swaddling?
The only actual benefit of swaddling is that babies tend to sleep better when swaddled (and as a result, parents get more sleep).
Babies enjoy being tightly wrapped because it feels like being in mom’s womb.
Swaddling prevents flailing arms (Moro Reflex) that often wake baby from sleep.
Swaddling does not decrease the risk of SIDS.
How do I know if my baby is swaddled correctly / if the swaddle sack fits correctly?
If you are using a blanket to swaddle, make sure that it’s snug on the upper body and can’t easily come undone.
Take care to ensure that the fabric can’t ride up over baby’s mouth.
Unlike the top, the lower portion of the swaddle should be loose to encourage healthy hip development.
The same advice goes for checking the fit of a swaddle sack…
Start with the manufacturer’s size guidelines for height and weight. Make sure the fabric can’t ride up over baby’s mouth. Ensure that baby’s hip region isn’t compressed.
When do we need to STOP swaddling?
The following is an excerpt from the current AAP guidelines:
“Parents should stop swaddling as soon as their baby shows any signs of trying to roll over. Many babies start working on rolling at around 2 months of age.”
Many safe sleep experts err on the side of caution, directing parents to stop swaddling at 8 weeks or first signs of rolling, whichever comes first.
Is the Nested Bean 'Zen Swaddle' safe?
“To put on anything that impedes their freedom to move when they’re in the prone position is a problem,” he says.
Read my in-depth article here: Are Nested Bean Sleep Sacks Safe?
Is the Dreamland Baby weighted swaddle safe?
Pediatric neurologist Dr. Sarah Rahal says:
“My main concern with these weighted sleep sacks being recommended in infancy is that a child who manages to roll themselves over in one of these sacks may not be able to unroll themselves because of the additional weight, increasing the risk for suffocation.”
Read my in-depth article here: Are Dreamland Baby’s Weighted Sleep Sacks Safe?
Is Baby Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit safe?
There are several safety concerns surrounding Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit, a “swaddle transition” product:
- It likely inhibits rolling.
- It may decrease an infant’s life-saving arousal response.
- It may pose a risk of overheating due to its thickness.
There is disagreement amongst safe sleep advocates about whether this product is weighted (which would be unsafe). The jury is still out on whether this is the case.
Read my in-depth article here: Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit: Is it Safe?
How many receiving blankets do I need?
This one’s easy… zero!
That’s right, you do NOT need to buy or register for receiving blankets.
Receiving blankets are tiny and will only be useable for a few weeks, at best.
You’re much better off getting muslin swaddle blankets, which are larger and more verstaile.
Not to mention, your hospital will probably send you home with a (free) receiving blanket, so you’ll have one on hand either way.
How many velcro swaddles do I need?
You should have a minimum of 2 swaddle sacks in your toolbox.
Whether you go with velcro or zipper closure is entirely personal preference.
(I preferred the zipper ones, as I felt they were more secure and exhausted-mommy proof).
How many muslin wraps do I need?
It’s nice to have one or two muslin blankets on hand—but keep in mind that swaddling “burrito style” can have a steep learning curve.
Many [exhausted] parents prefer swaddle sacks because they’re difficult to screw up.
Since muslin blankets have so many purposes, even if you don’t end up using them to swaddle, they aren’t a waste of money.
Articles related to building your baby registry:
- Can a Newborn Sleep in a Pack N Play?
- 6 Best Portable Bassinets
- Are memory foam crib mattresses safe? Which are the safest mattresses?
- Uncommon Baby Registry Essentials
Final thoughts on deciding how many swaddles to buy or register for
In order to answer the question of “how many swaddles do I need?”, it’s important to first ask yourself what your goals are.
If you’re a minimalist who is worried about accumulating too much baby gear, then the 2 specific swaddle sacks I recommended above should be enough for now.
If you want to be prepared for anything, grab one or two additional swaddle sacks in different styles. This way you’ll have choices, just in case your baby doesn’t like the others—or if you just need a break from doing laundry.
Just keep in mind, you don’t want to go overboard and buy more than 4 swaddles at this point in time; there’s no need since everything about this phase of life is unpredictable!
And remember that some products aren’t safe, so avoid weighted items or anything tight around the hips.