Swaddling isn't difficult, but you’ll want to avoid some common mistakes. Just follow the guidelines below to ensure that your baby won't break out of the swaddle and that she stays snug, calm, and happy!

What to Do If Your Baby Hates Swaddle?

Most of the time, your baby fights the swaddle because they’re not being swaddled correctly. Check out our guide for how to swaddle a baby using the DUDU method. These step-by-step instructions will show you Dr. Karp’s preferred method for swaddling, so your baby can sleep comfy. You’ll also find some helpful tips below if your baby doesn’t like or fights the swaddle.

If Your Baby Doesn’t Like the Swaddle, Then Try Tightening It

A Harvard study found that babies actually cry more if they are wrapped loosely! If your baby doesn’t like the swaddle, then this could be why.

The secret of swaddling is keeping the arms snug, while leaving the blanket loose around the knees and hips so they can bend and open easily.

Related: Step-by-Step Instructions for Fool-Proof Swaddling

Swaddle With Straight Arms If They Keep Fighting It

Some experts insist that infants have their hands high up so they can suck their fingers. But wrapping with bent arms is usually a disaster! It allows the hands to wiggle out, which makes babies cry more… and allows the whole wrap to unravel. This makes it easy for your baby to fight the swaddle and keeps them awake.

It’s true that during the last month or two of pregnancy, a baby’s arms are always bent. However, within two weeks of birth, the arms naturally relax, becoming straighter during calm times and sleep. (Although they do snap back into the bent position during crying.)

Note: Preemies can be wrapped with bent arms—until they get close to their due date.

Babies Will Fight the Swaddle If It Touches Their Cheeks

When a blanket touches the cheek of your hungry baby, it fools her into thinking it’s the breast. That can set off the rooting reflex and cause her to cry with frustration when she can’t find the nipple. So keep the blanket off the face, by making the swaddle look like a V-neck sweater. This is a great way to keep your baby from breaking out or fighting the swaddle.

Related: Learn the DUDU Swaddle: The Easiest Swaddling Technique

Use the Right Size Blanket or a Baby Will Break Out of the Swaddle

Small blankets tend to pop open and unravel. Use a blanket that’s big enough to wrap all around your baby’s body—at least 44 inches square.

Does Swaddling Reduce or Prevent SIDS?

Safe swaddling can actually help prevent SIDS by making it more difficult for your baby to roll. This is important because SIDS risk jumps 8 to 45 times for babies who routinely back sleep, but accidentally roll. For more information on SIDS prevention, be sure to read all of our tips to prevent the risk of SIDS.


Let Dr. Harvey Karp teach you the easiest and safest way to swaddle and his 5 S's method for calming babies, in The Happiest Baby on the Block video. Or, take all the guesswork out of swaddling with Sleepea, the 5-second swaddle.

View more posts tagged, swaddling

Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Submit your questions here.

Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.