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Swaddles: The Yay to the Nay

By Ilana Wiles

the yay to the nayI know there are people out there who think their babies don’t like being swaddled. I used to be one of those people. When my first daughter was an infant, we swaddled her in the beginning but she wrangled her way out of that thing and we decided that she didn’t like it.

So we stopped. And we struggled to get her to sleep from that point forward.

Then a few months later, I mentioned to a friend that my baby doesn’t sleep. She asked what I was using for a swaddle. I told her we stopped because my baby doesn’t like it. She said to try again, just tighter.

I did as I was told and my baby slept longer that night than she had in months.

It is now my belief that if you think your baby doesn’t like being swaddled, you are probably just not swaddling ENOUGH. If you make it even harder for your baby to move (moving has the potential of waking the baby and making it harder for them to fall back asleep on their own), I can practically guarantee, your baby will sleep sounder.

When I had my second a couple of months ago, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake. With my first, I used basic muslin swaddles that I wrapped myself. This time I was going to bring in the big guns— swaddles with velcro, zippers and made of steel! Well, maybe not steel. But safe.

Here is my experience:

1. SwaddleMe Blanket Review

SwaddleMe Blanket Review

We got a fleece SwaddleMe which is basically a big pouch with two pieces of fabric that cross in front of the baby’s body. The top piece is secured with two velcro tabs. It’s very easy to put on, especially if you are one of those people that can’t wrap a regular swaddle for your life (I’m talking to my husband).

I like that the fleece offers extra warmth but the simplicity of the swaddle didn’t create a space that was snug enough for my baby. Harlow was easily able to wrangle her arms out (she’s a mini Houdini, this one) and the swaddle did not succeed in keeping her asleep.

VERDICT: NAY

2. Miracle Blanket Swaddle Review

Miracle Blanket Swaddle Review

The Miracle Blanket Swaddler has no velcro or zippers, just one long piece of fabric that you wrap continually over the baby’s body. It also has two pieces of fabric on the inside to secure the baby’s arms to her side.

It’s a little harder to put this swaddling blanket on (especially if you are trying to put a baby to bed that is already sleeping) because you have to lift the baby’s butt about four times to secure different pieces of fabric underneath. But, when you’ve got it all figured out, it is well worth it. The arm pieces kept Harlow’s arms pinned to her sides which made it impossible for her loosen the wrap. As a result, she slept for a much longer stretch of time. I also like how the absence of velcro makes it much easier to rewrap or tighten without that velcro sound continually disturbing the baby.

VERDICT on the Miracle Blanket: YAY

3. Woombie Swaddling Blanket Review

Woombie Swaddling Blanket Review

The Woombie comes in a bunch of different varieties. But the basic principle is that you zip up an ultra tight piece of fabric around the baby and snap it on the top so there is no way they can get out. This works for several reasons. 1) It’s foolproof, the zipper requires no demonstration or instructions. 2) There is no way for a baby to get their arms out but they can hold them over their body inside the Woombie (as opposed to their arms being pinned to their sides in the Miracle Blanket) which is supposed to be good for self-comforting. 3) You can unzip it from the bottom as well so you can change a middle of the night diaper with very little disturbance to your baby.

The Woombie also comes with a version that includes a velcro wrap over the zipper for extra snugness and a version that has legs instead of a pouch, in case you have one of those babies that likes to move their feet.

I like the Woombie and it did work to keep Harlow asleep although I felt not as well as the Miracle Blanket. I also felt a little funny about securing my child in something so tight, particularly with the snap right at her neck. (disclosure: we received a sample from the company to review)

VERDICT on the Woombie Swaddling Blanket: OKAY

4. Zen Swaddle Review

Zen Swaddle Review

The newest and most innovative swaddle to enter the market is the Zen Swaddle from Nested Bean which we received a sample to review. It has lightly weighted pouches that hit specific touch points on your baby (the sides and the abdomen) that are supposed to mimic a mother’s touch. It’s also 100% cotton and feels very soft and premium with an adorable little chick stitched onto the top. Nested Bean claims that touch promotes growth and alleviates stress and that most mothers who use the swaddle report two added hours of sleep a night.

My experience with the Zen Swaddle was mixed. Since my baby is very small, the swaddle was a lot looser than the Woombie or the Miracle Blanket. Since Harlow is a fussy sleeper, she needs the snugness of a tighter swaddle to help her stay asleep. There is a velcro wrap around the top of the swaddle that affixes in the back. While this makes it harder for a baby to get her arms free, since the weight of her body is resting on the closure, it also makes it a little awkward to get off. Personally, I didn’t like the feeling of turning Harlow to her side and pulling off the velcro without much leverage.

While the Zen Swaddle did not work for me on it’s own (and perhaps this will change as Harlow gets bigger), I do really like the weighted nature of the swaddle and find myself using it all the time as a blanket. During the day when Harlow falls asleep in her bouncer or on her floor mat, I often lay the Zen on top of her (making sure the touchpoints are where they are supposed to be) to help her feel secure while she naps without disturbing her to put on something like the Miracle Blanket. Sometimes, I will even lay the Zen over Harlow while she is in another swaddle in hopes the feeling of touch gets her to sleep even sounder.

VERDICT on the Zen Swaddle: OKAY to YAY (I wouldn’t buy it if I were only allowed to buy one swaddle)

All babies are different so it’s important to note that what didn’t work for me might work for someone else. Harlow has acid reflux and doesn’t like to sleep. If you have an easygoing baby, you might find that any number of swaddles are sufficient. Also, I have heard lots of moms swear by the Woombie so obviously, my opinion isn’t the only one out there.

I just know that after alternating between all of them for several weeks, I now solely rely on the Miracle Blanket. A few nights ago I couldn’t find it and my husband presented me with the Woombie to use instead and I nearly bit his head off.

In my mind, if we didn’t have Harlow wrapped in that Miracle Blanket, none of us were getting any sleep that night.

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About the Author

Ilana Wiles

Ilana Wiles writes Mommy Shorts, a popular NYC humor blog geared towards new parents. In addition to blogging, Ilana has worked as a creative in advertisin...

Ilana Wiles writes Mommy Shorts, a popular NYC humor blog geared towards new parents. In addition to blogging, Ilana has worked as a creative in advertising for the past 15 years. She lives in the East Village of NYC with her husband, her two-year-old daughter and a rapidly growing pile of stuffed animals.

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Comments

  • Alissa

    I am a Miracle Blanket snob, as well.  When my DD finally started breaking free from it (at almost 4 months) I wrapped her first in the Miracle Blanket, and then in a very large receiving blanket to keep her in.  I have also put velcro on the end of the long fabric, because big wiggly babies can somehow get looser and looser.  AND – it’s nearly impossible to teach a relative visiting for the weekend to put it on tightly enough to keep the baby swaddled for a nap.  But even with all that – I only use Miracle Blanket.

  • Emily

    I totally agree. People who complain their babies don’t sleep and then say that their babies don’t like the swaddle just aren’t doing it right! But, we did like the swaddlemes and used them until 9 months.

  • trish

    I’ve encouraged other new parents to keep at swaddling by pointing out that babies don’t have to like swaddles to benefit from them. My second was an escape artist but the swaddle lasted long enough for him to calm down and get to sleep — a win in my book. I didn’t particularly care that it didn’t last. 

  • I like the Halo design: I want to make sure that baby’s hips are not compromised, and the bag portion at the bottom makes them safe. Plus, the zipper from the bottom up makes changing diapers easier.

  • IrishCream

    Another vote for the Miracle Blanket here. I could never get the hang of swaddling with a regular blanket. The MB makes it virtually idiot-proof, which is great because waking up every two hours turns me into an idiot.

  • Bethany

    We love our Miracle Blanket! It helps our little guy get a good chunk of sleep. It even fit over his Pavlik harness (see below).

    I’d be concerned a bit about the Woombie, though. My son was born with hip dysplasia and had to wear a Pavlik harness to hold his legs out for the first three months of his life, and the baby pictured in the Woombie has his/her legs in exactly the position that our orthopedist told us NEVER to use – holding baby’s legs together like that can cause even a healthy hip to become malformed.

  • allison

    We got a handed down miracle blanket and swaddle me. I liked both. We also had a stretchy bamboo blanket that worked really well for a ‘traditional’ swaddle.

    I was told that babies shouldn’t be swaddled all night, so we usually would swaddle for the first part of the night (4-8 hours) then release her for the rest. At that point, I was told not to go longer than 8 hours without nursing her anyway, so I didn’t mind the ‘not sleeping through the night’ thing. I was also told to stop swaddling as soon as they can roll over (around 4 months), so we stopped then. Lo and behold, that’s when our ‘good’ sleeper started waking a lot…now i’ve heard since then that you can totally swaddle babies forever (or something like that anyway). i don’t know what’s true…either way it’s too late for my 21 month old (who didn’t start ‘sleeping through’ until 18 months, and still wakes at night 2-4 times a week).

  • Rochelle

    We used the swaddle me with my twins, with a slight modification. We used a small receiving blanket to hold their arms at their sides, like the miracle blanket (essentially, fold a small receiving blanket in thirds, place it behind the back and loop each end over the arms and under the back to hold it in place), then put the swaddle me on top. Worked like a charm and, since we already had the little receiving blankets, it was a bit cheaper than the miracle blanket. 

  • Hollienoel

    Miracle Blanket Hack!!! You know those billions of sweet flannel receiving blankets that are good for nothing but oversized puke catchers? Use one of those to wrap up JUST your baby’s arms ala the MB (so lay baby down on the triangle, wrap the left arm under, and then the right – just like you would do with the flaps on the MB). THEN swaddle the whole baby inside a big muslin swaddle. The receiving blanket flannel should be good and sticky so those arms are pinned tight like the MB and then the muslin blanket keeps the whole thing inside. 
    ALSO- if you are even a teeny, tiny bit crafty, you can make a 42X42″ flannel swaddle blanket from regular yardage at the fabric store, and they are so good and sticky that your kid is wrapped up like a fly in a spider’s web. Better than a muslin if you live in a very cold climate.

  • radiem

    Thank you SO much for sharing the miracle blanket hacks! I was just about to reluctantly shell out another $30 for a third MB to add to the rotation for our next baby (due in 3 weeks). I have a couple of gifted swaddleme’s (totally agree with the NAY on those) and of course I have the requisite flannel receiving blankets. You guys rock!

  • VIcki

    I LOVE the miracle blanket, but as G got older, he was able to bust out of that thing in just a couple of hours which meant Mama was up all.night.long. I found the Woombie and now that’s all we use. SUre you’re supposed to stop swaddling at 16 weeks, but I see no end in sight for my guy, so I’ll be ordering the Mega Baby size Woombie soon!

    If I had to do it all over again, I would have used the woombie from day 1!

  • Marissa

    Adored the Woombie. I have a gigantic baby (nearly 10 lbs at birth), so the Miracle Blanket got too small pretty quickly. My baby boy lived in the Woombie every night for weeks, and it was frickin’ magic. Got us so much unbroken sleep, it was awesome.

    Then my freakishly strong son started rolling over way too early (3 months). Still, I kept him in the Woombie . . . till he woke me up one night crying because he’d managed to flip himself over in the Woombie (inside his narrow little cosleeper!!) So that was the end of that. He’s in the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit now, and that’s what’s keeping him a great sleeper. When he outgrows that, I will cry.

  • Alana

    There are more than a few different types of Swaddle Me’s.  You should have tried the new one specifically for infants the Swaddle Pod; it’s made from cotton as opposed to fleece.  It calms my little one down right away and the most she can wriggle out is the top of her hand.  Basically you used the wrong kind in your research.  Here is a link to the right one for next time: 

    http://www.summerinfant.com/Products/Nursery/Swaddle-Me—Speciality-Blankets/SwaddlePod/SwaddlePod-Singles.aspx

    • Thanks for this info and your thoughts about SwaddleMe’s other swaddle. We tried the SwaddleMe that is the same in design to their original (only difference is the one we used is in microfleece).

      We wish we had the time and resources to test all swaddles by all manufacturers, but we don’t (maybe one day). But, the one we did try is for infants as well. In fact, all swaddles are for infants.

  • Laura Harwood

    That woombie thing looks like a baby straightjacket!

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  • Amelie

    Just thought I’d add that all babies are different and for some, tight swaddles just don’t work. My 2 month-old daughter wakes up if not swaddled but can’t fall asleep on her own when she is. We tried closing the flaps of her Halo sleep sack once she was asleep but then she’d struggle and cry if she woke up mid-sleep. A friend gave me the Love to Dream swaddle and it’s been a lifesaver. She can suck her hands and self-soothe while still having the snugness of a swaddle. 

  • Noel Howell

    I’ve had a miracle wrap for 3 kids. I NEVER knew thats what the inner flaps did. I just wrapped all 4x around and thought… double-layer = harder to get out. I’ve always LOVED this as my favorite swaddle, even thought apparently I was using it wrong!