Which swaddles are best?
Swaddling recreates the cozy comfort of the womb and helps babies feel snug, safe, and secure. And, more often than not, babies who feel snug, safe, and secure cry less and sleep more — a boon for any new parent. If you’re ready to give swaddling a swing, you’ll have plenty of options at your disposal. From traditional swaddling blankets to easy-breezy swaddle sacks and pods, there’s something for everyone.
Read on to find out more about baby swaddle types, fabrics, and sizes. We’ve also included a few of our favorite baby swaddles, like our top pick from Aden + Anais that comes with four supremely soft and incredibly versatile classic swaddling blankets.
What to know before you buy a swaddle
Baby swaddles come in a handful of different styles, each with its own unique set of benefits. Let’s take a quick look.
- Traditional swaddle blankets: Almost everyone is familiar with these large squares of fabric — in fact, you were probably wrapped in one as a baby yourself! Despite having a slight learning curve, traditional swaddle blankets are also amazingly versatile and can easily pull double-duty as a burp cloth or nursing cover in a pinch.
- Swaddle sacks: If you’d rather bypass all the tucking and folding that traditional swaddle blankets call for, a swaddle sack might be the answer. These simplified swaddles generally feature a sack that slips over your baby’s legs and wings with Velcro fasteners for the upper body. Not only is this design simple to secure, but adjustments are quick and easy, too.
- Swaddle pods: The simplest of the bunch, swaddle pods require absolutely no folding, wrapping, or tucking. Just place your bundle of joy inside the pod, zip it up, and you’re good to go. The catch? Swaddle pods aren’t quite as secure as other swaddle styles, and little Houdinis might manage to wriggle themselves out.
While swaddle blankets are one of those one-size-fits-all items, swaddle sacks and pods come in dedicated sizes for different ages (for instance, zero to three months or five to 14 pounds, and so on). Keep in mind, though, that these sizes are best used as guidelines. If your baby is taller than average, it’s a good idea to check the actual measurements first.
When it comes to baby swaddle fabrics, three tend to dominate the market:
- Cotton: Hypoallergenic, breathable, and stretchy, muslin cotton is a go-to choice for many parents. However, cotton can also be prone to shrinking and staining, and these swaddles might require a bit of extra care come laundry day.
- Bamboo: If easy care is a must, bamboo is a great choice. Much like cotton, bamboo is breathable, soft, and hypoallergenic. However, it isn’t as prone to shrinking or staining and comes with natural antimicrobial properties as an added benefit.
- Polyester-cotton blends: If you don’t mind synthetic fibers, poly-cotton blends can offer great value for money. Not only are they lightweight, breathable, and more durable than pure cotton fabrics, but they’re also stain-resistant and easier to care for.
What to look for in a quality swaddle
Velcro fasteners are a common feature on swaddle sacks and make it a breeze to secure or adjust the swaddle after wrapping your baby. On the downside, Velcro can be noisy, so be sure to make any adjustments before naptime. Swaddle pods, on the other hand, generally feature a single zipper, which allows you to secure your baby quickly and quietly.
While some babies enjoy a snug swaddle, others need a bit of wiggle room. Unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt which camp your baby is in, you’d be wise to choose a swaddle that offers some level of adjustability. Swaddle blankets are, of course, infinitely adjustable and swaddle sacks allow for a decent amount of experimentation too. Swaddle pods, unfortunately, generally have a fixed, but roomy, fit.
Cute colors and prints
Colors and prints don’t just boost your baby’s cuteness factor, they also make it easier to distinguish “clean” from “used” and “used” from “destined for the laundry.” Patterns and prints can also help camouflage stains.
How much you can expect to spend on a swaddle
You can expect to pay somewhere between $20-$25 for a pack of four swaddle blankets or a multipack of swaddle sacks or pods in smaller sizes. Premium swaddle blankets made of organic fabrics and swaddle sacks and pods in larger sizes can set you back anywhere from $25-$60.
Q. Up until what age can I swaddle my baby?
A. Most babies outgrow swaddling when the Moro reflex (aka the startle reflex) subsides, which usually occurs somewhere between the ages of four to six months. However, for safety reasons, experts recommend putting a stop to swaddling when babies begin to roll over.
Q. Can my baby use a car seat when swaddled?
A. Some swaddle sacks and pods are designed with openings to accommodate car seat restraints. If this is an important feature to you, be sure to check before you buy.
What are the best swaddles to buy?
Our take: Hard-to-beat quality coupled with unrivaled versatility earn these classic swaddle blankets first place on our shortlist.
What we like: Bamboo-derived rayon is beautifully soft and breathable. Simple design easily doubles as a burp cloth or nursing cover. One size will see you through the swaddling months.
What we dislike: Takes some practice to get the hang of folding and securing these swaddles.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Top swaddle for money
Our take: Lightweight and roomy, this wearable blanket adheres to AAP’s sleep safety guidelines and is ideal for babies who insist on having a bit of freedom.
What we like: Pure cotton construction is soft and comfy. Attractive design. Parents love that the snap closures are simple and quiet enough to secure even when babies are asleep.
What we dislike: Glow-in-the-dark zipper is a magnet for little fingers. Sizes run large.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Worth checking out
Our take: A solid choice if softness and adjustability top your list of priorities. Stands out for its excellent quality and handy features.
What we like: Can be used three ways: arms in, hands to face, and one or both arms out. Zippered bottom makes diaper changes a breeze. A favorite in hospitals. The embroidered safety reminder “Back is Best” is a nice touch.
What we dislike: Somewhat pricey for a single swaddle, but the quality is superb.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Erica van Blommestein writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.