Reusing Swaddles

Coming home from the baby shower for my daughter, I was so grateful for all the presents. Lane is my first baby, so I had no idea what I needed. I was introduced that day to butt paste, velour blankets (both life savers), and swaddles. Lots of swaddles. At first I didn’t understand why I needed so many; but I soon found out that if your baby likes swaddling, you will go through dozens of swaddles in a day.

For the first 3 months, swaddles were our best friends, and we went through our stack on heavy rotation. After Lane was weaned off swaddles, what were we going to do with them? At first, it seemed like so many baby/child products: short-lived in its use. Then we discovered many other uses for our swaddles, so many that they are still on heavy rotation around our house with a 20 month old.

Side note: I am not crafty. Not in the least. These uses are for those who do not sew, make, patch up, or redesign. At the end of this post, I will include a few ideas for those who are far more craftier than me (go you!). I can only share and promote those I have tried.

Nursing scarf

Having a separate nursing cover can be a hassle full-stop. You can never find it. It is something extra to remember upon leaving the house. For me, streamline works best with a baby.

I started using swaddles as my “nursing scarf” soon after Lane was born. They were always on-hand. We needed to pack them for excursions out of the house anyway. After Lane was weaned from swaddles, I continued using them as nursing scarves.

It took a lot of experimentation to get the lengths of the swaddle right. You want maximum length on your torso, while keeping the gap between neck and swaddle minimal. These photos show my tricks for tying.

The nursing scarf became my new accessory, because I would just continue about my business wearing it. Neighbors and friends got used to seeing me with an ever-present scarf (because breastfeeding can be an ever-present reality with a baby). I even got a few compliments!

Blankies/Loveys/Comfort objects

When Lane was 4 months old, advice started pouring in about getting her attached to a “lovey”. The idea behind a lovey is your child has an object that comforts them in your absence. If anyone had a blankie growing up (I had a pillow), we get the picture. The hope behind a lovely is they are able to comfort themselves back to sleep, rather than calling out for mama or dada. Lane was a trainwreck with sleep, so we were eager to try anything.

Some experts worry about suffocation. They caution against giving a lovely until a child is older, potentially 9 months to a year. I knew swaddles are designed to be suffocation-proof, so we experimented with giving Lane swaddles as a comfort object. Worked like a charm. Thumb in, swaddle held tightly, Lane immediately comforts herself. Today, she carries her swaddles around like Linus, and always has a comfort when she needs it.

Extra bonus for a swaddle lovey: we aren’t beholden to one object. If we can’t find the swaddle she was using that day, no problem. I run upstairs and grab her a new one. All the swaddles are interchangeable in her eyes, so if one gets forgotten or abandoned, it isn’t an emergency.

Another bonus: easy to clean. Each day she gets a fresh swaddle, so no hidden germs from the day before.

Frozen teethers

I store swaddle teethers, well-soaked in water, in a tupperware container in the freezer.

Plastic teethers (much like teething) are a mess. Yes, they freeze nicely, and for the first tooth, they can hit the spot the baby needs. When other teeth pop up, and your baby wants relief between the teeth, how can she get a big bulky teether to hit that spot?

I found teethers made out of swaddles more effective. Easier for baby to hold, hits the exact point they want numbed, and easier to clean. Just cut the swaddle fabric into smaller squares, form the fabric into a point, soak the point in filtered water, and freeze. By the next day, you will have a freezer of teethers.

Since these natural fabric teethers melt quicker than plastic teethers, I would have 6-8 made and ready. Lane could go through that many on a rough teething night.

Towels to clean up messes

Babyhood and toddlerhood is full of spit-up, spills, and messes of all sorts. Rather than reaching for the paper towels, we reach for the swaddles. They are lightweight and absorbent, and just like cloth towels, easy to wash. Since we still have dozens in our house, it is easy to keep Lane’s lovey for the day separate from the one (or many) for clean-ups.

Crafty section:

The internet is awash with ideas for how to make your own swaddles from fabric. If you are looking to give an expectant family a homemade gift for their shower, this is a great place to start.

Other ideas for crafty people: repurposing the fabric to make pajamas for a toddler, making them into a blanket or quilt, and wrapping presents!

There are many many more ways to reuse your swaddles past the early days of swaddling. What are some of your favorite/most useful?

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