Swaddling is an ancient practice, a mothers gentle and loving act of wrapping her baby so it is safely cocooned just like in the womb.
Swaddling felt right for me and Gabriel from day one. It was instinctive perhaps because it was winter and also because Gabe had constant flayling arms - I later read that boys tend to have the 'moro reflex' stronger and for longer, and Gabe certainly did so he was swaddled for a long time and it mostly made for calm bedtimes and restful nights.
Some babies may not be so keen on swaddling but most enjoy the initial sense of being wrapped and cocconed. I have to say that I also liked the neat little bundle they become when they are swaddled.
Swaddling became part of our bedtime ritual, the swaddling and feeding being a consistent sign that sleepy time was here. I also used a smudge of Badger baby balm (from Infinity Foods or online here from my fave new skincare site lovelula.com) on the swaddling, which was another sleep association. I'm not saying any of these things are guaranteed baby sleep techniques as I reckon that following our own instincts is the only way, but these little things helped me be calm and that was the key (didn't stop bedtime being horrendous sometimes, but I shall choose to forget those moments especially now that I'm thinking about having another baby!)
If anyone is looking for a book recommendation then I can say that Gentle First Year by Gowri Motha is a book that is really encouraging and made me feel confident in my instincts. Not sure that with a second baby I will have quite so much time to lie around and sleep and massage and be in a newborn baby bubble for so long, but it's lovely thinking about it!
To swaddle you need a large enough blanket, piece of fabric or ideally a large muslin that will fold into a large triangle shape, with 2 points of the triangle long enough to wrap around. It's best described here. I did struggle with blankets that weren't large enough and actually ended up with only one perfect swaddling blanket, a knitted blanket from my sis that I shall treasure. I genuinely wish I had found Aden+Anais swaddling wraps when Gabe was a baby as they are so large and perfect and have so many other uses too. Muslin really is a perfect fabric - soft, breathable and comforting. My future baby things wish list is shaping up nicely...and I'm getting broody for sure.