Word of the Day


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to wrap a baby very tightly in cloth

Origin and usage

The word swaddle is derived from the 13th century Middle English word ‘swathlen’ which means ‘to bind with strips of cloth’. It first appeared in its current form sometime during the late 15th century.


Swaddle is a word that refers to the practice of wrapping a baby tightly in a cloth or blanket. The practice dates back centuries and is still popular today.

Swaddling is usually used to help a baby feel cosy and secure, which has a number of benefits. Swaddling can help babies sleep longer and more soundly, soothes fussy or colicky babies, and aids safer sleep.

Many new parents understand the advantages of swaddling their newborn, but getting a swaddle just right can be a bit tricky. Though many shops now sell specialized wraps designed to make swaddling easier, a plain baby blanket works beautifully as long as you follow a few simple steps.

Here’s how to properly swaddle a baby:
1. Lay a blanket in a diamond shape on a large, flat surface like a bed or the floor. Fold the top corner down and place the baby on top of the blanket, with baby’s shoulders just below the top folded edge.
2. Gently hold baby’s right arm by her side or against her chest and pull that side of the blanket across to her left side. Tuck the blanket under baby’s left arm.
3. Fold the bottom corner of the blanket up over baby’s feet, and tuck it behind baby’s left shoulder, as well.
4. Gently hold baby’s left arm by her side or against her chest and pull the left corner of the blanket across to the right side. Secure it behind baby’s right shoulder.

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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