Swaddling is the art of snugly wrapping a baby in a blanket for warmth and soothing.
It can keep your baby from being disturbed by their own startle reflex (that cute little fright they get as newborns) and it can help the baby stay warm and toasty for the first few days of life until the baby's internal thermostat kicks in. It helps the baby feel like they are still in utero and will often help mom in that first couple of days to keep baby calm and sleepy.
In days gone buy it was common practice not to swaddle babies, this was because there wasn't 4-way stretch available. Nowadays we have stretch fabric which changes the swaddle because you can tightly swaddle baby but not restrict movement, breathing and baby can be positioned with their legs up which helps prevent the loosening of the hip joint and promotes bowel movement.
These days, you probably won't leave the hospital without a little lesson in this technique and many baby sleep consultants will also show you how to swaddle. but in case you were a bit frazzled when they showed you, a new baby and no sleep does that to a woman, here are some practical tips to swaddle