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Crafting the Perfect Swaddle: Why I Invented the Baby Ota

I thought I would be somewhat ready when my daughter, Lidia, was born. With nine months of reading, fretting, going to parenting classes, talking to other moms, and, shopping for the latest baby gadgets under my rapidly tightening belt, I assumed that I’d be able to find the perfect solution to any problem – be it in a blog post or at the store.


I was quickly disabused of that notion. It turns out that no amount of prep can actually fully prepare you for taking care of a tiny, less-articulate version of yourself. The “nifty tricks to stop babies crying” I found online just made her cry more, while the adorable toys that I was certain would soothe her distress simply became obstacles for me to avoid as I navigated her nursery.


Surprisingly, motherhood isn’t easy. Who knew?


Still, one thing I was certain I wouldn’t have to deal with was sleeping problems. I’m from the Czech Republic, where swaddling is a way of life – literally. Babies are gifted an ornate swaddle by their relatives called a zavinovacka and marched around town in it. Swaddling, and the attendant sleeping that comes with it, are all the rage in the Czech Republic. Since I was in the US, I didn’t have a genuine zavinovacka on hand, but I figured that with all of the swaddles available these days, it would be easy to find a decent replacement.


Remember how wrong I was about motherhood? Turns out I was just as wrong about swaddles.


Every swaddle and wrap blanket that I tried was good for certain things, but not for everything. They were either too tight or too loose, or didn’t have enough padding, or didn’t keep Lidia safely on her back, or I had to hand wash them (like I had time for that with new baby), or they were just plain ugly.


All I wanted was a swaddle that was warm, breathable, comfy, adjustable, easy to wash, safe, and cute. Is that too much too ask?


I was pining for a zavinovacka when it dawned on me. I’m a Czech woman! I can follow in my family footsteps and make my own!


I called my relatives across the Atlantic to get the details, set up my sewing machine and got to work creating the perfect swaddle. When I was done, I had just what I wanted.


My swaddle (which I dubbed the Baby Ota in honor of my family name, Otahalova) had all the features I had been looking for – the bamboo fiber was soft, breathable and stain resistant, the padding kept Lidia comfy and safe on her back, the three bow ties allowed me to adjust the fit for different activities and the machine washable cover saved me time and effort.


Best of all, I wrapped up Lidia and she was snoozing in minutes – and she stayed asleep! Soon, she was inseparable from the Ota. Anytime we left the house, I’d bring her Ota. Other moms started to comment on how well she slept and how cute the Ota was and asking where they could get one. With all of the compliments I was getting, I decided to start making Baby Ota swaddles to sell (which is why you’re on this website)!


As far as I’m concerned, the Baby Ota is the best swaddle out there and one of the things I’m proudest to have made (besides Lidia and her brother Auggie, of course). Sometimes, when you want something done right, you just have to do it yourself!


Ivana’s Story: The American Dream Begins in the Czech Republic

Diapers, Delivery, and Debt: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was Expecting

How Baby Ota Was Born