What exactly are “swaddling clothes”?

“Swaddling clothes” can also be translated as “cloth strips,” “bands of cloth” or even “rags.” It is likely Mary and Joseph used what little they had on hand at the end of an unanticipated 70 mile trip to Bethlehem that would have taken them several days to a week to walk. This is one of several details in Luke’s Gospel that suggest Mary and Joseph were poor parents bringing a child into the world in a tenuous situation. (Luke 2:1-24)