To Swaddle or Not to Swaddle?
Swaddling is an ancient and revered practice of snugly wrapping your baby in a thin blanket or sheet, to help him or her feel safe and secure. Many cultures, especially the eastern cultures have used swaddling for centuries. And it has been commonly and widely adopted in the western cultures as early as in the 1990s.
New moms probably remember the first time the midwives hands your cleaned baby to you. The way, she is neatly wrapped like a burrito, with only her fuzzy little head poking out. This is because midwives and nurses know one of the secrets to a happy, calm baby is swaddling.
Now, there have been studies that have say swaddling isn’t safe or necessary. However, researchers have found that infants are quieter, sleep more and have lower and more stable heart rates when swaddled, as compared un-swaddled infants. Swaddling is now accepted as a safe way to help calm and comfort your baby, as long as it’s done correctly. It’s potentially unsafe if your baby is not swaddled properly. Also there is a risk of your baby overheating if they are wrapped in too many blankets, in covers that are too heavy or thick, or if they’re wrapped too tightly. Some experts also believe that swaddling your baby too tightly may affect her mobility and development. If her legs are held pressed together and straight down, she’s more likely to develop problems with her hips (hip dysplasia). Therefore, it is crucial to learn how to swaddle your baby safely. Don’t fret, we will cover that shortly.
Benefits of Swaddling
- Swaddling well can help your baby get to sleep, stay asleep longer and help your baby develop good sleep habits early on.
- Swaddling has proven to help prevent the startle reflex that a newborn baby has. Babies under the age of 3 months have no control over their arms or legs and don’t even realize their limbs are attached to their little body. When your baby is tired, you’ll notice that her arms and legs wave and jerk about, sometimes even hitting herself in the head and face. Through swaddling, you’ll help contain these involuntary movements that can prevent her from settling into sleep (and might wake her once she falls asleep).
- It also helps your baby feel and calm in the tight, womb-like wrap.
- And most importantly swaddling keeps your baby warm while she sleeps (which is when their temperature tends to drop) without the need for loose blankets, which could be a suffocation hazard.
- Swaddling ensures your baby remains sleeping on her back, which has been proven to reduce occurrences of SIDS.
- When swaddled, your baby can’t scratch her face.
- Swaddling benefits parents too — when baby sleeps more, mom and dad sleep more!
Now, that we have covered the benefits of swaddling, let’s go over how to swaddle babies safely.
Follow these seven safe and hip friendly swaddling tips:
- Swaddle your baby using thin, breathable materials. Suitable cloth includes cotton receiving blankets, cotton muslin wraps, or specialised cotton-winged baby swaddles. Don’t over layer them.
- Don’t swaddle your baby above their shoulders – their neck and head should never be swaddled.
- Wrap your baby firmly but gently (not too tightly). Tight swaddling that stops your baby's hips and knees moving freely is not recommended. Swaddling your baby too tightly might cause hip dysplasia, which is where the hip does not form correctly.
- Use hip-healthy swaddling techniques to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia. Make sure your baby is able to move their hips and knees freely to kick. Your baby’s legs should be able to fall into a natural position (like frog legs).
- Always put your baby to sleep on their back. Never put a swaddled baby to sleep on their front or side.
- Checkyour baby’s temperature regularly to make sure they don’t get too hot or overheat. Check they’re wearing suitable clothes for the weather too.
- If someone else looks after your baby, make sure they also know about safe sleeping advice and how to swaddle safely. Take your time to show them and explain safe swaddling and make sure they know to always put your baby to sleep on their back.
When to stop swaddling?
Most parents use swaddling during the newborn stage and begin to phase it out before six months. Some babies like being swaddled up to nine months, and that’s perfectly fine so long as you are using an arms-free sleep sack once baby begins to roll. At some point though your baby will prefer the freedom outside the swaddle and struggle to break out.
Start transitioning your baby out of the swaddle at around 3 months old, when she is beginning to roll over.
Once your baby is rolling, the time for swaddling with both arms down is over! If you see the beginnings of rolling during the day, start transitioning out of the swaddle at night.
Types of Swaddles
Finding the perfect kind of swaddle is challenging for some families, but there’s likely a product on the market to help you. Some prefer a larger, muslin or cotton blanket, while others like the stretch of a thermal blanket that can really pull and stretch around your little one.
Other products use pouches, pockets, zippers, snaps or Velcro to simulate the swaddle feeling without you actually having to learn the wrapping technique. These products are also great for larger babies or escape artist babies – those who can more easily squirm out of their swaddle blankets. The ease of velcro is great for a tired mommy in the middle of the night.
As long as your baby is swaddled safely and securely, use whichever blanket or product works best for your family.
Rest assured, Mother’s Choice carries all kinds of swaddles, from the thin muslin wraps, flannel wraps, to the quick Velcro adjustable swaddle wraps.
So, head over to our swaddles and wraps page to find the perfect swaddle for your little one.