Swaddling is the ancient practice of wrapping babies in lightweight blankets to soothe them and help them adjust to life outside of the womb. It has made a comeback in recent years, but many new parents agonize over whether or not to swaddle their new baby.
Is it safe? What is the right way to swaddle? Swaddling is a safe and effective method to soothe your little one if done correctly. Swaddled babies sleep longer and more soundly, resulting in better rested parents who are more equipped to care for the many needs of a newborn. It mimics the womb and makes your baby warm and secure while at the same time inhibiting the startle or “Moro” reflex which can startle your baby awake.
Tips on How to Swaddle
Here are some tips to let your little one have a safe, snug sleep.
Do: Use a soft, lightweight blanket to swaddle your baby in. Overheating can increase the risk of SIDS, and a lighter blanket will ensure your little one’s comfort. Layers are the key to keeping your baby warm if you live in a cold area. Pay attention to your newborn’s cues; infants will let you know if they’re uncomfortable.
Do: Swaddle your infant snugly. If the swaddle is too loose, babies may be able to push the blanket up over their face, raising the probability of suffocation.
Do: Swaddle your baby with their hands out if that’s what they prefer. Every baby is different, and some babies just like having their hands free.
Do: Lay the baby to sleep on their back. Since swaddled babies have restricted movement, it’s harder for them to push their face away for objects that could suffocate them. Remember the mantra “back to sleep” when laying your infant down.
Do: Start swaddling as early as possible. This will help your little one transition from womb to world.
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Don’t: Swaddle your baby too tightly. If the swaddle is too tight around the chest, it may restrict the infant’s breathing. Always make sure there is space for at least two fingers to give your baby adequate breathing room.
Don’t: Wrap the baby’s legs and hips tightly. Limiting the movement of your baby’s legs and hips increases the risk of hip dysplasia.
Don’t: Swaddle a baby once it is able to roll over. Keeping your infant’s arms free once it reaches this milestone will reduce the risk of suffocation.
Don’t: Swaddle a sick baby. Swaddling will hold in your infant’s body heat and a feverish baby is at a higher risk of overheating.
How do I Swaddle my Baby? A Step-by-Step Guide
Time needed: 2 minutes.
Here is a one of the most common methods for swaddling newborns.
Setting up the Swaddling blanket
Lay the blanket flat on a firm surface and fold one of the corners about seven inches down.
Positioning the baby
Place your baby on the blanket with their neck on the fold.
Take the corner of the blanket on your left and wrap it around the baby, over the baby’s right arm and under their left arm.
Take the bottom corner of the blanket and fold it up over the baby’s feet, making sure not to cover their face.
Wrap the corner of the blanket on your right over your baby’s left arm and under their right arm.
What’s your favourite method of swaddling? Let me know in the comments below.