• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Is “Swaddling” Good Or Bad?

Swaddling is nothing but covering your baby in a blanket or sheet so that she will feel extremely safe, comfortable, and secure. Though this is an age-old technique, it is still practiced and has its benefits and risks. Continue reading to know more about swaddling.

What Is Swaddling?

Wrapping your baby with a thin blanket or sheet is a way to soothe your baby and this will allow them to have a complete sleep. You have to swaddle in such a way that only their head is peeking out. This culture has been in practice for centuries and is becoming more popular in the UK.

Swaddling gives a feeling to your baby that she is in your womb. This technique is not compulsory and you can decide whether to opt for it or not. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, practicing swaddling in the right way can be an effective method to promote sleep in infants.

How To Swaddle Your Baby Correctly?

Swaddling

A mother and baby, Credits: pixabay


Correctly swaddling your baby is important. The following procedure is adapted from the “American Academy of Pediatrics” website.

  1. The first step is to spread your baby’s blanket on a flat surface, with one corner folded down.

  2. Place your baby face-up on the blanket. Her head should be above the folded corner, and her body should extend straight down toward the bottom corner.

  3. Straighten her left arm, and wrap the left corner of the blanket over her body and tuck it between her right arm and the right side of her body.

  4. Then tuck the right arm down, and fold the right corner of the blanket over her body and under her left side.

  5. Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby.

  6. Make sure her hips can move and that the blanket is not too tight. “You want to be able to get at least two or three fingers between the baby’s chest and the swaddle”.

Swaddling can be done during the night, but you must ensure that it is done properly.

What are the Benefits of Swaddling?

Swaddling-Benefits

A baby sleeping, Credits: pixabay


The following are the benefits of swaddling.

  1. Better sleep

  2. Feeling of mother’s womb

  3. Help preterm babies

  4. Provide warmth

Better Sleep

Newborns have lots of reflex in their initial few months. One such reflex is the startle reflex, which is nothing but the sudden jerk of her body while sleeping. This reflex is completely normal. This reflex is seen from birth and may last until 12 weeks or six months of age. In some babies, startling reflexes may jolt a baby to wake from sleep. However, swaddling your baby may help prevent these jerks and may induce sound sleep in them.

Feeling Of Mother’s Womb

Some people believe that swaddling gives a baby a feeling that they are in their mother’s womb and soothe them and also such babies tend to cry less often.  Swaddling can help your baby to have long stretches of sleep.

Help Preterm Babies

A study published in 2007 states that swaddling can help preterm babies. When swaddled appropriately, their neuromuscular development, motor organization, and feelings of distress tend to improve.

Provide Warmth

Until your baby’s internal thermostat starts to function, swaddling can help your baby feel the warmth and relaxation.

What are the Risks of Swaddling?

Swaddling Risks

A tired baby sleeping, Credits: pixabay


The following are the risks of swaddling

  1. Hip problems

  2. SIDS

  3. Overheating

  4. Respiratory issues

  5. Contact inhibition

Hip Problems

If you swaddle your baby too tightly, it may affect her mobility and development. Tightly wrapping a baby’s legs may lead to problems in the hip like hip dislocation or hip dysplasia. It is important that when you swaddle your baby, you must provide the space to move their legs and feet.

SIDS

Some believe that swaddling increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, it seems that risk is due to unsafe swaddling and you must ensure that babies always sleep on her back. Sometimes swaddling can decrease sleep arousal which is the main cause of SIDS.

Over Heating

Using too many blankets may overheat your baby.

Respiratory Issues

Swaddling too tightly can lead to respiratory issues. When you swaddle your baby too loosely, there are chances that the blanket may cover her face and may make her breathing difficult.

Contact Inhibition

Swaddling can affect breastfeeding as skin to skin contact is inhibited.

Safety Tips

  1. It is important to stop swaddling once your baby starts to roll on her side or tummy. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, swaddling your baby has to be stopped when she is two months old.

  2. If you are planning to swaddle your baby, start doing it from birth. Do not begin to swaddle at two or three months, when the risk of SIDS is higher.

  3. It is not advisable to swaddle your baby if you plan to co-sleep with her. Your bedclothes, swaddle blankets altogether can induce too much heat, thereby increasing the risk of SIDS.

  4. Always use light and soft blankets to avoid physical discomfort.

  5. Always place the crib or bassinet in a smoke-free area.

Take-Home Message

Swaddling can be an effective method to soothe your baby when done correctly.

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