What Is Swaddling? How To Swaddle? Why To Swaddle?
Swaddling - What, How and Why?
Swaddling has been preached for ages as a useful tool for calming infants, providing a reassuring intimacy and offering a whole lot of benefits to a newborn as they adapt to the environment outside Mama. A new parent’s mind is understandably bombarded with several questions about swaddling and we have tried answering the most common doubts.
Take a soft cotton cloth, wrap your baby into a little burrito and that’s it, you have successfully swaddled your infant! Yes, it is actually that easy. The only catch is that you’ll probably have to practise the art of swaddling a few dozen times to get it right, or not. Swaddling is a practice through which an infant is kept safe, warm and stable by wrapping them in a cozy piece of cloth with their heads out. Interestingly, swaddling is not a 21st century invention but has been prevalent since ages. Archaeological records and findings show that swaddling has been practised since 4000 BC and originated in Asia.
While the United States government started advising parents to swaddle their babies in 1992, today majority pediatricians and specialists strongly suggest swaddling a newborn until they start to transition. Transitioning period is when the baby starts outgrowing the cocoon of a swaddle and starts full-fledged limb movement.
Why should you swaddle your baby?
Swaddling a baby is not just a burning topic of discussion in parent chat rooms but now a piece of advice parents take home after every visit to the “baby doctor”. To enlist a few swaddling benefits:
1. Prevents startle reflex: It ensures that the arms and legs are close to the baby’s body thus preventing the triggering of their startle reflex. Startle reflex is where a newborn wakes up due to the flailing of their own hands. When the baby is swaddled, their hands usually cross over in front of their chest which further facilitates self-soothing. This way the baby can soothe themselves and have a longer power nap!
2. Feeling of warmth: Swaddling does not only provide the baby with the same snug feeling as the inside of a womb, but it also helps them gradually adjust to the outside world. Instead of using a blanket which can be a hazard for the baby, a swaddle is highly recommended.
3. It reduces chances of Sudden Infant Deaths (SIDs).
4. Avoids chills or overheating: Swaddling helps to maintain an optimal body temperature for the infant by avoiding chills and overheating. This is why you should use a flexible and breathable swaddle like the Dreamsack muslin swaddle to help your baby sleep better.
When To Stop Swaddling?
Obviously, you would not want the baby’s growth to be restricted, so swaddling is usually required in the first 3 months of a baby’s life. Here are some key developmental milestones that you must look out for knowing the right time to shift to transitioning.
- 1. Growing too strong or too mobile to stay swaddled through the night.
2. Fighting being swaddled or outgrowing it.
3. Rolling over due to increased arm and neck strength.
4. Waking up in the middle of the night often after a history of sleeping well.
5. Decreased or no startle reflex (Moro reflex) without the swaddle.
6. Increase in activity and taking arm(s) out mid-sleep.
Sometimes, babies don’t like being out of swaddles even when they are transitioning. In such cases you’ll have to gradually try and induce it by trying to put the baby to sleep without using a swaddle. It might take a few days but you need not worry, it will happen nevertheless.
Is swaddling safe?
You’re not the first parent to ask this question. That is exactly why we have a whole different blog on this topic but the following information might help you clear your initial fears:
Fear: Hip dysplasia and dislocation
Cure: Make sure your baby’s legs are able to bend outward and upward. Do not swaddle your baby with their hips and knees extended.
Cure: Place your swaddled child on their back for sleep and make sure that the swaddling is wrapped snug enough to prevent dislodging. DO NOT put the baby to sleep on their stomach or side.
Cure: Use a light, breathable muslin fabric, or a blanket designed for swaddling. Also, dress your baby lightly underneath, either in just a diaper, or a onesie. Always be aware of the TOG rating of the swaddle and dress the baby according to the room temperature.
Dos & Don’ts Of Swaddling
1. Not too tight: The swaddling at no cost can be too tight. It will suffocate the baby and can even result in hip dysplasia. To ensure the right amount of snug, always check for space enough for 2-3 fingers between the baby’s body and swaddle.
2. Not too loose: If the swaddle at any point loosens or isn’t snug enough, it can result in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
3. Material: At Haus & Kinder you find the swaddles in the most ideal material and that is muslin. Muslin cloths have been preferred as the best swaddles throughout history. Not only is the material soft and comfortable but the intricate weaving leaves ample space for breathing.
4. Breastfeeding: The baby must not be swaddled while Mama is feeding them. The baby should feel the mother’s breast to feel comfortable and safe. Moreover, babies might feel extremely restricted if swaddled while being fed.
5. TOG: As a caregiver one has to suit the baby’s attire to the room temperature. The TOG rating in clothing defines how thick/warm the material will be. Whatever cloth you use as a swaddle, must not overheat the baby.
What is the right way to swaddle your baby?
All famous dishes have more than one recipe. Similarly, swaddling as an old and accepted method of comforting babies has many techniques.
Out of all the techniques, the diamond swaddle is the easiest and most popular one.
-Lay a blanket down on a safe, flat place for the baby in a diamond shape/position with the top-most corner folded down 4-6 inches for the baby’s head to be outside the swaddle.
-Lay the baby down on their back in the center of the blanket with their neck on the folded corner.
-Pull the left side over and snugly tuck under the baby, keeping the baby's hips loose.
-Never pull their legs straight or force their joints, as this could cause hip dysplasia.
-Pull the bottom corner up and over their left shoulder and then wrap the last corner all the way around your baby. Tuck the final little corner into the little blanket pocket you have created on their front.
Instead of going all old-school you can always opt for Easy Wrap Swaddles, it lessens stress and is super quick. Don’t get annoyed if you cannot master the technique of swaddling in the first dozen times! It takes time but know that it is the best for your little one. Moreover, if people have been following the technique since ages (literally), how hard could it be? Happy swaddling!
The information above is not a substitute for professional medical advice but sharing of information available on the internet and in books. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.