The practice of swaddling

It’s been used for centuries as a way to help babies relax, and sleep soundly—music to our ears! Here is the 411 to make sure you are doing it safely and effectively.

Swaddling is a practice that’s as old as time—just think back to baby Jesus all wrapped up! Known for soothing babies and helping them sleep, they say being snug in the swaddle recreates the comfort and security of being in the womb. The best part of the actual swaddle is that it can have numerous purposes, like a nursing cover or burp cloth, and even a play blanket. Here, we share some important information to keep in mind before swaddling your baby for a night’s sleep.

The benefits

Swaddling boasts a number of pros, including the number one reason babies sleep more soundly: it prevents them from waking up due to their startle reflex. You’ll notice your baby might jerk their arm or leg once in a while in their sleep and that could be enough to wake them up, if not properly swaddled. Also, because it resembles being in mommy’s tummy, feeling snugly held soothes babies and can help reduce excessive crying. Moreover, a swaddle can also help keep baby warm. All of these benefits, however, can easily turn into cons, without the proper know-how.

Back to sleep

The only safe sleeping position for a baby is lying on their back. And even more so for a swaddled baby; you have to monitor them to make sure they don’t roll over.

When to stop

Stop swaddling your baby when they start being more mobile. As soon as you see they are able to roll over in their crib, it’s time to move on from this practice. Make sure you don’t leave any other blankets lying around and no toys or anything that a baby can suffocate on. 

Hip-healthy swaddling

A baby’s legs should never be tightly wrapped straight down and pressed together. You need to keep hips loose, so that the legs are able to bend up and out at the hips to allow for natural development of the hip joints. Improper swaddling can sometimes lead to developmental dysplasia of the hip. Not too snug!

Avoid overheating

The first sign that your baby is getting too hot is that they’ll feel warm to the touch. Periodically check your baby’s neck, chest and back to make sure they’re not sweating. Especially when they’re wrapped up in the swaddle you need to make sure your baby doesn’t overheat.

Muslin weaved swaddles like this one (link) are extra soft and breathable to keep baby cool and comfortable.

July 19, 2019 — James DiMiele