Swaddling is a technique that has been used by parents for centuries. It involves wrapping one light and breathable blanket or muslin around the body, leaving the neck and head free.
It’s becoming increasingly popular in modern times due to its recognized ability to soothe babies and help them to sleep longer. And really, what parent doesn’t wish for that?
Frequent crying and distress have been linked to postpartum depression, motherhood obesity, divorce, and stress (to name a few)! This article will cover everything you need to know about swaddling, what not to do, and when to consider weaning your baby away from the comfort of their swaddle blanket. Also, we have selected the best videos on youtube, this way you will see in action the tips and tricks to swaddle your baby properly.
Why swaddle a baby
A swaddle can help babies to feel safe and secure back inside a womb-like environment, which can make adjusting to the outside world a little more gradual and make sleep a little deeper. Swaddles can also help to regulate body temperature during the time that babies don’t have the internal mechanism to do this for themselves.
How long to swaddle a baby per day
It is recommended to swaddle babies during the time that they sleep for – start with between 12-20 hours per day for a newborn baby, and reduce this as they start to become calmer and are sleeping well.
The benefits of swaddling
Here are some of the main reasons that you might want to consider swaddling your newborn baby:
- The startle reflex: Remember that time that you woke yourself up because you were dreaming of falling? Well, babies get that too! And, unfortunately, it can be quite frequent. The startle or Moro reflex will cause them to throw their arms and legs out to the side, waking them up. A swaddle can keep their arms tucked up in a nice warm cuddle to prevent this from happening and allow the whole family a better night of sleep!
- Increase deeper sleep: Deep sleep, or REM sleep, has been found to last for longer periods for babies who are swaddled during sleep.
- Calm crying babies: This is a mom win if ever we saw one. This is thought to work best on babies who are 8 weeks old or less, and can stop a baby from crying almost immediately!
Cons of swaddling
Generally, there is little that can go wrong with swaddling. However, when done incorrectly, there are a few dangers.
- Hip dysplasia: This is where hips don’t form correctly and can sometimes come out of the socket. When swaddling, a baby should be able to freely move their legs to prevent this from happening.
- SIDs: Unfortunately, swaddling can increase the risk of SIDs. This is mainly due to babies being wrapped too tightly around the chest, but can also be caused by swaddling a baby who is able to roll onto their belly. This is why it is important to adjust this technique to the baby’s behavior to ensure that you swaddle safely (See the videos below).
- Breastfeeding: Swaddling has been found to reduce feeding and the ability to suckle properly, which can affect their weight. When choosing to swaddle your baby, remember that a strong breastfeeding relationship is the priority!
When to stop swaddling
Generally, you’ll want to stop swaddling completely at around 4 months of age. Keep an eye out for the following for a few more clues as to when to stop:
- Your baby can roll over by themselves
- They start resisting the swaddle
Swaddling should be kept to a minimum – time spent in the swaddle will change as your baby gets older.
When you want to stop swaddling, start by wrapping your baby with one arm out and see if they continue to sleep well. If this is successful for a few nights, your baby is probably ready to stop swaddling completely.
Alternatives to swaddling
If swaddling isn’t working for you or you just want another option, sleeping bags can be a great choice. These are easier to use as they mostly just involve zipping your baby in and out of the bag. They also allow a little more freedom for those babies who just want to move!
The best techniques videos on how to swaddle your baby
Here you can see a health professional demonstrating to a dad how to simply swaddle a baby so that they are ready for sleep. You’ll also get to see dad having a try – see for yourself how easy it is!
A mommy vlogger shows us 5 different ways to swaddle your baby, all of which keep the legs free to kick around.
In this video, we get to see how-to swaddle a baby while getting a better understanding of what hip dysplasia is and why swaddling can cause it.
Three moms swaddling their babies in 3 different ways, but all making for a very comfortable-looking and happy baby!
A nurse demonstrates 3 different ways to swaddle a newborn baby. This is a great video to watch and follow along to if you’re feeling a little nervous about wrapping your newborn.
Swaddling can be a beautiful way to keep your baby feeling safe and nestled in the weeks after birth, whilst allowing you some time to relax knowing that your baby is going to sleep well. If you want to swaddle your baby but are feeling nervous about how to do it and whether it’s a safe choice – you can always talk to your midwife. Midwives will be able to advise you about swaddling your baby while considering their specific needs.