The practice of baby-swaddling dates back centuries and is still common in many cultures. Swaddling involves wrapping a baby securely from shoulders to feet with a small blanket. American Indians and people from the Middle East and Asia use bands and more sophisticated swaddling techniques, but more simpler blanket based swaddling techniques are still traditional practice in such countries as Turkey, Afghanistan and Albania.
Swaddling can be a great way to calm and sooth a fussy infant and has been shown to help babies sleep longer and more restfully by preventing the sudden movements that can cause them to smack themselves in the face and wake up. Babies who are swaddled are said to feel secure, similar to how they felt while in utero. It can also assist in temperature regulation, keeping baby nice and toasty warm while sleeping.
A couple of additional perks to swaddling come during waking hours, too. A swaddled baby is easy to carry and hold- a cute, compact little package. It can also help baby focus on breastfeeding by keeping little hands out of the way.
Swaddling usually works best from newborn to approximately four months. Babies just being introduced to swaddling may require an adjustment period. Modified swaddling, such as leaving arms free while swaddling the rest of baby’s body, might be needed when first introducing the practice to your baby. The blanket should always feel snug but not tight. Take special care to ensure baby’s circulation is not compromised in any way or that baby is not uncomfortable.
As your baby gets older and moves around a bit on its own, you will know when it is time to stop or to perhaps swaddle with the arms free. I continue to loosely wrap my babies well into toddlerhood and the wrap becomes a sleep cue. They seem to like the familiarity of it. My point here is that you can continue and modify as YOU see fit.
Swaddling and SIDS
Swaddling is not a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome provided you follow some basic guidelines.
- Never place a swaddled baby on its tummy to sleep.
- Make sure your baby is not overheated
- Uncover your baby’s head to sleep
- Loosen the swaddle as your baby gets older and gains more muscle control- baby will intuitively position himself safely.
Here are some of my favourite You Tube videos that demonstrate different swaddling techniques. As usual, different babies will respond differently to each method so it can be good to try them all and see what works for you and your little bundle of joy.
My Favourite Swaddling Videos
And, my personal favorite: