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Swaddling is an age-old child-care practice to comfort a baby. The baby is snuggly wrapped up in a soft blanket to help promote sleep and make them feel safe and secure. Wrapping a newborn in a blanket makes them feel similar to being in a mother’s womb and helps soothe them (1). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, swaddling promotes longer sleep in babies (2).
Learn how to swaddle a baby, the benefits of swaddling, the correct procedure, and safety measures to consider while swaddling.
Is Swaddling Safe?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that swaddling a baby is safe when done properly (1). It can help keep the baby warm, soothe the baby and promote good sleep. It also suggests placing the baby on their back while swaddling to create a safe sleep environment. The swaddle should not be too tightly wrapped around the baby as it might lead to suffocation or problem in the hips (hip dysplasia) (3).
What Are The Benefits Of Swaddling?
Several other benefits of swaddling your baby apart from promoting good sleep are as follows (4):
- Calms a colicky baby (a healthy baby who cries a lot)
- Aids better and longer sleep
- Can be put to sleep on their back easily
- Helps prevent the startle reflex, which means the baby will not startle in the middle of their sleep.
- Helps reduce separation anxiety in your baby as the swaddle imitates a mother’s womb, making the baby feel safe.
- Helps reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as it keeps pillows, blankets, or toys away from the baby’s reach and crib.
How To Swaddle A Baby?
- Spread out the swaddling blanket on a flat surface and arrange the blanket in a diamond shape, with the bottom pointing towards you.
- Fold the top edge of the blanket, making it in the shape of a loose triangle.
- Place your baby on the blanket with their feet pointing towards you and their shoulders below the blanket’s fold.
- Place your baby’s right arm next to their body by slightly bending the arm. Next, fold the same side of the blanket over your baby’s arm and body and tuck it underneath their body on the other side. Remember to leave your baby’s left hand free.
- Loosely fold the bottom of the blanket over the baby’s feet.
- Take the remaining part (left corner) of the blanket and pull it over the left arm and across the right side of the body.
What Are The Safety Considerations When Swaddling?
- Ensure the swaddle is properly wrapped around the baby so it does not loosen during the night, putting your baby at risk of suffocation.
- There might be chances your baby is getting overheated if the swaddle is too tight or the room’s temperature is warm. Check for the signs of sweating, flushness, discomfort, or rapid breathing.
- Place the baby on their back after swaddling. Laying babies on their back when sleeping helps reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Leave enough room inside the swaddle for the free movement of their hips and legs.
- Stop swaddling your baby once they start to roll over to their sides.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it okay not to swaddle my newborn?
It is okay if your newborn does not want to be swaddled. If they are happy and comfortable going to sleep without being swaddled, you don’t have to worry about it (6).
2. How long should I swaddle my baby?
You should stop swaddling your baby once they start to try and roll over to their sides as it might increase the risk of SIDS.
3. What kind of swaddle should I use for my baby?
The cloth or swaddle blanket you plan to swaddle your baby should be of a soft and breathable fabric. This will ensure the baby does not feel suffocated. A wearable blanket can also be used for swaddling.
4. Should I swaddle my baby with arms up or arms down?
It is recommended to swaddle your baby with their arms down and tucked on their sides.
Swaddling a baby helps them sleep better and feel safe. However, remember not to wrap around the swaddle too tightly as it can suffocate the baby and leave no space for their legs and hips free movement. Learning the correct way of swaddling can keep both mother and baby happier.