How to Take the Guesswork Out of Swaddling
Swaddling newborn babies is incredibly common and will probably remain that way for a very long period of time. But like most parenting situations, there arises a few questions: Why would I swaddle my baby? Is swaddling safe? How do I swaddle? What type of blanket is best for swaddling? And again, like most parenting situations: it is completely up to you! (And your baby, if they’re particular about their swaddle, some babies don't like to be swaddled at all!) It is your decision, after doing some research and studying, on whether you will swaddle your babe, if you deem it safe, which swaddling method you use, and of course, the type of blanket you use for the occasion.Keep that in mind as I do some slight informing about swaddling in general and talk about a wonderful swaddle blanket that we highly recommend.
Why would I swaddle my baby?A few reasons why parents appreciate the swaddling technique:
1. WarmthThis is pretty obvious, but a blanket wrapped snug around a babe is going to provide warmth. This is especially important in the first few days of life since baby is so used to a warm and cozy womb! Not only are they warm to begin with, a proper swaddle shouldn’t come easily undone, so baby stays warm all through the night!
2. Elimination of startle reflexBabies tend to startle while sleeping, causing them to flinch with various degrees of movement which then has the potential of waking them up. Swaddling is helpful because it keeps baby’s limbs in close proximity to their body, so that startling themselves awake isn’t as common.
3. ComfortThink of the tight confines of mama's belly! Sure it can’t be the most comfortable thing in the world being curled up in there for so long, but going from snug and cozy to stretched out in the open is quite the adjustment! Swaddling baby helps comfort baby and acts as a transition from the inside to the outside.
4. RoutineIt’s no secret that babies thrive on any type of a routine! Swaddling is a simple way to let baby know that it is bedtime. Swaddle = time to sleep.
Is swaddling safe for my baby?Under the right circumstances and following the proper guidelines, swaddling is indeed safe for your baby. To help avoid SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises the following:
- 2-3 fingers should fit between the baby’s chest and the blanket
- Swaddle should not be too tight on the baby’s hips, which could cause hip dysplasia or other hip problems
- Baby should be laid down on his/her back, not side or stomach
- Baby should be laid on a firm sleep surface
- Nothing besides baby should be inside of the crib (bumpers, loose blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, etc.)
- Discontinue swaddling before baby can roll over or as soon as baby begins rolling over
- Do not let the baby get too hot
- Keep baby away from smokers and places where people smoke
- Offer a pacifier at naptime/bedtime
- Schedule and attend all well-child visits
How do I swaddle?
Supposedly, the nurses at the hospital are in charge of teaching you how to swaddle your baby before leaving the hospital. This wasn’t the case with my first babe, and I still get sad thinking about those first few nights home with a baby semi-swaddled and probably cold and uncomfortable. My advice to new moms? Master the swaddle before leaving the hospital! It helps to have an actual swaddle blanket besides the ones they give you at the hospital; those tend to be big and bulky and hard to learn with. I suggest something more like an Aden + Anais Silky Soft Bamboo Swaddle Blanket or KicKee Pants Swaddle Blanket, or a different type of swaddling blanket that I'll get to in a minute!
A common misconception is that there is only one way to swaddle your babe. I have my personal favorite, and I’m sure every mom has a specific way of doing it, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other methods to try! Luckily, we live in an age with information at our fingertips! Videos, tutorials, and step-by-step directions are available on the Internet. Give a few of them a try before settling with one method. You may be surprised when you find another method you, or your baby, like even better! All varieties of swaddling include a tight (but not too tight!) wrap around the baby from a few different directions. Be sure that no loose ends have the ability to cover baby’s face while they sleep, and try to make the underneath side as lump-free as possible! And remember: practice makes perfect!
What blanket should I use for swaddling?
There are loads of wonderful options when it comes to swaddle blankets, but a new favorite of ours is the Ollie World Swaddle Blanket. This is a special type of blanket, It is made especially for swaddling and includes Velcro strips for a secure fit and a strong hold. Made with a soft moisture-wicking fabric, these are designed to help keep baby at a safe sleeping temperature. Simply place him or her in the center of the blanket, wrap and secure both sides with the sturdy Velcro, and tie off the bottom to keep those little piggies warm! To read more about this amazing swaddle, visit this recent blog post: Snuggle Them Close with Ollie World.
Ollie World Swaddle Blanket
If you have more questions that weren’t answered here regarding swaddling safety, don’t hesitate to ask for help! Pediatricians, nurses, other moms, and other resources are available and should be used if you need them. And one more thing---Enjoy the snuggly, swaddled, somewhat non-wiggly snuggles while you can. They certainly don’t last forever!