Should you swaddle your baby?

A swaddle is among the most common baby essentials, mothers use swaddles with their babies from the day they are born. Baby swaddling is an ancient practice, that has been around for centuries. Is swaddling good for your baby? What are the benefits of swaddling? What is the proper way to swaddle a baby? Read on to find out.

Maya Hammoud
Published on:Apr 16th 2022 |Updated on:May 10th 2024
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 What is swaddling?

Swaddling in its most basic form and shape is wrapping the baby, with a swaddle or with a baby blanket. Usually, swaddles are made of muslin, cotton, or any other organic materials. When a baby is swaddled, he has the same feeling, of safety and security, that he used to have while in his mother’s womb. Swaddling makes newborn sleep easier, it also reduces the Moro Reflex, which causes the baby to startle as a reaction to his new environment. More reflex ceases when the baby turns three months or when he starts rolling over.

Benefits of baby swaddle

1-It soothes and calms the baby.

2-Improves baby’s sleep.

3-Decreases the effect of the Moro Reflex and startling.

4-Swaddling is particularly beneficial with premature babies. Studies have shown that swaddling preemies improves their neuromuscular development. In addition to offering them the security and safety, they need especially since they can’t be held by their mothers.

Steps to ensure safe swaddling

1- Back to sleep

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that newborn babies must be put to sleep while flat on their backs. This is to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). This recommendation must be applied especially while the baby is swaddled, to reduce the risk of suffocation. Many parents wonder when they should stop swaddling. It is highly recommended to cease swaddling babies at 8-12 weeks of age, as this is the age when babies start rolling over, so if the baby rolls over while swaddled there is a high risk of suffocation.

2- Snug swaddling

This means having the baby’s body completely wrapped except for the head. Restrict the baby’s movement, which could make him startle and wake up.

3- Baby Monitoring 

Using a high-quality baby monitor is essential for the baby’s protection. Monitoring the baby while asleep in another room is best for sleep safety.

Types of Swaddles

1- Ready-made swaddles

These are the best option for new moms, also known as the modern baby wrap, they are designed with zippers or Velcro. They make swaddling much easier. This type of swaddle is made into stage categories; stage one is where the baby is completely swaddled, stage two is where one arm is released, stage three is when we release the second arm, then we transition to a sleep sack and a sleeping bag. It is noteworthy that these swaddles are designed based on the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

- You can choose the fabric based on the appropriate TOG (which is the number that tells you how warm the swaddle will keep your baby).

3- Traditional swaddles

Those are basic wraps that are made of cotton, muslin, or any other organic material. These swaddles can also be replaced by a light baby blanket.

Risks of wrong swaddling

1- Overheating the baby

Wrongly swaddling the baby can lead to overheating. This happens when the baby is swaddled while wearing several layers underneath the swaddle. It is recommended that the baby wears only one layer of clothing under the swaddle to avoid overheating.

Signs of overheating in babies

- Fast breathing

- Sweaty hair

- Skin rash

- Flushed cheeks

Babies can tolerate temperatures that are three degrees less, than what adults can tolerate, so there is no need to over-layering.

2- Swaddling the baby too tight

Swaddling the baby too tight, especially around the hips can cause hip dislocation. The swaddle must be snug and well wrapped around the baby’s arms and shoulders while leaving the hips and thighs somewhat loose so that the baby can wiggle them easily. This ensures the healthy motor development of the baby.

3- Swaddling the baby too loose

When the swaddle is not wrapped properly around the baby’s shoulders and arms, this can lead to the baby pulling the swaddle over the face which can increase the risk of suffocation. So, the swaddle must be snug on the top part of the baby’s body.

Find out the Best newborn sleep tips

Maya HammoudCertified Sleep Consultant

Maya Hammoud Saldanha, is a mother of a gorgeous boy and the founder of Maya Sleep Consulting. Maya is a Certified Sleep Sense ™ Consultant. For the past 10 years+, she has worked as a special need’s coordinator in different schools in both Lebanon and Dubai. After becoming a mom and suffered of sleep deprivation like all new moms, Maya refused the normalization of the sleep deprivation for moms. Since then, she became very passionate about sleep and motivated her to become a sleep consultant to help other parents/caregivers sleep better and have a healthy happy baby. Maya offers consultations to parents on children’s sleep, while helping them implement the latest recommendations and practices related to babies’ and children’s sleep.

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