What is Swaddling?
Swaddling is the act of wrapping your baby in a thin layer of blanket or sheet, burrito-style. The century-old practice helps your baby feel safe and secure and can help them sleep.
Swaddling also gives that snug, familiar, and soothing feeling your baby experienced when they were in the womb. This recreates the exact same sensation – because your baby didn’t have much space to move around when they were trying to reposition their hands and feet.
It is also equivalent to giving them a big hug, and for this reason, swaddling is used as a baby-soothing technique. When done correctly, it can also help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
Are there any risks to swaddling?
When done correctly, swaddling is completely safe.
Do not swaddle your baby too tight, as it may make them uncomfortable and hinder their mobility and development. Make sure they have plenty of room to move their legs and feet, as they are more likely to develop hip dyslapsia if their legs are held pressed together and straight down.
While some parents think that swaddling increases the risk of SIDS, it actually happens because of incorrect techniques. If you do not place babies to sleep on their front and not use thick sheets or blankets, your baby will be completely safe. Also, stop swaddling your baby as soon as they show signs of rolling on to her side or tummy.
If you’re going to swaddle your baby, do it from birth. Introducing it when they’re 2 or 3 months will make them more vulnerable to SIDS, as they’re unfamiliar with the practice.
If you co-sleep with your baby, do not swaddle them to sleep. This may cause them to overheat if your bedclothes cover them, which may also cause SIDS.
Your baby might resist being swaddled.
Or so you think.
The reason that they appear to be struggling is because of the difference in position. While they were in the womb, the resting position was with their arms up by their faces – but when parents do it, it is with their arms down by their side.
If your baby resists it, provide a gentle but constant pressure on their arms to straighten it. After a few seconds, their muscles with relax and it will be easier to get their arms straight along the sides.
Swaddling might cause your baby to cry more initially, but once you follow it up with other calming techniques, it will likely calm them down more readily.
When should I stop swaddling my baby?
There’s no definite answer – but it is recommended to stop around 2 to 4 months.
Do it by stages. First, swaddle them with one arm out and another one in. If this makes them unhappy and cause them to not sleep well, revert to the original swaddle because they are definitely not ready to stop yet. If they are alright with the first stage, continue by removing the other arm.
If your baby can already roll over with the swaddle or escape it, it’s time to start the transition.