Swaddling 101: Follow These Tips To Swaddle Your Baby Right

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Ways To Swaddle Your Baby

Swaddling is an age-old technique that can soothe and pacify babies. Choose a light wrap and lay your baby face up on the wrap with head and neck above the fabric. Fold the wrap across the baby’s body from one side, lift the bottom of the wrap and fold up. Then fold the second side of the wrap across and tuck in. Don’t swaddle babies who can roll over.

As a new mom, you may always be on the lookout for ways to soothe and calm your baby. Have you tried swaddling yet? This time-tested technique has been used across cultures for centuries by mothers to pacify babies. And sometimes, when changing, feeding, and cuddling have all failed, swaddling works! It mimics the cozy, snug feeling of being in the womb and soothes the baby. Swaddling can come in handy when a baby has to get a painful shot or if they are easily distracted while feeding. It’s even been found to help babies with neurological problems and colic.

There’s no doubt swaddling can do wonders to soothe your baby – provided it is done right. Your baby’s safety and well-being are paramount when you swaddle. Read on to find out how you can swaddle your baby safely and comfortably.1 2

1. Choose The Right Wrap

Choosing the right wrap is the first step to comfortably swaddling your baby. This is important because some products and materials may carry a risk of obstructing your baby’s breathing or cause overheating:

  • Make sure the wrap is made of a fabric like cotton which can breathe. Go for something light, with a loose weave. Heavy blankets are not suitable for swaddling as they can cause overheating.
  • If you use a sleep sack, make sure that it doesn’t have tight elastic bands, ribbons, or drawstrings. Also check to see that they’re free of decorations, buttons, or snaps that could come loose and pose a choking hazard.

2. Cover And Tuck: 4 Simple Steps Of Swaddling

Now that you’ve got hold of the right wrap, it’s time to get down to business! Follow these simple steps to swaddle your baby:

  1. Spread out the wrap flat and fold one corner down. Now lay your baby face up on the wrap. Make sure that the baby’s neck and head are not below the folded corner.
  2. Place the baby’s hands on their chest and bring up the wrap from one side over the baby’s arms and tuck it under the baby. Leave some wiggle room for the hips.
  3. Now fold the wrap from bottom up. Make sure you leave a little room so that your baby’s feet can move freely. The baby’s knees and legs should be bent a little and have room to move too.
  4. Bring up the second side of the wrap over the baby and tuck the end underneath. And that’s it! Your baby is now snugly cocooned with only the neck and head exposed.

3. Check And Ensure The Swaddle Is Not Too Tight Or Loose

When you swaddle your baby the wrap should be firm but not tight or overly loose. The right balance is important here. Loose wraps can cover your baby’s face and pose the risk of suffocation. On the other hand, if the wrap is too tight, it can make it difficult for the baby to breathe and even increase chances of pneumonia.3

Make sure there’s enough room for your baby to move their chest – there should be a gap of 2 fingers between your baby’s chest and the wrap.

Tight swaddling can also cause problems with hip development. Babies should have enough room to move their hips and knees freely when they are swaddled. If your baby is tightly swaddled with their legs extended straight, it can cause developmental dysplasia of the hip, a condition where the hip joint is prone to dislocation or is dislocated.

4. Make Sure The Wrap Is Not Too Warm

Another thing that you need to pay attention to when you swaddle your baby is overheating. We’ve already talked about using a light fabric like a cotton sheet or muslin for the wrap. Also ensure that your baby is not overdressed. A light suit might do in cool weather while a singlet and diaper should suffice when the weather is warm. And remember, if your baby starts sweating, it means they are too warm and the swaddle needs to be removed.

5. Leave Arms Loose For Older Babies

For babies aged between 0 and 3 months, bend the elbows and place the hands close to their chin and wrap their arms. This reduces the startle reflex where a baby pulls in their legs and arms when they hear a noise. If your baby is older, leave their arms free so that they can self-soothe.

6. Lay Baby On The Back While Sleeping

Always lay your baby on the back for sleeping – this is particularly important if they are swaddled. According to research, when babies who are swaddled sleep on their stomachs or sides, the risk of sudden infant death goes up drastically. When a baby is face down, they may not be able to raise their head if they have trouble breathing. They may also be more likely to be smothered by a swaddle that comes loose in this position.4

In fact, some experts suggest that babies should not be swaddled for sleep as it increases the risk of sudden infant death.5 To be safe, you can avoid swaddling completely while your baby sleeps. But if you do find that they sleep better while swaddled, ensure they are on their back and keep a close watch.

7. Stop Swaddling When Baby Learns To Roll Or Unwrap The Swaddle

When your baby starts to show signs of rolling over or is able to pull the wrap open, it’s time to stop swaddling. This is because there’s a danger that they could roll over and cover their face. The unraveled fabric could also pose the risk of strangulation or suffocation. If your baby still likes being tucked in, lay them on their back with their feet toward the bottom of the crib and tuck a wrap into the bottom and sides of the crib. And take care to keep the wrap lower than your baby’s armpits.

References   [ + ]

1.Safe wrapping. Red Nose Education.
2, 3, 5.Choosing safer sleep sacks. Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
4.Should you swaddle your baby?. Harvard Health Publications.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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