Being a new parent can be overwhelming in almost any sense. After the delivery, a nurse in the hospital explains all about swaddling – how to do it properly and what you should pay attention to. Having experienced such a number of emotions, it is normal to forget about the advice almost instantly.
What is swaddling?
Formally speaking, swaddling implies wrapping infants into cloths, garments and blankets in order to limit movement of their limbs. This age-old practice, which is presumed to have been invented in the Palaeolithic, fell out of favour somewhere around the 17th century AD; however, it is slowly returning back on the stage. There are two positions in which infants can sleep: prone and supine. Prone sleeping means sleeping on tummy, and their legs and arms are tucked to the side and this helps them fall asleep. On the other hand, supine sleeping means sleeping on the back, with the possibility of limbs being free so when the baby startles itself and wakes up, its limbs fling up easily which prevents it from settling into sleep. This is where swaddling should be introduced.
Image source Madeleine Ball
Medical studies actually indicate that swaddling helps babies sleep, and remain asleep. Even though there are some psychological disputes over swaddling, studies have indicated that supine sleep lowers the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).Swaddling limits motor movement of limbs, the baby is calm and thus sleeps better. And longer. Since sleeping cycles of babies are 45 to 60 minutes long, swaddling helps them stay asleep for longer, even up to three hours, since heart rate becomes slower and the REM sleep (quiet sleep) is elongated. This way, the baby is kept warm, cosy and secure. After having spent nine months inside your womb, it may be difficult for them to get accustomed to the outside temperature and the surrounding environment. Being comfortably scrunched up, the baby will feel as if it is back in the womb.
Different kinds of swaddling
There are different kinds of swaddling and they depend mainly on the blanket. Thus, the first thing you should choose is the blanket. Never use synthetic or fleece, and use lightweight cotton blankets. During winter or cold days, dress your baby in more clothes, while during summer or hot days you can use few or even no clothes. The ideal blanket should be about 100 x 100 cm and what you should do A classic swaddle can be made this way: lay the blanket out in a diamond shape, lay the baby on top making sure the blanket is above its shoulders. Next, pull one side of the corners down over the baby TIGHTLY with the arms on its chest. Bring the bottom corner up, over one shoulder, tucking the tip under it, and bring the remaining corner over tightly and over the other shoulder. And remember that tight is the crucial term. There is also a Mother Teresa swaddle which implies wrapping the baby’s head to resemble a nun’s and the rest of the body just like in a classic swaddle.
Besides blankets, there are also other options, such as pre-shaped swaddlers and swaddling bags which imitate the womb and give the sense of security, such as Bubbaroo Joey Pouch baby swaddle. The slight pressure they offer around the baby’s body is designed to be comforting, allowing the baby enough movement inside the bag, such as kicking or frogging, and at the same time a natural sleeping position which settles it back to sleep. Another benefit is that they prevent the child from scratching the face and the startle reflex.
What do you think about Swaddling? What “kind” of swaddling have you used on your little one?