Swaddling is the ancient practice of snugly wrapping a baby in a thin blanket, muslin or sheet to help the baby feel safe and secure. Most cultures have used swaddling for centuries as a way of helping babies feel more settled and as a method to help them sleep. It also helps the baby to adjust to life outside the womb.
Normally swaddling is used for the first four months of a baby’s life. After that time most full term babies have become fully acclimatised to life outside the womb. They no longer crave the restriction of a swaddle. It is worth mentioning that every baby is different and hence some enjoy being swaddled for several months, others may be ready to get rid of being swaddled as early as 2 - 3 months.
Key advantages to swaddling a baby are..
Swaddling helps prevent the baby from significant movement of the arms and legs. This can cause a surprise reflex and result in the baby waking up which may scare the baby.
As the baby adjusts to life outside the womb swaddling will keep the baby cosy and warm while the natural adjustment of body temperature develops.
Swaddling will help a baby feel less anxious and, therefore, sleep better.
Mastering swaddling techniques can be a little intimidating as new born babies are very fragile.
The following is a useful guide on how to swaddle a baby and will help you to follow safe swaddling techniques.
Find A Flat Surface
Spread the swaddle blanket out on a flat surface in the shape of a diamond with one corner pointing upwards. Fold the top edge down about six inches.
Place The Baby On The Blanket
Position the baby’s head on the folded edge with the rest of the body downwards to the bottom corner.
Straighten Out The Left Arm
Then hold the left side of the swaddle blanket and gently wrap it over the left side of the baby’s body. Tuck it beneath the baby’s right arm and then behind the baby’s back. The left shoulder and arm will now be snug and covered and the right arm will be free.
Bring The Bottom Edge Up
Fold the bottom edge of the swaddle blanket up over the baby's body and tuck it under the first fold beneath the chin. Fold the right side of the swaddle blanket over the baby's right arm and across the body and tuck it under the left side of the baby's body.
Secure The Blanket
Loosely wind the bottom of the blanket and tuck it beneath the baby.
Once the baby is secured in the swaddle bear these final points in mind :-
The swaddle should not be too tight. You should be able to put your fingers between the baby's chest and the blanket. This will ensure the baby’s comfort and allow some freedom of movement.
Do not over swaddle. Using double swaddle blankets can cause the baby to overheat.