Swaddling…It’s a time-tested practice that dates back hundreds of years and It works like magic for a tired or fussy baby. It can take an unsettled baby and turn them into a beautifully calm baby in 10 seconds flat!
Here’s the thing…Your baby has just spent 9 months in a tiny space INSIDE your body. They have been in a little cocoon that has kept them safe and sound. Then they are suddenly birthed into this brand new world where there is noise, lights and A-LOT of space! Quite honestly this feels very unnatural to them! They’ve gotten used to the comfort of being confined to your womb and it’s going to take some time for them to adjust to this gigantic world that they are now living in.
Swaddling is ONE way to make your baby feel safe and sound while encouraging elongated sleep.
Unfortunately, many new moms and dads don’t realize how important it is or how much their babies LOVE to be swaddled! I hear it all the time….”But my baby doesn’t like to be swaddled!” Well, I have to tell you I have never met a baby that doesn’t LOVE the swaddle…..as long as they are being “properly” swaddled. A properly swaddled baby is swaddled snugly with minimal ability to move their arms away from their body. Just like inside the womb. Yes, I know this sounds like a form of torture to you and me but let me tell you, young babies absolutely love this as it is the easiest way to make them feel safe, sound, and secure. They want to feel the familiarity of the womb and swaddling is as close as its going to get! (Unless you want to be holding your baby snugly in your arms 24/7!)
One of the biggest mistakes new moms and dads make is swaddling their baby so loose that their baby’s natural inclination is to “fight” against it. Or they may start out swaddled nice and snug but within a short time they have their arms up and out of the swaddle, (babies wiggle a lot!) and then they are fussy and crying. Mom and dad then come to the conclusion that their baby simply doesn’t like to be swaddled as they seem to always be trying to “break free”! So they stop swaddling and consequently their baby doesn’t sleep for more than an hour or two at a time. No thanks! Let’s avoid that!
I’m here to tell you the truth…
Babies need to be swaddled in order to sleep for extended periods of time. A swaddle done properly can lengthen a young baby’s nighttime sleep by several HOURS. Yes, I said hours! Here’s why… babies are born with a startle reflex and that reflex will keep a baby from staying in sound sleep. They will wake themselves frequently throughout the night if their arms are free or if they have too much movement within the swaddle. The other reason babies need the swaddle is that they are being put to sleep on their backs to decrease the risk of SIDS. Back sleeping may be safer but it is a VERY unnatural position for a baby to sleep in. Babies DO NOT love being flat on their backs…Hence the need for the swaddle.
I have used several different swaddles over the course of my sleep training experience and while they’re are several good swaddles on the market, if I was going to recommend just one, it would be The Miracle Blanket. I love this blanket as it is a foolproof way to keep babies snug and to help maximize their sleep! Now, what new parent doesn’t want that? The reason the Miracle Blanket works so well is that it holds baby’s arms snugly by their sides (no breaking out!) and it has a long piece of fabric that wraps around their chest and arms. Babies love having gentle pressure on their chests. It also allows their legs to move freely which is what you want in order to avoid hip dysplasia.
Becoming an expert swaddler (something you will want to strive towards!) does take some practice but it is well worth the effort! However, if your swaddled baby still isn’t sleeping as well as you’d like please contact me for a further evaluation of your child’s sleep issues and we can get you started on the path to healthy sleep in no time!