Swaddling is a practice that has been used for centuries to help calm and soothe newborns. It involves wrapping a baby snugly in a blanket or swaddle to create a cozy and secure feeling that mimics the sensation of being in the womb. Swaddling can be an effective way to help newborns feel safe and secure, and it can also help prevent the startle reflex that can cause them to wake up suddenly. However, there are some important do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when swaddling a newborn to ensure that it is done safely and effectively.
Do’s of Swaddling a Newborn
Use a Lightweight and Breathable Swaddle
When swaddling a newborn, it is important to choose a lightweight and breathable swaddle. This will help prevent overheating and ensure that the baby is comfortable while sleeping. Look for swaddles made from materials like cotton or muslin that are soft and gentle on a baby’s delicate skin. The Miracle blanket, Swaddle Me, or Ollie Swaddle are a few of my favorites.
Swaddle Snugly, but Not Too Tight
Swaddling should be snug, but not too tight. The swaddle should be wrapped firmly around the baby’s body, but there should still be enough room for the baby to breathe comfortably and move their legs and hips. Overly tight swaddling can increase the risk of hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint is not properly developed. Your baby’s arms should be snug to their sides or across their chest. If you feel like your baby is fighting against the swaddle then the swaddle is likely too loose. A properly swaddled baby is generally calm and peaceful. And remember a baby may cry while being swaddled but they should calm quickly once the swaddle is in place.
Keep the Swaddle Below the Baby’s Shoulders
When swaddling a newborn, it is important to keep the swaddle at or just below the baby’s shoulders. This will allow the baby to move their arms and prevent the swaddle from covering their face or impeding their breathing.
Use a Safe Sleeping Surface
It is important to swaddle a baby on a safe sleeping surface. This means using a firm and flat mattress that is covered with a fitted sheet. Avoid using pillows, blankets, or other soft materials that can increase the risk of suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Swaddle for Sleep Only
Swaddling should be used for sleep only. It is important to unwrap the baby when they are awake and to avoid swaddling them during feedings or when they are awake and alert.
Don’ts of Swaddling a Newborn
Don’t Swaddle Too Tight
Swaddling a newborn too tightly can increase the risk of hip dysplasia and other complications. The swaddle should be snug, but not so tight that the baby is unable to breathe comfortably or move their legs and hips.
Don’t Swaddle Above the Shoulders
Swaddling above the baby’s shoulders can increase the risk of suffocation or impede their breathing. Always keep the swaddle below the baby’s shoulders to ensure that they can move their arms and breathe comfortably.
Don’t Use Thick or Heavy Materials
Thick or heavy materials can increase the risk of overheating and make it difficult for the baby to regulate their body temperature. Stick to lightweight and breathable materials like cotton or muslin to ensure that the baby is comfortable while sleeping.
Don’t Swaddle When the Baby Can Roll Over
Swaddling should be discontinued when the baby is able to roll over with ease. This usually occurs around four to six months of age. Remember, rolling over here and there typically isnt a reason to immediately discontinue the swaddle. Most swaddled babies aren’t going to be able to roll once they’re swaddled for sleep.