Benefits of Swaddling
Swaddling a baby from day one is one of the first comforting steps you can make as a new mother. After spending many months in the warmth and security of the womb, being out in the world can be quite an uncomfortable experience for a newborn. In the first few weeks of life many infants are comforted by the feeling of warmth and closeness provided by swaddling – a method of snugly wrapping an infant so that their limbs are immobilized and gently constrained, which mimics the confines of the mother’s womb. In addition to creating a familiar sense of closeness, swaddling reduces the startle reflex babies have for the first few months of their lives. Swaddling provides instant relief by restricting movement and allow baby to sleep without the distraction of involuntary muscle movements. More swaddling equals more sleep equals happy mommy.
The attendants in the hospital nursery make it look easy to swaddle a fussy newborn, but properly wrapping a squirming infant can be a little tricky for new mommies. It helps to think “burrito.”
- Lay the blanket out flat in a diamond shape on a baby-safe surface.
- Fold the top of that diamond down five or six inches.
- Place the infant’s shoulders and neck on the cloth with the head just above the edge of the fold, so that her back is on top of the folded corner.
- Wrap the left corner of your diamond shape across her chest, making sure her right arm is slightly bent and pressed gently and firmly against her body. Lift baby’s left arm and tuck the cloth beneath her.
- Fold the bottom of your diamond up and snugly tuck it in at baby’s chest with her legs extended. If you fold up the bottom when her legs are scrunched up, she will undo the swaddle when she stretches her legs again.
- Wrap the right corner of your diamond across baby, making sure her left arm is slightly bent and pressed gently and firmly against her body, then wrap the edge of the cloth snugly around the back and tuck.
Some experts suggest that the baby’s hands should be accessible to the mouth for self soothing. It is important to pay attention to cues from baby and adjust the swaddle accordingly. Remember that every baby is unique, and some are not comforted by this method.
Warning: Babies old enough to roll over should not be swaddled. A baby should never be wrapped so tightly that its breathing is restricted, nor should the blanket induce overheating. All of these put your baby at increased risk for SIDS.