If you are about to have a baby, or already have a baby, you will by no doubt have received uninvited tips and advice about swaddling your baby. Well, we have researched this for you!
Swaddling is the term used to wrap baby up in a light, breathable cloth. According to the NCT, website swaddling has been used throughout the world since about 4000 BC. It is believed to help settle the baby, and replicate the warmth, safety and tightness they experienced in the womb. Some people will also tell you it will calm their startle reflex, which in turn will stop baby from waking himself.
It is also recommended that newborn babies are always put to sleep on their backs (to help lower the risk of SIDS), therefore swaddling your baby can help them stay on their backs.
Red Nose Australia has some great tips for swaddling (wrapping baby), and I will share the video at the end of this post.
The main benefits of swaddling are:
1: Before a baby shows any signs of being unable to roll, it can be a useful strategy to keep baby on his/her back (NEVER PLACE A WRAPPED BABY ON THEIR BELLY)
2: Studies have shown that correct swaddling/wrapping can reduce distress in certain babies.
3: One study has shown that wrapping pre-term babies and placing them on their backs have improved neuromuscular development (1)
4. It may increase sleep periods by reducing waking caused by the startle reflex.
What are the risks of swaddling:
1: Placing baby on their belly or side when swaddled. This should never be done.
2: Having too many layers on your baby. If swaddling, ensure they are comfortably dressed underneath and are not going to overheat.
3: Swaddling baby, with hands tucked away, when baby is able to roll
4: Tight wrapping with legs held straight is believed to add to the risk of hip dysplasia.
I personally swaddled all of my babies, and as soon as they could wriggle free (babies are little Houdini's sometimes), I stopped. I followed recommendations from organisations such as Red Nose Australia.
Before you go, watch this video from the Red Nose Org regarding safe wrapping
(1) van Sleuwen BE, Engelberts AC, Boere-Boonekamp MM, Kuis W, Schulpen TWJ, L’Hoir MP. Swaddling: a systematic review. Pediatrics 2007;120:e1097-106.