Soothing And Safe: How To Swaddle A Baby
Most babies are easily overwhelmed by the bright, chaotic world outside their mother's womb, but swaddling a baby can be just what is needed to keep your little one feeling safe and secure!
Newborns love to snuggle - after all, they're in what's commonly referred to as "the fourth trimester," the period of time when a newborn baby adjusts to the outside world. Most babies are easily overwhelmed by the bright, chaotic world outside their mother's womb, but swaddling a baby can be just what is needed to keep your little one feeling safe and secure!
Why do babies enjoy being swaddled?
Swaddling prevents a newborn's startle reflex.
Newborns often make jerky movements, called the Moro reflex or startle reflex, and usually occurs when a baby is exposed to sudden movements or loud noises. This reflex can hinder a baby's sleep. Careful swaddling may help prohibit your baby's startle reflex from jolting her awake at night.
Thankfully, the Moro reflex usually disappears after your baby is a few months old and begins to sleep more soundly at night.
Swaddling keeps a newborn warm and snug.
The only time a baby should use a blanket at night is when they are being swaddled. A soft swaddle blanket can be the key to a good night's sleep for your little one! Swaddling a baby keeps him comfortable and warm as it keeps his arms and legs close to his body.
Newborns have a difficult time regulating their body temperature, and swaddling your baby can be useful for helping her stay warm without using blankets.
Swaddling creates a womblike feeling.
The early weeks are often referred to as "the fourth trimester" because infants often struggle with the separation from the mother's body. Newborns value closeness to caregivers in order to form secure attachments. Swaddling a baby can help your baby feel a similar sense of security to being curled up in the mother's womb.
When an infant feels a similar sense of warmth and security as they experienced in the womb, this creates an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. Swaddling can help with a newborn's sleeping patterns.
How do I swaddle a baby?
Swaddling your baby isn't complicated if you use the right blanket and a good technique. Using a blanket made of soft, stretchy material such as muslin cotton or bamboo can be helpful for swaddling. You'll want to practice your technique to make sure that your baby is tightly wrapped in the blanket.
Here's how to swaddle a baby, in four simple steps:
Fold the blanket into a triangle shape by folding down one corner. Next, gently place your baby in the middle of the blanket, with his shoulders positioned just below the folded corner.
Take your baby's right arm and place it next to his body, with the baby's arm slightly bent. Grab the side of the swaddle and pull it tightly across your little one's chest, and then tuck the edge of the swaddle under the body. Your baby's left arm should be free.
Next, fold the bottom corner of the blanket up, covering your baby's feet. Tuck it into the top of the swaddle by your baby's shoulder.
Take your baby's left arm and place it next to his body, slightly bent. Take the swaddle and pull it tightly across the baby's chest. Tuck this piece of the swaddle blanket under your baby.
Once you've correctly swaddled your baby, her arms should be secure against her body. Her legs can be outstretched or bent, however, she feels comfortable. Many swaddle blankets contain a step by step guide or swaddling tips for parents to follow. There are different methods of swaddling your baby, but the most important factor to keep in mind is safety.
Swaddling can help soothe a baby to sleep. When a baby is wrapped in a soft blanket, he is more likely to remain calm and peaceful during sleep. If the swaddle is too tight or too loose, your little one might be uncomfortable. If your baby has a hard time settling after you've swaddled him, unwrap him and try again. Swaddling takes practice and patience!
Swaddling your baby should follow safety guidelines for newborns.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) argues that swaddling can be a very effective way to promote restful sleep for newborns when it is done correctly. Parents can learn how to swaddle by watching tutorial videos online or attending newborn care classes.
To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the AAP recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep. When babies are swaddled and placed on their stomach, or they roll to their stomach, the risk of suffocation increases. Swaddling should only be done when a baby is placed on his back to sleep.
Parents should stop swaddling when their baby shows signs of rolling.
As soon as your baby shows signs of wanting to roll over, it's time to stop swaddling. Swaddling is potentially dangerous for a baby that learns to roll over in their sleep. Only swaddle your baby if he is younger than a few months old and shows no interest in rolling over.
A safe alternative to swaddling your baby is using a sleep sack or wearable blanket. These allow your baby's arms to remain free and give his hips and legs more freedom of movement. Sleep sacks come in a variety of designs and thickness, so choose one that meets your baby's preferences and needs.
Some sleep sacks compress the baby's arms and chest and should not be used once a baby starts showing interest in rolling. However, wearable blankets and sleep sacks that allow the baby to move freely can be used well into infancy and toddlerhood and provide a much safer alternative to loose blankets.
Swaddling may present some risks.
Swaddling decreases the baby's startle reflex, but it also decreases their level of arousal at night, making it more difficult for the baby to wake up. Swaddling is preferable to parents because it allows them to get more sleep, but decreased arousal can become problematic when it leads to SIDS. Parents should be aware that it is developmentally normal for newborns to wake frequently throughout the night. A newborn's health and growth is dependent on frequent feedings and responsive caregivers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics gives several tips for safe sleep. First, parents should always place their baby on his back to sleep. Caregivers should watch for signs that their baby is trying to roll over, which is dangerous if the baby is being swaddled to sleep. Keep all loose blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, and toys out of the baby's crib. Even a swaddle that is too loose can become a risk if it covers your baby's face and affects proper breathing.
Avoid products that are said to promote sleep, but are not proven to be safe for newborns. This includes crib bumpers, sleep positions, and wedge pillows. Your infant is safest in an empty crib or bassinet with a firm mattress.
Swaddling can also become a risk if it causes your baby to overheat. Newborns can't regulate their body temperature, so swaddling can increase the chances that your baby's body temperature will rise too much. If you notice your baby sweating, breathing rapidly, or has wet hair, she might be too warm. You can dress your baby in lightweight clothes and choose a swaddle blanket that is made of thinner material.
Your baby's hips can also be affected by swaddling.
Babies that are swaddled too tightly can develop hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint has an abnormal formation. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to keep their baby's hips loose, without straightening and tightly wrapping the baby's legs. The legs should be able to bend upward, even when swaddled.
The KeaBabies SOOTHE Swaddle Wraps are the ideal design for newborn babies.
The KeaBabies SOOTHE Swaddle Wraps come in packs of three and are perfect for little ones! They are ergonomically designed to help comfortably position your baby's hips and legs. They are made from soft, breathable organic cotton that is luxuriously gentle on your newborn's sensitive skin.
These swaddle wraps are durable, soft, and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Each swaddle contains a loop to attach a pacifier. The velcro swaddles are easy to use and require just four simple steps to securely swaddle your baby.
The KeaBabies SOOTHE Swaddle Wraps are machine washable. Be sure to wash the swaddle wraps in cold water, and tumble dry on low. They are durable enough to last through many washes without losing their shape or stretch!
Swaddling a baby doesn't have to be a complicated endeavor. With the KeaBabies SOOTHE Swaddle Wraps, you can swaddle your baby to sleep with ease. Swaddling can help your baby sleep soundly throughout the night and might just be the key to a great night's rest!
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.