Swaddling a Baby – When & How to Do It Right Way

Swaddling is recognized as a highly beneficial action for the baby. However, there are times when it might turn out to be harmful if not done using the proper technique. Generally, baby swaddle is implemented for babies below one month of age. For babies above that age, swaddling might cause constraint on the movements and the growth of the infant.

Video: How to Swaddle a Baby Step by Step Guide

What is Swaddling?

Swaddling is a technique of pacifying the babies by wrapping them in a blanket to ensure that the baby is cosy and comfortable. It also pacifies the baby by offering them warmth. A baby can be swaddled in two ways. One method is tighter in order to be more protective while the other is done in a loosened fashion leaving the arms free. While swaddling can still be done after the baby is one month old, it can be done as the infant sleeps to minimize any impact on their mobility.

Why Swaddle Your Baby?

  • Swaddling is done to improve the sleep of the baby by soothing the baby.
  • Initially, it might be difficult, and the baby might even get frustrated. But eventually, this process enhances calm, peaceful and better sleep.
  • It improves the neuro-muscular development of the baby.
  • It helps infants to get uninterrupted sleep for a prolonged period.
  • It helps recreate the womb space and comforts the baby with a familiar surrounding during its first month.

When to Swaddle Your Newborn?

When to swaddle is a personal choice of the parents. Some do it any time of the day whenever the baby gets fussy. Others follow this only during the night, habituating the baby to sleep quickly when it is wrapped.

How to Swaddle a Baby?

There are many techniques followed while swaddling but the most common procedure is explained below –

  • To swaddle, place the blanket out horizontally, with one edge folded down.
  • Place the baby facing-upwards on the blanket, with its head above the folded edge.
  • Align its left arm, and wrap the left side of the blanket over its body and tuck it in-between right shoulder and the right side of the body.
  • Then put the right arm down and wrap the right side of the blanket over its body under the left-hand side.
  • Fold or twist the blanket’s bottom loosely by pleating it under one side of the baby. Make sure that the baby’s hips can move and that the blanket is not too tight.

This is the most common way to swaddle where we put the baby on its back and gently drape the blanket like a diamond. This is done by tucking the edges diagonally making sure both the legs are free and out of the blanket. Other swaddling techniques include square swaddle and sleep sack swaddle. The square swaddle is a technique wherein a baby is placed on a blanket that resembles a square before beginning the process. The sleep sack swaddle is a product that has an adjustable swaddle wrap which is designed to prevent the startle reflex in babies. Choosing a technique is all about the comfort level of your baby. These swaddling techniques are suitable for newborn babies who are not used to sleeping well and require to be held all the time.

Note that baby swaddle is a double-edged sword as it has equal benefits and drawbacks depending on the kind of technique followed to swaddle a baby.

The process of swaddling may cause an interference in the bonding and attachment between babies and parents. There are also a few common physical problems that are noticed. The major physical challenges your baby might experience due to incorrect swaddling are:

1. Overheating

Overheating is one risk that can occur if the baby is not swaddled properly. The baby may not be able to move freely inside, and this can cause a rise in body temperature

2. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a medical condition where the growth and development of the hips are hindered due to being locked up in an immovable state. Whenever the babies move their legs, the femur bone movement inside the socket supports the happening of changes to the joints. Otherwise, the socket will develop into a plate-like structure leading to shallow sockets that cause problems with hip movement. This might affect the functioning of the joints in the long run

3. Respiratory Tract Problems

When a baby is tightly swaddled, it restricts their ability to breathe which could lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The correct way to swaddle a baby should be followed or else the likelihood of upper respiratory tract infections increases

When to Stop or Avoid Swaddling a Baby?

When to stop swaddling is one of the major concerns that all mothers have. Swaddling is a technique which may limit the movement of limbs. Limb movement is essential for the development of muscular and central nervous system. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you should consider stopping swaddling when your baby looks like he is trying to roll over. Many babies learn to do this between 4-6 months.

Can You Swaddle a Newborn at Night?

Yes. Swaddling can be done at night, but the right procedures must be followed to ensure the baby gets good sleep. If you do follow the right techniques and precautions, then you can swaddle for 4-5 months. should be

Precautions to Take While Swaddling

There are a few precautions that can be followed if you want to swaddle your baby. These include:

  • It is not recommended to allow a swaddled baby to sleep on its stomach position as it might increase the risk of SIDS. They are swaddled and kept with their back lying on the surface to avoid suffocation and breathlessness.
  • The health of the baby in combination with his/her respiratory rate plays a crucial role in deciding the extent to which one can swaddle them. Ensure that the baby is taken for regular check-ups before going ahead with the swaddling.
  • The material used for swaddling can be used as an aid in the minimizing the related after-effects of swaddling. Generally, lighter and soft blankets are used for wrapping babies to avoid any physical discomfort.
  • It is not advised to swaddle babies very tightly. Sometimes, parents do this to avoid baby freeing up himself/herself easily and getting hurt. Holding on to the baby tightly, on the other hand, would obstruct breathing and cause dislocation along with dysplasia.
  • A movement monitor can assist in monitoring the movements of the baby when swaddled for longer durations and help the parents look out for warning signs. If these little precautions are followed, parents don’t need to worry about how long to swaddle baby.

Swaddling helps parents to put their infant children to sleep. During their first month in the outside world, infants need all the rest they can get. Though there are some inherent dangers, using the right techniques on swaddling will ensure that the baby will be safe and sound.