To Swaddle or not to Swaddle, That is the Question

Being a new parent can be hard, without a shadow of a doubt. So many questions, so much conflicting advice and in the end you can feel like your head is spinning with so much information that you have no idea which way to turn. Well, you’re certainly not alone; plenty of parents feel the same way. We’re here to help you through the maze, and one of these mazes you might find yourself in is whether to swaddle your baby or not. If you type ‘swaddling’ into Google, you’ll be faced with a plethora of conflicting articles…yes it’s great for babies, no it’s not great for babies, it’s risky or it’s perfectly safe.

So who do you believe? If you’ve just had your baby, it’s quite likely that when you got your little bundle of joy in your arms, she was swaddled, snug as a bug, just like in your belly.

They haven’t really had much space for a good old stretch and performing some Olympic activities in your stomach and are used to feeling snug! So the sense of being wrapped and protected makes them feel safe and secure.

Is Swaddling Safe? We mentioned this plethora of advice, each one with an opinion for and against swaddling, however, there is extensive research that suggests that swaddling is perfectly safe, and in fact, can reduce the incidence of SIDS by up to 1/3 when done properly. It can help to calm a baby, especially if they’re colicky and it helps them to sleep better. So it’s a win-win situation all-round.

But why is this? Well, you might have noticed that your baby has a ‘startle reflex’, called the ‘Moro reflex’. A loud noise or a sudden movement can literally cause your baby to ‘startle’. When this happens they can cry or even wake themselves up if they’re asleep.

The end result -a fussy and overtired baby. An overtired baby is not a happy baby, and for that fact, neither is an overtired mom. So for a well-rested baby and a happy mom, swaddling is just the answer.

Make Sure you do it Right It’s important to get the swaddling right and it might take a bit of practice, but here’s some clues to the perfect swaddle;

  • Don’t wrap the little one up so tight that they might struggle to breathe
  • Make sure their faces aren’t covered
  • Make sure they aren’t too hot and also make sure you place them on their backs to sleep.
  • Also try to only swaddle them at shut-eye time, so they have the freedom to move those little muscles when they’re awake.

Don’t be alarmed if you think they’re trying to escape the bounds of the swaddle, this is completely normal, as an unsettled baby can flail their arms and legs around. They will settle down soon enough.

What are the Benefits of Swaddling?

  • It is a well-known fact that babies sleep longer by being swaddled. They were snuggled up nice and tight in the womb and they love the sense of security it brings.
  • We’ve spoken about the startle reflex and these movements can make your baby upset. So that nice snug swaddle will keep those jerky movements under control for a happy, content baby.
  • A ground-breaking Australian study showed that swaddling can reduce the incidence of SIDS by up to 1/3.
  • Have you felt those sharp little nails? Well they certainly are sharp and they grow quickly. Almost all babies scratch their faces when the startle in their sleep, so swaddling means fewer scratches too!

When to Start and Stop Swaddling? We recommend that you start swaddling immediately after your baby is born. With regards to stopping, a good milestone is when your baby starts to roll over. This is normally at about two months. The reason for this is if they’re swaddled, they can land up on their stomachs and not be able to turn over, which can be unsafe, so use this as a guideline.

We hope we’ve armed you with the facts about swaddling, and we highly recommend this for a peaceful start to the maze of parenting!

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