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How to Properly Baby Swaddle: Maximize the Benefits

How to Properly Baby Swaddle: Maximize the Benefits

Swaddling has been a part of baby care for hundreds of years. The act of wrapping the baby’s body in a light, breathable fabric presumably mimics the womb’s environment, making them feel warm and secure. However, experts say that swaddling also comes with risks that could potentially hurt babies. Here are the baby swaddle facts you should be aware of.

Fact #1: Swaddling helps calm the baby and puts them to sleep

When done correctly, a baby swaddle allows your little one to calm down, especially when they’re experiencing intense crying or colic. Furthermore, swaddling helps keep babies on their back during sleep – an essential step in reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Besides these benefits, a baby swaddle can also:

  • Teach them to self-soothe since the swaddle makes it seem like they are being snuggled close.
  • Prevent scratches, as it keeps their hands from their face.
  • Protect babies from their reflexes, which means it promotes better sleep.

But please keep in mind that swaddling is not always effective. It may or may not help, depending on the circumstances and the baby’s preference.

baby swaddle

Fact #2: A baby swaddle is more complicated than it seems

When we see swaddled babies, it’s easy to assume that you just need to bundle them up securely with a blanket. However, swaddling is more complicated than that.

To ensure your baby’s comfort and safety, keep the following steps in mind:

  • Don’t just use any fabric. Choose a light, soft, breathable, and durable cloth. If the material is too thick, the baby may overheat. Similarly, if the fabric is rough, it may irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.
  • Perform swaddling on a firm, flat surface. Spread the blanket in a diamond shape, with the bottom pointing towards you. Afterward, fold the top-edge to have a loose-triangle form.
  • Lay down your baby gently, with their shoulder slightly below the folded top. Remember to only wrap their body; their head and neck should be free.
  • Gently place their right arm on their side and pull the same side of the fabric over their body and tuck it snuggly under their back. At this point, leave their left arm free from the baby swaddle.
  • Lift the bottom part of the blanket over their slightly bent legs. You can fold the edge over their body or tuck it under their shoulders if it’s long.
  • Place their left arm on their side, pull the same side of the cloth over their body, and snuggly tuck it under their back.

Fact #3: Baby swaddling comes with risks, too

As much as a baby swaddle can be beneficial, it can also be dangerous. Experts highlight that:

  • Swaddling too tightly increases the risk of developmental dysplasia of the hip, where the ball and socket joints of the hip doesn’t develop properly.
  • A baby swaddle that comes loose increases the risk of suffocation in babies.
  • Babies in a swaddle, when put to sleep on their side or tummy, experience a heightened risk of SIDS.

Fact #4: You may need to stop swaddling by their 2nd month

Even if you put a swaddled baby to sleep on their back, they might accidentally roll over to their side or tummy. As mentioned, this increases the risk of SIDS; furthermore, the risk of smothering from a loose swaddle is also there.

To avoid these dangerous scenarios, you might need to stop swaddling once the baby reaches 2 months. This is because, by that age, they may show signs of attempting to roll over.

Fact #5: Baby swaddling is not required

Finally, remember that a baby swaddle is not required. If your little bundle of joy is happy without swaddling, you don’t need to wrap them up. The most important thing is to ensure that they are safe while sleeping.

Key Takeaways

A baby swaddle helps the newborn calm down in times of distress; it might also promote better sleep. However, it also comes with risks such as SIDS and suffocation, mostly when not done correctly.

Learn more about Baby Care here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

How and When to Swaddle Your Baby
https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/intermountain-moms/2018/11/how-and-when-to-swaddle-your-baby/
Accessed March 9, 2021

Swaddling: Is it Safe?
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Swaddling-Is-it-Safe.aspx
Accessed March 9, 2021

Risks and Benefits of Swaddling Healthy Infants: An Integrative Review
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28394766/
Accessed March 9, 2021

Should you swaddle your baby?
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/should-you-swaddle-your-baby-201605249730
Accessed March 9, 2021

Swaddling and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta-analysis
https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/05/05/peds.2015-3275
Accessed March 9, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jun 03
Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS