The subject of swaddling, and whether or not it’s good for babies, has been a hotly contested topic for years - but not nearly as many years as parents have been swaddling their babies! Swaddling is the practice of wrapping up a baby in breathable cloth, such as a cotton swaddling blanket, to limit the movement of their limbs, and there is evidence of it being done as far away as Central Asia and all the way back to 4000 BC! But is it good for babies, or not? Read on to learn more about swaddling and how best to do it…
Swaddling applies even pressure around your baby’s body which recreates the sensation of being in the uterus and can help to soothe your infant! The immobilisation of their arms and legs can also help when they’re feeling overstimulated and encourage them to calm down.
There are two main hazards to swaddling your baby. The first is the risk of hip dysplasia, wherein a babies’ hips are strained and don’t develop properly, and can happen if you swaddle your baby too tightly around the legs and hips. Infants who are swaddled past the age when they can roll over are also at risk of SIDS, or cot death, as they may roll over and suffocate, so it’s very important to stop the practice once they begin rolling onto their bellies!
How to Swaddle Safely
If you do choose to swaddle your baby, start as soon as they’re born and stop when they start showing signs of learning to roll. Follow our Dos and Don'ts for the safest swaddling to soothe your baby!
- Do place your baby on their back to sleep or rest and monitor them to make sure they don’t roll over.
- Do monitor your baby’s arousal state. Swaddling should soothe them to sleep, so if they remain restless there might be something uncomfortable in their swaddling.
- Never place a swaddled baby to lie on their stomach! Infants and young babies should always sleep on their backs.
- Don’t swaddle too tightly. If the swaddle doesn’t allow any movement at all, loosen it up or re-wrap it for a firm, but not completely immobilising, hold.
- Don’t leave loose blankets in your baby’s bed. These can be choking or suffocation hazards!
As long as you make sure to follow these guidelines and keep a watchful eye on your baby, there’s no reason that swaddling should affect them badly. As with all things baby, the best thing to do is observe your child and follow their cues - they’ll let you know if they’re not happy!