What is a swaddle?
A swaddle is a cloth that is tightly wrapped around baby to restrict movement of the arms and legs. Swaddling is an age-old practice that goes back almost as far as human history, itself. There are many different types of swaddles available to parents now, we will discuss them in part 3 of this series.
Who should be swaddled?
Most newborns should be swaddled. Personally, I have yet to work with a baby who hasn’t responded well to being swaddled. The only time I would recommend ditching the swaddle for a newborn is if baby is constantly breaking out after all alternatives have been tried, or if baby screams and cannot be calmed by other methods. Babies often fight being swaddled at first but once calmed down, enjoy the swaddle.
When should you swaddle?
- Times of Over Stimulation- If baby is showing signs of being overstimulated use the swaddle to help bring their simulation level back down.
- Night Time and Naps- For the first month or so, it is a good idea to swaddle for both naps and night time. After 4-6 weeks you can stop swaddling during naps if you choose to do so but it’s a good idea to continue swaddling at night time until the baby is ready to stop being swaddled. We will discuss reasons to stop swaddling in part 4 of this series.
- Premature Infant- Because preemies become overstimulated so easy, it is a good idea to swaddle for much of the day, and certainly for naps and night time. Once the baby reaches their due date, you can stop swaddling so frequently. It is important to note that preemies need to be swaddled with their arms on their chest, not by their sides.
Newborns can safely be swaddled when they are placed on their backs to sleep, or in your arms.
Common reasons a parent doesn’t want to swaddle
- Baby breaks out of swaddle
- Hip development issues
- Baby fights swaddle
- Baby might become dependent on swaddle
At the end of the day, there is not much we can do when a parent doesn’t want swaddle. Our job is to assist Mom and Dad and educate them in their time of need. As a NCS, you should present the facts on swaddling, and proper swaddling techniques. Most of the time the parents will change their mind. However, if the parent is still opposed, it’s time to let it go.
Why should you swaddle?
After 9 months in the womb, babies are used to being restricted in their movement. It is said that swaddling recreates the secure and cozy feeling of the womb. In 2002, the medical journal Pediatrics published a study that explained why babies who are swaddled sleep more peacefully by preventing spontaneous movements (called reflex motion) from waking them continually during the night. The same year, the Journal of Applied Physiology wrote that swaddled infants stay in REM sleep longer than those who were not.