Safe Swaddling Techniques

newborn-2438260_1280Let’s face it. At some point during the first few weeks of caring for a newborn baby, most parents feel willing to try almost anything to get their baby to sleep for longer stretches during the night. Swaddling often helps newborn babies feel more secure and calm, resulting in better sleep. In the hospital or birthing center, you may have learned how to swaddle your newborn baby. But did you know that swaddling incorrectly could lead to SIDS or hip problems for your wee one?

SIDS and Hip Dysplasia

Passed from generation to generation, swaddling has been performed on newborn babies for countless years. When done correctly, swaddling can help little newborns sleep longer and better, resulting in more sleep for her parents as well. However, a baby in a swaddle can sleep warmer and be harder to arouse, two risks associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If she rolls from her back to her stomach while still swaddled, that can create a potential suffocation situation.

Hip dysplasia occurs when the top of the thigh bone is not held properly in the hip socket. When a baby is swaddled too tightly around the hips or swaddled with her legs wrapped straight together rather than bent apart, it can cause hip dysplasia or dislocation. When swaddling, always make sure baby’s legs are bent up and out.

Time and Place to Swaddle

As with most things, there is an ideal time and place to swaddle your baby so that she can sleep safely. If your swaddled baby is sleeping, make sure she is always lying on her back. By the time your baby begins to roll over intentionally, you should discontinue swaddling – usually between 2-4 months of age. If you intend to take your baby to a childcare center before 3 months of age, you should request that they don’t swaddle your baby. When babies are swaddled in a setting where they are not monitored, they could roll over or become overheated during sleep, increasing the possibility of SIDS.

How to Swaddle Safely

To safely swaddle your baby:

  1. Begin by lying a light blanket or swaddling blanket flat on the floor or bed, folding one corner down.
  2. Place baby on her back on the blanket with her head above the folded corner.
  3. Making sure baby’s legs are bent up and out, fold the bottom corner of the blanket loosely up over baby’s body.
  4. With her left arm down, wrap the right side of the blanket across her body and tuck it under her right side, then wrap the left.

To ensure a safe swaddle, make sure the blanket is not too tight, especially through the hips and chest. In addition to swaddling blankets, there are many baby sleep products which resemble swaddling that may be effective for your baby.

Swaddling your baby safely is a great technique to utilize in calming your baby and helping her get the best sleep she can. It also helps prevent baby from waking herself due to the startle reflex since the swaddle will hold her arms down. As long as you swaddle your baby properly, everyone will be well on their way to catching some additional Zzz’s.

Has swaddling helped your baby sleep better? Share in the comments!


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