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Swaddling: That’s how you support your baby’s sleepA wrapped and peacefully sleeping baby where you can only see the head: Almost as if the stork has jus...

Swaddling: That’s how you support your baby’s sleep

Swaddling: That’s how you support your baby’s sleep

A wrapped and peacefully sleeping baby where you can only see the head: Almost as if the stork has just come to bring it. If you visit new parents, you will often see this scene. Swaddling has become a trend. When asking the parents later on, you will learn that their child has been swaddled. Such a tight wrapping is to help the little ones sleep in their first weeks of life. It also said to have a calming effect. But how is it supposed to work and where does the trend of swaddling come from and what is it even exactly?

What is swaddling?

Swaddling is a technique at which you wrap your child in a cloth which, in turn, is supposed to have a calming effect. Its main aim is to provide the familiar and comfortable feeling the baby had in the uterus. Furthermore swaddling is supposed to reduce the Moro reflex (clasping reflex). This reflex is natural with children and has the effect that they stretch out their arms and legs and splay their fingers. It occurs during the falling asleep phase. The reaction to that is that the baby wakes up.
Modern swaddling is no new invention but a modification of diverse and partly very old changing methods.

Swaddling: That’s how you support your baby’s sleep

Modern swaddling is no new invention but a modification of diverse and partly very old changing methods.

These techniques were common until the 19th century. One of the main differences to the traditional techniques is that swaddling is mainly used to calm babies and to enable them to have a better sleep.

However, back then people believed that the soft body of a baby needed to be supported and formed which caused tight “constricting”. Since criticism grew considerably louder, the tradition started to disappear more and more in the 18th century from the Western cultural area.

The main thought of the old changing method which was common with a lot of primitive people was picked up again. A scientific study by L.E. Meyer and T. Erler (“Swaddling: a traditional care method rediscovered”) from 2001 proves that swaddled children enjoy a longer and calmer sleep. Besides that, waking up spontaneously is less likely through swaddling.

Advantages

  • calmer and longer sleep
  • a lot of babies come to rest faster
  • the risk of a sudden infant death sinks, because the baby cannot roll over on his/her belly

     

Risks

  • physicians caution about too tightly wrapped babies because nerves can get clamped
  • the risk of a hip dysplasia (false position of the hip joint) will be increased through swaddling
  • wrapping your baby too tight will increase the danger of excessive heat

How to swaddle your baby properly

Swaddling supports a resting sleep and helps your child to get to rest. Swaddling too long is subject to risks for damaged posture and can lead to excessive heat – one of the chief causes for a sudden infant death. Thus please only use swaddling for getting your baby to sleep. Whether you want to buy a special swaddle bag or a thin blanket: The technique is important! Your midwife will surely be happy to support you.

How to swaddle your baby properly:

The kidsroom.de swaddling instruction

Step 1: Spread the blanket in form of a diamond in front of you. Fold the swaddle into a triangle, and place baby in the center with shoulders just be-low the fold. The baby’s head needs to jut out of the blanket and the shoulders need to be below the fold.

Step 2: Place baby’s right arm alongside the body, slightly bent. Take the same side of the swaddle and pull it securely across baby’s arm and chest, tucking the fabric under the baby. Leave the left arm free.

Step 3: Fold the bottom of the swaddle up and over baby’s feet. Tuck the point of the fabric into the top of the swaddle.

Step 4: Place baby’s left arm alongside the body, slightly bent. Take the remaining swaddle, and wrap it over baby’s arm and chest, tucking the fabric under baby to secure the swaddle.

Important

Make sure to not wrap the blanket or cloth too tight around your baby.

Video instruction

When do I have to abstain from swaddling?

No matter how great the advantages of swaddling seem: There are situations in which you better abstain from it. If your baby has temperature, do swaddle him/her by no means. High temperature can cause an excessive heat through heat build-up. If your baby has an innate hip dysplasia you also have to abstain from swaddling to avoid aggravating it.

Look after the reactions of your child. As often it happens, this method is not recommendable for any baby. If your child sleeps peaceful anyway it won’t be necessary to swaddle him/her. Some children even react contrary to swaddling since they don’t like to be wrapped up. If you notice that your baby does not like it very much you should abstain from it.

When to stop with swaddling?

Swaddling is especially used for easing and is supposed to counter the Moro reflex. It is recommended to swaddle your child in the first weeks of life since the Moro reflex decreases with the second or third month. At an increasing age the need for movement grows. Your little one wants to kick and move. Swaddling would limit the necessary free space and thus impedes the development of the motor skills. However, the increased movement capabilities cause an additional risk. Your child could turn on his/her belly and not be able to turn back so that the risk of a sudden infant death will be increased, especially when you leave your baby out of sight while he/she is sleeping.
A good alternative to swaddling and for babies aged older than three months are sleeping bags. Those will further give them a feeling of security and offer the necessary moving space.

Summary

  • swaddling helps premature infants and restless children
  • supports a longer and more stable sleep
  • the known and comfortable feeling of being in the uterus will be simulated
  • counters the Moro reflex
  • swaddling can only be used to sleeping
  • the right technique needs a bit of practice
  • swaddles babies must always only lie on their back
  • older babies who are able to move by themselves should not be swaddled anymore

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