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Swaddling: This is how you support your little one's sleepA wrapped and peacefully sleeping baby where you can only see the head: Almost as if the stork ...

Swaddling: This is how you support your little one'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. 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. Swaddling has become a trend. 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 of wrapping your baby in a cloth. This is known to have a calming effect on your little one. 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 stage of falling asleep. In response, babies are often startled and awake 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

This is how you swaddle your baby correctly

Swaddling promotes restful sleep and helps your baby calm down. 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. Use swaddling only for your baby to fall asleep. Whether you use a special swaddling bag or a thin blanket for swaddling is up to you. Whichever version you choose: It always depends on the right technique! If you have any questions, your midwife will be happy to help you.

Swaddling made easy

The kidsroom.de swaddling instruction

Step 1: Spread the blanket out in front of you in the shape of a diamond. Then fold the top corner down to form a triangle. Place your baby in the middle of the blanket. Their head must protrude from above the blanket, while their shoulders should be below the blanket's fold.

Step 2: The right arm of your child is now placed flat against the body. Take the right part of the blanket and place it over your baby. Make sure that the arm is securely positioned under the fabric. The end of the blanket is now pushed gently under the body.

Step 3: Fold the lower part of the blanket up over your baby's feet.

Step 4: In the last step, you need to put the left arm of your child close to their body and fold the blanket over it. You then push the rest of the blanket gently under your baby's body. Done!

Important

Make sure you don't wrap the blanket too tightly around your baby's body.

Video instruction

When do I have to abstain from swaddling?

As great as the advantages of swaddling are: There are situations in which you have to do without it. If your little one has fever, you must not wrap your baby under any circumstances. The increased body temperature threatens overheating due to heat build-up. Even with congenital hip dysplasia, you have to refrain from swaddling so as not to aggravate it.

Pay attention to your child's reactions and behaviour. As often it happens, this method is not recommendable for any baby. If your child has a peaceful sleep anyway, there is no need to swaddle them. Some children even react contrary to swaddling since they don’t like to be wrapped up. If you notice that your baby cannot get used to swaddling, you shouldn't do it for the sake of your child.

When to stop with swaddling?

Swaddling is especially used for easing and is supposed to counter the Moro reflex. It is recommended that you swaddle your child only in the first few weeks of life, as the Moro reflex decreases after the second to third month. Your baby's urge to move increases with age. 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 roll over on their stomach and no longer come back from this position on their own 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 recommended for babies after the third month, are baby sleeping bags. These continue to give your little one a well-protected feeling and offers them the necessary freedom of movement.

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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