Swaddling Your Baby – Techniques, Benefits, Risks, Tips

If you’ve never actively taken care of a newborn, do you ever look at babies and wonder why they’re wrapped so tightly all the time? Swaddling is an age-old concept of wrapping the baby snugly in order to ensure the little one stays protected from her own jerking reflexes and feels secure and warm. 

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Babies are tiny little sensitive creatures and more often than not, their bodies jerk into reflex for no apparent reason. Swaddling protects that baby from getting disturbed during their sleep from the shock of getting jerked awake.

It isn’t mandatory for you to swaddle your baby. Whether you’d like to do it or not is a choice you have to make for your child. In this blog, we have discussed techniques, benefits, and risks of swaddling in order to help you decide whether you want to swaddle your baby or not.

Technique For Swaddling Your Baby

Swaddling a baby isn’t rocket science, but some mothers tend to get intimidated by the process. The common concerns by most women are, what if the swaddle is too tight? What if it’s too loose? Will it suffocate or choke the baby? The following pointers describe the technique of swaddling the baby safely and comfortably.

  1. Spread open your baby’s blanket or a double-folded sheet on a flat surface like a diamond. Fold the top-most corner about 6 in order to form a straight edge. 
  2. Place the baby on the sheet in a way that his back is on the sheet and he’s facing you. Make sure his head is above the sheet, which should be on his shoulder level.
  3. Straighten his left arm and fold the left side of the cover over the left arm. Bring this fold underneath the baby’s right arm. 
  4. Fold the bottom corner up and tuck it under the left fold, under the chin. Now straighten the right arm and fold the right side of the cover and tuck it under the left side. 
  5. Slightly twist or fold the bottom of the cover behind the baby’s back.
  6. Make sure the cover is loose from the hips as it will allow feet movement for the baby and keep him relaxed. As the baby grows a bit older, she will want to move her arms freely; it’s okay to leave her arms out of the swaddle if she prefers it that way.

Benefits of Swaddling the Baby:

  1. A swaddle gives the baby a womb-like feel of being wrapped up in a tiny space, which giver her time to adjust to life outside the womb.
  2. A swaddle helps the baby sleep more peacefully.
  3. It protects the baby from her own startle reflexes.
  4. It keeps the baby warm and cozy until her internal homeostasis begins functioning more maturely.

Risks of Swaddling the Baby:

Swaddling itself is not a risk to the baby’s health rather, the risk lies in incorrect swaddling techniques. The following are the most common dangers the baby may face due to swaddling.

  1. If the baby is swaddled too tightly, it can cause problems with mobility. Too much swaddling below the hip area can cause leg movement problems, i.e. hip dysplasia.
  2. Swaddling should begin from the first day of birth. If you haven’t swaddled the baby in the first few weeks, then don’t swaddle her at all. Sudden swaddling can also increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrom (SIDS).
  3. If your baby sleeps with you on your bed, then swaddling isn’t a good option as it can result in the little one getting overheated.
  4. Never leave the baby face-down after swaddling as it increases the risk of SIDS. If your baby has started to show signs of turning over, then it’s advised to stop swaddling the little one.

How to Make Swaddling Safe for the Baby?

A few tips for making swaddling safe for the baby are the following:

  1. Use a thin cotton sheet for swaddling. Thick covers or blankets present the risk of suffocation. 
  2. Make sure the baby’s legs are not tightly bound rather give them space to move and bend at the hips.
  3. Check the back and tummy of the baby with two fingers for the risk of overheating. You can also use a thermometer for the purpose. This is to minimize the risk of SIDS.
  4. Only leave your baby in the care of someone who knows how to swaddle the baby.
  5. Swaddle from birth, don’t introduce it after 2-3 months, especially considering that’s the time the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrom is at its highest.
  6. Always make sure the baby is lying on her back when swaddled, never on her tummy. If the baby reaches an age where she rolls over on her tummy, stop swaddling her.

Many mothers choose not to swaddle their babies due to a fear that it’ll cause SIDS or other serious problems. But, as discussed, the problem lies not in swaddling itself but in wrong swaddling techniques. The baby needs that wrapped-up comfort but they also need space to practice mobility and not giving them this space results in weakness.

Just begin the process right after birth and swaddle using the proper technique and you will become an expert in no time. Taking help from someone to swaddle the baby will also be of use.

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