What is swaddling?Published on
Today at the start of Safer Sleep Week* (13 – 19 March) we take a look at the ancient art of swaddling.
Swaddling is the practice of wrapping babies’ bodies up in a light, breathable blanket to help them feel secure – similar to being in the womb. In turn, swaddling may help little ones settle and sleep better.
This age-old method of settling newborn babies has become popular again in recent years. According to the National Childbirth Trust, one in 5 babies in the UK are swaddled in the first few weeks of life.
Midwife Natalie Jones gives her expert tips on safe swaddling.
What are the benefits of swaddling my baby?
Swaddling may help to soothe your baby and may even help them sleep longer too. This is because it stops the Moro reflex - commonly known as the startle reflex. Swaddling also helps to settle your baby as it mimics them being held or being in the womb.
How long should I swaddle my baby for?
It’s advised that you only swaddle your baby for short periods time and to completely stop swaddling when your baby begins to roll. This is usually from 2 months old.
How can I swaddle safely?
In order to prevent risks such as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) swaddling needs to be done safely. A thin sheet or Muslin cloth is advised to prevent your baby from overheating. The cloth should be no higher than the shoulders and wrapped around baby securely. Baby should not be wearing a hat when they are swaddled and if your little one appears sweaty, then the swaddle should be removed.
A swaddled baby should be placed on their back and not on their front or side. It is also advised not to swaddle your baby if you are co sleeping. Another risk associated with swaddling is hip displacia. This is when the hip bone slips out of the hip socket in the pelvis. To avoid this the cloth used for swaddling should remain loose around the baby’s legs so that they can bend their legs up. This also ensures they don’t overheat reducing the risk of SIDS.
Please note that this blog is not intended as a replace for medical advice or should not be used as step-by-step guide to swaddling. To ensure safety, please consult your midwife or health visitor if you’d like to swaddle your baby.
A great website for information on swaddling is The Lullaby trust. The Lullaby Trust raises awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), provides expert advice on safer sleep for babies and offers emotional support for bereaved families.
*Safer Sleep Week is The Lullaby Trust’s national awareness campaign targeting anyone looking after a young baby. It aims to raise awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and the simple advice that reduces the risk of it occurring.
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