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Swaddling 101

Swaddling is an ancient technique of putting your baby to bed by wrapping him or her snug in a lightweight blanket.  The main idea behind swaddling is to help comfort a newborn baby.  Swaddling improves bonding and can provide a sense of security for your baby, promote sleep and assist when babies feel overstimulated. It has been proven to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Studies have shown that babies who sleep swaddled on their backs have about 33 percent less chance of SIDS.

Typically, you use a lightweight cotton or muslin blanket or an adjustable swaddle sleep sack.  This is to prevent your baby’s arms from moving too much while leaving room for the legs to bend.  The soothing pressure of the blankie mirrors the pressure they felt in the womb and can encourage him/her to fall asleep, calm them and make them feel safe and secure.

Swaddling can be a smart move for newborns. Most people swaddle their babies from birth and start to shift it out of the bedtime routine when they turn three or four months old. But please note it can It can be dangerous for older babies who can break free from their blankets.  You’ll want to quit once your little one becomes more active and starts to try to roll over.

How to Swaddle your little one:

Think of swaddling a baby like wrapping up a very cute and precious burrito — it needs to be secure or it won’t work! Swaddling can be intimidating at first – but you will get the hang of it. You’ll see what works and what doesn’t for your baby as you get more practice.

  1. Spread the blanket out flat, with one corner folded down.
  2. Lay the baby face-up on the blanket, with your baby’s head above the folded corner.
  3. Straighten the baby’s left arm, and wrap the left corner of the blanket over their body and tuck it between their right arm and the right side of his/her body.
  4. Then tuck the right arm down, and fold the right corner of the blanket over his/her body and under her left side.
  5. Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby.
  6. Make sure your baby’s hips can move and that the blanket is not too tight. “You want to be able to get at least two or three fingers between the baby’s chest and the swaddle

Pay attention to these key points below!

  • Keep your baby’s legs loose. Babies swaddled too tightly in the hip and leg area cause can develop issues with their hips that may even lead to hip dysplasia and it causes discomfort too. Make sure his/her hips and legs can move and bend to promote hip-healthy swaddling.
  • Leave enough room between the chest and blanket. Leaving the space of two fingers between baby’s chest and the blanket ensures he will have enough room to breathe.
  • Use a light & breathable blanket or muslin. Using a light blanket will prevent your baby from getting overheated while being swaddled, allowing him baby to rest comfortably.
  • Consider a sleeping bag or swaddle sack. A sleeping bag or swaddle sack are often adjustable and can make it easy to leave room for the chest and hips. Some of them even have zippers at the bottom to make diaper changes a breeze! View swaddle sacks here.
  • Don’t swaddle too loosely. If the blanket comes undone, it can become a hazard that may prevent your baby from breathing properly.
  • Monitor your baby and check for overheating and don’t use a thick and heavy blanket. If you notice your baby is warm to the touch, has flushed cheeks or a rapid heartbeat, cool your baby down as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t cover your baby’s face while swaddled to avoid overheating and suffocation.  
  • Place your baby on her back when swaddled and when she are sleeping to reducing the risk of SIDS.

Every baby is unique and different.  Some babies will never need never need swaddling, and others will want it for weeks or even months. Stop swaddling when your baby is able to fall asleep without being wrapped snug or starts to roll over.

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