Swaddling Your Baby

Why, When, How To Swaddle And When To Stop

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swaddling your baby
Swaddling your baby - does that seem weird to you?

It sure did to me before I had my first child. I thought swaddling a baby was something that parents did back in the 18th century or so. And, of course they did, but to some extent for other reasons.

The truth is; many newborn babies love being swaddled! Want to know why that is and how to do it? Another common question is when and how to stop swaddling when the time comes. You get tips on that too here. So read on.





Swaddling Your Baby



Why swaddling

Swaddling a baby today, is not to prevent crocked legs (completely unnecessary for that) but to make your baby feel calm and safe.

During their first one or two months of living babies go through a huge adaptation from life inside to outside the womb.

Think of it, in there it was dark, warm and narrow. In the "real" world, it is light, much colder and airy. Scary!! In addition, babies haven't yet learned how to control their limbs (or even realizing that the things flying back and forth in front of their eye are actually their hands...). Therefore many babies can be quite disturbed, especially when trying to fall asleep, by their flaying limbs. Swaddled, your baby may feel calmer and safer.

When to swaddle a baby

Swaddling your baby is the most appropriate for really young infants, may be during their first and second month of living. After that, they may just be frustrated by their immobility. You'll notice by your baby's reactions if he likes it or not.

For a really newborn baby, you can swaddle him both when awake and for sleep. At six weeks old or so, you should release at least one arm, so that the baby can put the hand in his mouth for self-soothing if he chooses to. Also at this point in time, or may be even earlier, at around 1 month old, you should stop swaddling your baby while awake. It is time to start practicing mobility and strength - not easy while being swaddled!

For naps and night sleep, you can swaddle the baby (except for at least one arm when older than six weeks) for as long as the baby likes it. Some babies won't settle without a nice swaddle even when approaching their first birthday!

How to do it

How to swaddle your baby:

  • Put a soft cotton blanket on a flat surface and fold down the top corner a little bit.
  • Put the baby on the middle of the blanket, with his head on the fold.
  • Wrap the right part of the blanket over the baby and tug it under his back beneath his left arm.
  • Then take the left corner and wrap it over your baby and tuck it under his back on his right side.
  • If you want one or both of your baby's arms to be free, just swaddle him the same way, but under the arm(s).
  • Don't swaddle your baby too tightly; it's supposed to be cozy.

If this sounds difficult, there is now a brand new super cute swaddler on the market; the Woombie Baby Cocoon Swaddle. If using it, you don't need to learn how to swaddle the old-fashioned way. Just put your baby in and zip it. Really brilliant!

Here is video clip showing how to swaddle a baby if you want to try it out:

How and when to stop swaddling

While there are no specific reasons you have to stop swaddling your baby, many parents experience that by the time their infants start learning how to roll over; the swaddling becomes quite hard on the nerves. One thing you don't want is your baby to roll over from back to belly, swaddled and face down...

While I don't think there are any know cases of sudden infant death syndrome (sids) due to swaddling, the though is still quite scary. An easy way to prevent this is to start swaddling your baby with his hands free rather early. Also wrap him up quite loosely.

This way, as your baby starts to become more mobile you can gradually loosen the swaddling even more, and when it suits you, you can stop the swaddling all together.

Just as with any other routine, babies can get very used to swaddling to be able to go asleep, and thinking a head a bit to alter the routine slowly is really the best way to minimize problems. For some babies, transiting from a swaddle to a sleep bag, such as Halo or Grobag is easier than to just a pajama and may be a blanket. (It's safer than a blanket too.)

Good luck and sweet dreams!



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