Swaddling 101: Basics of newborn wrapping
Learn the do's and don'ts of this ancient technique of wrapping babies in blankets.
Swaddling is an ancient form of wrapping an infant to help keep them feeling safe and secure. Swaddling helps reduce an infant’s tendencies to wake up from involuntary movements during their sleep.
Swaddling clothes, of course. But what are swaddling clothes? In short, it’s nothing more than a blanket large enough to wrap securely around your baby in such a way that he/she is enveloped or swaddled. Those that work in labour and delivery in most hospitals these days call it wrapping up a baby ‘burrito style’.
To swaddle a baby correctly, you need to do the following:
- Lay the blanket out flat and turn the right top corner down approx. 6 inches.
- Lay your baby on the blanket with their neck resting on the fold.
- Take the top left corner of the blanket and wrap it around your baby; tucking it under their right arm.
- Take the bottom left corner and fold it over their feet.
- Take the right top corner and wrap it around to the baby’s back, which leaves only the head and neck exposed.
When you swaddle your baby, it is important that you leave their head and neck completely exposed to allow for proper breathing. It is also best to use only thin, cotton blankets to prevent bulk and to allow your baby’s body to breathe.
The purpose of swaddling isn’t necessarily to keep the baby warm (although it is done partially for that reason during the first few hours after birth). The purpose is to help them adjust to being outside the womb by providing a similar sensation of security. It is also important to remember that swaddling shouldn’t be done:
- Once the baby is past one month of age. By the time a baby is 4 weeks old, they begin to move more voluntarily and need to be able to do so.
- In such a way that the baby’s legs are completely straight and unable to move. Doing so will lead to hip dysplasia very quickly.
- When placing a baby on their stomach or side. Placing a baby on their stomach or side should be avoided anyway, to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- If a baby is sick or has even the slightest temperature. Swaddling naturally holds in body heat — not what you need when a baby is feverish and ill.
- Too tightly. Snug is one thing but cutting off their circulation is quite another.
Literally and figuratively, swaddling has been done for centuries so we know it definitely has a purpose and value. But like anything else, its purpose and value are only realized when done correctly and safely.
Tell us if these tips helped you in understanding the basics of wrapping your baby! We’d love to hear from you! For more on how to swaddle your baby, watch this video:
Article originally written by Darla Noble.
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