How to Swaddle Your Newborn Baby

Hey, new mom! Have you heard about swaddling? Yes, we are talking about the perfect, soothing way to wrap your little one in a blanket (like a burrito!) Swaddling is said to be beneficial for your baby in her early months. But there’s a specific technique that is safe and provides the right results. Read on to know more about what swaddling is, the benefits of using a swaddle wrap for newborns, followed by the step-by-step guide on how to swaddle a newborn.

What Is Swaddling?

Swaddling is a simple technique that involves wrapping your little one in a light, breathable swaddle blanket - one which soothes and calms your newborn. The main purpose of swaddling your baby is to make her feel snug and secure. Think of it as a seamless way of helping your little one transition from the warmth of your belly to the outside world.

What Are The Benefits of Swaddling?

Experts are divided about whether all the reported benefits of swaddling stand up to scientific scrutiny, but many parents say that swaddling works for them. Here are some key benefits associated with swaddling a newborn,

  • Limits the startle reflex, which can wake your baby during her sound sleep

  • Helps your baby stay warm when she’s sleeping

  • Mimics the snug environment of the womb, thereby making her feel safe and secure

  • Helps to keep your baby calm, possibly even when your baby has colic

  • Comfort your baby during something that can be a little uncomfortable, like a vaccination.

Is it Safe to Swaddle Your Baby?

Swaddling is perfectly safe as long as it’s done right, but an incorrect swaddling technique could be harmful or dangerous. If you don’t stick to a few simple safety guidelines, the risks of swaddling can include:

  • Hip dysplasia:

    Excessively tight swaddling that restricts your baby’s leg movement can lead to a condition called hip dysplasia, which is when the hip joint doesn’t form properly. This is why it’s important to make sure your baby’s legs can kick freely and move into their natural ‘frog-like’ position even when your infant is swaddled.

  • Overheating:

    Babies can’t control their own body temperature as well as older children or adults. This means swaddling your baby too tightly or in thick blankets could lead to overheating. Avoid this by regularly checking that your baby is at a comfortable temperature for sleeping and removing layers if necessary. Signs that your infant may be too hot include damp sweaty skin or hair, flushed cheeks or skin that feels hot (not just warm). An overheating baby may also cry or seem restless.

Does Swaddling Prevent SIDS?

The jury is still out on this one – experts still don’t know precisely how swaddling affects the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – but keep in mind that the answer might also change as your baby gets older. In the first month or so, it’s possible that swaddling makes it harder for your baby to roll over into a face-down position. This could help your newborn stay on his or her back while asleep, which is recommended for lowering the risk of SIDS. Once your baby does learn how to roll over, however, the situation is reversed. Being swaddled – with the arms restrained – could make it harder for your infant to lift or turn his or her head should he or she roll onto his tummy. This, in turn, might increase the risk of suffocation. This is why it’s important to stop swaddling your baby as soon as your little one shows signs of learning to roll over.

How Do You Swaddle Your Baby Step by Step?

If you’ve decided to swaddle your baby, you’ll want to know the safe and proper swaddling technique. Look at this infographic and follow the instructions below for a step-by-step guide on how to swaddle your baby.

How to swaddle your baby step by step:

  1. Spread the blanket out flat – in a diamond shape – on a changing table, bed or the floor, and fold down the top corner

  2. Lay your baby face-up on the blanket, with his or her head at the folded corner

  3. Gently put your baby’s right arm down by his or her side, then wrap the right corner over your baby and tuck it underneath your infant’s left side

  4. Bring the bottom corner of the blanket up over your baby’s feet, towards the shoulders, leaving the neck and face uncovered

  5. This next step is the mirror image of step 3: Gently position your baby’s left arm by his or her side and wrap the left corner over your baby, tucking it in under the left side. Again, make sure you don’t cover the head or neck with the blanket.

  6. Check that the swaddling isn’t too tight or constricting, especially around the hips and legs. Your baby’s legs should be free to fall into their natural, frog-like position. Wrapping your baby too tightly in a swaddle can lead to hip dysplasia or dislocation.

How Long Should You Swaddle Your Newborn?

You can start to swaddle your newborn in the first couple of months. However, it’s important to note that once your baby is able to roll over, you must stop swaddling her. This may happen around the time she turns two-four months old or a little later. Remember that every child develops at her own pace. So, it’s normal for your baby to achieve this milestone a little later as well. If you have any doubts, you should reach out to your baby’s doctor and get them cleared.

Should You Swaddle Your Baby with Arms Up or Down?

Using the proper swaddling technique, your baby’s arms should be positioned straight down by his or her side, not crossed over the chest or sticking up out of the swaddling blanket.

What Kind of Swaddle Should You Use for Your Newborn Baby?

While choosing a swaddling blanket for your newborn, you need to be sure of the breathability factor. This means that your baby’s swaddle wrap should be lightweight, soft and made with a breathable material. You could use

  • A muslin swaddle

  • A lightweight baby blanket made of cotton

  • A purpose-made swaddling blanket with a hip-friendly design and special fastenings or ‘wings’

Can You Breastfeed a Swaddled Baby?

Breastfeeding your baby while swaddled is not recommended. Your infant gets quite hot while feeding, so there’s a risk of overheating if your baby is all wrapped up. Additionally, if your baby’s movement is restricted it might be harder to get into a natural breastfeeding position to ensure a good latch. It’s also worth knowing that babies who are regularly swaddled may feed less often and breastfeed less efficiently than those who aren’t. If you’re swaddling your baby and you think it may be causing difficulties with breastfeeding, it might help to stop swaddling or reduce the amount of time your baby is swaddled. Ask your doctor for advice if you’re not sure.

Is It OK Not to Swaddle Your Newborn?

Swaddling isn’t a requirement, and some experts say it isn’t even necessary or recommended. If you’re unsure about whether to swaddle your newborn or not, talk to your doctor. If you need a demonstration on how to swaddle your baby in order to make an informed decision, your doctor may be able to show you how it’s done.

The Bottom Line

Providing your little one with the perfect care and warmth is always a mom’s top priority. By swaddling, you will be able to comfort your baby and possibly promote better sleep. But keep in mind to follow the correct technique as there are some risks involved. If you are still on the fence about whether or not to swaddle your newborn then you should consult with your doctor. He can help you better by weighing the potential risks and benefits of swaddling. Once you decide to swaddle your newborn, you simply need to follow the instructions given by your doctor. Soon enough, you will be wrapping your little one into a cute little baby burrito like a pro!

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