You are a new parent and may be wondering if you should swaddle your baby. The first question you may ask yourself is, “Why do you swaddle a baby?” The art of swaddling has been around for a long time and across many cultures. The first three months of baby’s life is considered baby’s fourth trimester. Helping to mimic that close and comfortable environment of a mother’s womb is swaddling.
As Dr. Amy and the Baby Pibu team answer – “Why do you swaddle a baby” – consider common sense throughout your journey of swaddling. Our best advice is to always remember to use common sense and consider safety and risk.
Why do babies like to be swaddled?
As swaddling helps mimic a mother’s womb, swaddling can help calm your baby and help promote sleep. Your baby’s neurological system is immature at birth, and this is one reason why your baby may startle himself out of a nice sleep. It is thought that swaddling can help reduce those startling episodes and help your baby sleep better and longer.
Is swaddling safe?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that swaddling can help calm babies and promote sleep when done correctly. There are three safety considerations to think about as you swaddle your baby: avoid loose swaddling, lay your baby on his back, and be wary of the hips. Make sure that the swaddling is tight enough to avoid the swaddling blanket from getting loose and resulting in the blanket posing a suffocation risk to your baby. If your baby is swaddled, make sure to always lay your baby on his back. Reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is done by placing your baby on his back every time you put him to sleep. If you see your baby rolling, then you should not swaddle your baby as to avoid your baby from rolling onto their tummies and increasing the risk of SIDS. Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip joint where the hip bone is not firmly set in the hip socket. Babies who are swaddled too tightly may be at risk of hip dysplasia as making your baby’s legs straight and tightly wrapping the legs can increase this risk. Your baby’s hips were meant to stay loose so do not swaddle too tightly. A final caution is to avoid any swaddling in child care.
How long do you swaddle for?
It is typically recommended to stop swaddling after your baby is two or three months old. Your baby will typically let you know when they are ready to stop being swaddled.
Dr. Amy recommends learning how to swaddle from a trusted partner, Moms On Call (MOC). Moms On Call combines the expertise of a professional with the care and concern of a mom. Founded by two pediatric nurses (and mothers to a combined 8 children), Moms On Call (MOC) started as an Atlanta-based service, offering in-home consultations to mothers for children ages birth – 4 months. Able to answer questions, model techniques such as swaddling and share expert advice, MOC has been a go-to resource for moms in the metro-Atlanta area.
As you decide whether you will swaddle and why you swaddle, take comfort in knowing that a yes or no swaddling decision will be just fine for your baby. Just use common sense, be safe, and avoid any risk.