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Is it Safe to Swaddle?

Swaddling is by no means a new-age discovery. It has been around forever, and is a way of wrapping a baby that creates a light pressure and continuous edges or touching. It is said to be the most effective way to promote sleep in infants.

New parents often learn how to swaddle their infant from the nurses in the hospital. When swaddling a baby, the blanket should be nice and snug around the infant’s body. When done correctly, swaddling can be an effective technique to help calm down an infant and keep fussiness at by.

Back to sleep

Swaddled babies are also more likely than unswaddled babies to be placed on their backs, adhering to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe-sleeping recommendations to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

Some studies have shown an increased risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation when babies are placed on their stomach to sleep, or if they roll onto their stomach.

In regards to this, a baby should not be swaddled anymore if he or she begins to roll over. If babies are swaddled, they should be placed only on their back and monitored so they don’t accidentally roll over and suffocate.

Safe and secure swaddling tips

Parents favour swaddling because it helps babies sleep longer. However, there are some safety precautions to observe to ensure that your sleeping baby is swaddled safely.

  • A swaddled baby should always be placed to sleep on the back, of course, to avoid suffocation.
  • Do not have any loose blankets in your baby’s crib. A loose blanket, including a swaddling blanket that comes unwrapped, could cover your baby’s face and increase the risk of suffocation.
  • Keep your baby’s crib free of bumper pads, soft bedding, wedges, toys, pillows and bolsters.
  • Swaddling may increase the chances of a baby’s body becoming overheated, so always check on your baby for signs such as sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, and rapid breathing.
  • Ensure that baby’s sleeping environment is well-ventilated and not stuffy.

The Moro Reflex

Have you noticed a baby getting startled while asleep, flailing their arms out wide? That’s called the “Moro” reflex or “startle reflex” and although it usually only lasts a few seconds, it’s enough to wake your sleeping baby. Swaddling your little one helps keep their arms snug, to prevent that feeling of “free falling” while asleep, which in turn can cause premature waking.

Keep Hips Loose

When swaddling your baby, avoid wrapping those little hips too tightly. Babies who are swaddled too tightly may develop a problem with their hips. Studies have found that straightening and tightly wrapping a baby’s legs can lead to hip dislocation or hip dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip joint where the top of the thigh bone is not held firmly in the socket of the hip.

How to Swaddle Correctly

  • To swaddle, spread the blanket out flat, with one corner folded down.
  • Lay the baby face-up on the blanket, with the head above the folded corner.
  • Straighten the left arm, and wrap the left corner of the blanket over baby’s body and tuck it between the right arm and the right side of the body.
  • Then tuck the right arm down, and fold the right corner of the blanket over the body and under the left side.
  • Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby.
  • Make sure baby’s hips can move and that the blanket is not too tight.

Do it right, mummy!

It’s easy to conclude that a tightly swaddled newborn is a happy, comfortable and comforted baby. However, some parents don’t realize is that while wrapping your baby with a blanket can provide comfort, it also can harm the baby if done incorrectly.

Swaddling in Child Care

Swaddling a baby has many benefits and helps to keep a baby calm. However, some child care centres may have a policy against swaddling infants in their care because of the increased risks of SIDS, suffocation or overheating which are associated with swaddled babies.

If you have to place your baby in a childcare centre, do not insist that they do things against what is norm for them, including swaddling your baby. Remember that a swaddled baby needs to be monitored more frequently in case of incidents such as rolling over, etc.

In any case, be well-aware of the capabilities of caretakers before placing your precious baby in their care.

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