If you’re on this page getting ready to read more about swaddling, let’s first address something. Congratulations! You’re here because you’ve recently become a parent or are getting ready to care for a newborn in relation. Your life is about to become much more wholesome and fun!
In this article, we aim to understand what swaddling is, why it is used as a common technique to help newborns achieve a good night’s sleep, and what process must you follow if you decide to pursue this technique for your newborn. The goal of this article is to make sure that the readers know the ins and outs of swaddling and answer all the questions that they might have.
What Is Swaddling?
Swaddling is an age-old practice that helps newborns achieve better sleep. It was said to make them feel the same way as they did in their mother’s womb. As a baby in a womb, motion was restricted. As newborns, babies take time to get used to their range of motion. This causes falling arms or sudden movements that can disrupt their own sleep. Sometimes their cries can make it more difficult for them to fall asleep. With these sudden jerks with arms and their neck, babies were prone to a disrupted sleep cycle and so were their mother’s. Hence, this practice was taken up commonly by mothers, nurses, doctors etc. to help babies with their sleep.
However, in the 17th Century, swaddling fell out of favour as people started realising that this method restricts the movement of the child completely and can cause even more issues. The method of swaddling started changing as the traditional way of swaddling was not favoured. In the past swaddling meant using a blanket to create a cocoon for your baby to sleep. This would require the blanket to tightly contain the baby, restricting any movement.
Nobody likes to be controlled that way, especially babies who are just getting used to life as we know it. Soon swaddling started being practised in better ways. Now swaddling is promoted in a way where children are wrapped comfortably in their blankets that allow a particular range of motion. Instead of using blankets, babies are now put in ‘newborn sleep sacks’ that are not tightly wrapped around their bodies. These warm sleep sacks encourage arms up swaddle. This kind of swaddling makes it possible for babies to comfortably move their arms as and when they like, especially when asleep. Sometimes restricted movement in traditional swaddling practices would wake a baby up because of discomfort. Hence, a swaddle sack that promotes arm movement is necessary. Swaddle sacks also provide a good range of motion of hips and limbs so that your baby doesn’t feel caged.
As a baby transitions from being in a womb to being out in the world, there is a lot that they need to get comfortable with. As they get used to napping, their moro/startle reflex starts to kick in. Moro reflex is when babies suddenly have jerks of motion and these movements can happen every twenty minutes when babies try to sleep. As you and your baby go through the fourth trimester, you can expect your baby to sleep for twelve to sixteen hours a day as their body develops and starts developing certain areas in the body like their brain and learning a circadian rhythm. During this sleep, if your baby is swaddled through a warm sleep sack that enables arm up swaddle, not only will your baby sleep comfortably but you yourself will be able to take some time off from your new role and responsibilities. Swaddling doesn’t just help babies with their transition, but also helps new parents transition from just adults to parents! You may not be able to enjoy your time in a swaddle blanket but can definitely take some time off under your adult blanket!
Is It Okay To Swaddle Every Baby?
Swaddling differs from baby to baby. To know the answer to this, it’s best to try it on your baby once. All babies are different and have their own likings. Even though they might not be able to convey it, you can easily get to know your child’s preference by trying two different swaddling methods. Even though the initial method of swaddling has fallen out of favour, it might just work for a few babies. Try that for a day or two and see how your baby reacts. If your baby is a deep sleeper, they will not mind being cocooned and if they do not like it, you will definitely know about it!
Your second option is to wrap them in a blanket with enough space for motion or put them in a newborn sleep sack/warm sleep sack which will allow them to move in their sleep if they need to. This method is used much more than the traditional method as stiffness of arms, limbs, and hips can be avoided. There are many companies that design swaddle bags for newborns so that they can live their transition comfortably. You can opt for different styles of warm sleep sacks depending on what range of motion your baby is comfortable with. Whatever you choose, you have to make sure that your baby is comfortable. You can do so by following these steps:
- Whether you’re using a bassinet or a cot, make sure you place your baby on their back;
- If you’re choosing a warm sleep sack with a blanket base, you do not need to use more blankets;
- Make sure that the fit is not too tight and check on the armholes especially;
- Check that the sleeping surface, cot or bassinet, is a flat surface and does not cause any issues;
- It’s best to not keep other things in the cot. Pillows, extra blankets, bumpers, etc. Avoid any toys in the cot, especially hanging above the baby since it could fall on them and potentially hurt or disrupt their sleep;
- Keep your baby’s face uncovered to ensure that their breathing is not disrupted;
- Avoid a smoking environment;
- The cot or bassinet should have a safe mattress.
Newborn Sleep Sacks Or Traditional Swaddle Wraps?
By now we know that there are two types of swaddling methods. The traditional method of swaddling involves using a cloth wrap to cocoon a baby that may result in complete restriction of motion. In some cases, this helps babies stay asleep. The second option of swaddling apparel is a newborn sleep sack which can help your baby achieve a good sleep cycle and provide optimum space for any motion that might be required. If you’re opting for the traditional swaddle, you need to be very careful about how tightly you wrap your newborn. Their ribs are tiny and are easily bendable. Their chest needs to be fairly loose in order to enable sound breathing activity.
Yes, swaddling is performed with the intention of helping your baby avoid any consequences of moro reflexes but that does not mean that you completely restrict a baby’s movements. This makes them more prone to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) since it tampers with their breathing, their shoulder and joints developments, etc. Your baby should not feel caged. Their only way to convey any sort of discomfort is to cry. So, if you notice your baby crying too much during swaddling, maybe it’s not for them. Natural movement is very very important for any individual to grow at any age, especially as a few months old.
Characteristics of the traditional swaddle wraps:
- A newborn is wrapped in the tradition swaddle wrap right after birth, when the nurse brings him in after their first bath;
- Think of this technique as wrapping your baby like a burrito;
- Usually their arms are wrapped above their chests;
- This is a difficult technique to master and it is possible that your newborn will escape this wrap so you need to be careful.
Characteristics of the newborn sleep sack:
- A blanket of sorts to keep your baby warm, a warm sleep sack;
- Allows arms up swaddle so that your baby does not feel restricted;
- Allows some movement for limbs and hips for a comfortable sleep session;
- Makes sure that your baby can breathe easily and comfortable;
- Protects your baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome;
- You do not need to use more blankets since the sacks are blanket based.
Swaddling can be a great practice to provide any newborn with great sleep potential. At the same time it is crucial to make sure that the procedure of wrapping your baby is carried out accurately. It is always a better idea to choose a newborn sleep sack instead of wrapping a baby so that the infant has range of motion as arms up swaddle is possible in a sleep sack. This article will give you a gist of what you need to know about swaddling before getting into. If you’re looking for warm sleep sacks with arms up swaddle, there are many companies that provide such apparel with different styles and designs. Rest assured, these sacks will help you keep your baby well rested.
Read also: 6 Common Baby Car Seat Mistakes to Avoid