Do you remember receiving your newborn like a gift package, all wrapped and fuzzy? The art of wrapping infants in a specific way so that they sleep better and remain calm is called swaddling. Swaddling may look like your little one is restricted too tight. However, experts believe that swaddling makes a baby feel like being back in the womb and is calming and comfortable.
The origin of swaddling
The practice of swaddling dates back to the Old Stone Age (Paleolithic period) and researchers have found buried sacred offerings (artifacts) that depict structures of small swaddled babies.
(Credits - Martin Dürrschnabel - https://commons.wikimedia.org/)
(Credits - Wikimedia Commons)
Ancient Indians, especially those in the regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan have practiced the local version of swaddling for decades together, wrapping the babies snugly in a soft cotton cloth (usually in the sarees of mothers and grandmothers).
In the early 1990s, the American Government started advising parents to put their babies on their backs to prevent the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It was then that swaddling became a very popular practice in the United States and other countries globally.
The benefits of swaddling
- Safety – Swaddling a newborn helps the baby feel secure after coming out of the womb
- Sleep – Swaddling helps prevent the startle reflex that wakes a baby due to sudden noises or movement and shocks them. If your baby has been waking up multiple times during a nap and crying, it could be because of the startle reflex.
- Comfort – Swaddling instantly brings a sense of comfort and closeness to the baby and helps the little one relax.
- Warmness – If your little one was born in winter, there is no better way than swaddling the baby. Swaddling snugly helps the baby stay warm.
- Helps Colicky babies – Colic is a condition that causes some babies to get restless, cry more, and get cranky. Colic lasts for about 3-6 months after the baby is born. Studies prove swaddling brings a calming response in babies.
- Self-soothing – Swaddling helps babies self-soothe and this prevents the need for the parents to constantly be around the baby to calm the little one.
- Brings down the risk of SIDS – SIDS is more common in infants who sleep on their stomachs and those infants placed in a cot with loose bedding. By gently restricting the movement of the limbs by swaddling and placing the child on the back, the risk of SIDS comes down.
- Helps the parents relax – Are you always on your toes trying to hold your startled baby and putting him/her back to sleep? Swaddling can ensure you relax too, helping you bond better with the baby every day.
Is swaddling my baby safe?
When done the right way, swaddling is definitely safe and can be a beneficial part of calming your baby and helping him/her sleep better. Swaddling makes the baby more comfortable and relaxed.
How to safely swaddle your infant?
- Check if the swaddling is well-tucked and won’t unravel – You will be surprised but babies have such strength when they want to do something. If you don’t swaddle the baby right, the swaddle cloth can unravel and pose a risk by covering up the nostrils and
- Use the right swaddles – Swaddle clothes are usually thin, soft, and single-layered. This is to prevent overheating the babies. Do not pick up random thick fabrics for swaddling.
- Don’t swaddle too tight – You want to keep the baby cozy but not at the cost of preventing any kind of movement. After you swaddle, the baby should be able to slightly move the hips and legs to stay comfortable.
- Do not restrict the hands to the sides – Putting the hands of the babies on the sides and swaddling can completely restrict mobility and cause discomfort. Place the hands over the chest and swaddle. This is a very comfortable position.
- Do not keep the baby swaddled all day – Yes, swaddling is good but you cannot restrict the baby from moving around the whole day. Swaddle when the baby is taking a nap or when the little one needs calming down. The rest of the time, leave the baby to explore the surroundings.
When to stop swaddling?
Pediatricians usually advise the parents to stop swaddling once the baby starts rolling over. This could be anywhere between 3-6 months. You can stop swaddling at this time. The swaddling cloth can then be used as a blanket, towels, a feeding cover, a comfort blanket, or even as a bed cover.
Swaddling should be something your baby enjoys. It should bring a sense of calmness and comfort to your little one. After you swaddle the baby, do watch out for signs of distress or discomfort. If you find the baby uncomfortable in any way, quickly loosen the swaddle.
It may take a few attempts for you to create the perfect swaddle that is both cozy and comfortable. It may help if you watched your nurse swaddle your baby at the hospital. Feel free to carry a swaddle to your next pediatrician’s visit and ask one of the nurses to show you the technique if you are not too sure about it. There are a lot of YouTube videos that show you different swaddling techniques too.
Swaddling is an age-old practice that has come back and become popular due to its immense benefits. Obviously, swaddling the babies the right way is the key to go about using this technique to sooth your baby. You can watch a lot of YouTube videos on how this is done.For more details on how to procure 100% organic cotton swaddle or wraparound cloths, do visit our website Nature’s Cuddle