The art of swaddling
- Mums Tips
- Baby & Toddlers
- Published on Wednesday, 02 March 2016 12:36
- Last Updated on 02 March 2016
- Monica Costa
- 0 Comments
Why is swaddling such a popular and widely used technique? The reasoning behind this practice is to provide an enclosed environment that simulates the surroundings of the womb, helping your baby to stay calm and comfortable. A newborn baby often experiences spasms in their sleep, caused by their newly functioning startle reflex. Although this is completely natural, it can disturb a baby’s rest, and consequently the sleep of their exhausted parents. Keeping a baby’s arms and legs tucked in helps an infant to settle and sleep, so it is little wonder that swaddling has been used by new parents for so long.
Make sure your baby has enough room
The method of swaddling is most often picked up by parents during or soon after they have left the hospital with their newborn child, though if you have read a baby book or attended any baby classes, you may already have an idea of what is involved. One of the most important rules of swaddling is to make sure that you do not wrap your little one up too tight, especially their legs. This can loosen joints and damage their hip cartilage, causing hip dysplasia. You should make sure that there is enough room at the bottom of the blanket-wrap for them to bend their legs into the natural ‘frog-leg position’ that is comfortable for their hips. More information about hip dysplasia in babies is available from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, which provides detailed advice on the symptoms and treatment of the condition.
How to swaddle your baby
Before you begin, check that your baby is not hungry or wet, as you want them to be as relaxed as possible before your wrap them up. Next, follow these six easy steps for the perfect swaddle:
- Find a safe, flat surface and place your square swaddling blanket down with a corner pointing towards you.
- Fold under the top corner to create a straight edge wider than your baby’s shoulders.
- Place your baby carefully onto the blanket so their shoulders are in line with the top edge.
- Place your baby’s left arm down and pull the blanket on the same side across, tucking underneath your baby’s right-hand side. Repeat on the other side.
- Twist or fold the excess fabric at the bottom, and tuck underneath your baby.
- Make sure you leave enough room for your baby’s legs and hips to move around naturally.
Although the above method is the most common way to swaddle a baby, there are a few ways that you can accomplish a secure covering with your blanket. Baby Centre has created an instructional video that shows this method as well as another technique. Take a look for an insight into how the technique is done.
One of the easiest ways to make sure that there is enough leg room when you swaddle is to use a newborn baby sleep bag like the Gro-snug. Investing in one of these specially designed swaddles can give you the peace of mind that your baby is sleeping soundly in warm and comfortable bedding that won’t lead to them becoming cramped or overheated. Plus, it’s a lot easier to use — you just need to place your baby inside and pull up the zip.
How long should I swaddle my baby for?
Until your baby is around one month old, you can swaddle when they are awake or asleep. In the second month, you should avoid swaddling when they are awake as they will begin to move around more and the blanket can restrict their development. You can carry on wrapping them up at night and for naps, but you should stop this during month three as this is the time they begin to roll over.
With this information you should be able to carry out safe and secure swaddling with your baby. Once you have mastered the art of wrapping your little one up, you will both be able to enjoy a well-deserved night’s rest.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums