What’s swaddling?

What’s swaddling? It is an old-time practice taught by our grandparents to wrap our newborn in a thin muslin wrap or a winged swaddle blanket to limit his limb movement. Swaddling has become more popular as a settling technique around the world and it is a proven soothing method that can reduce the risk of SIDS if you apply it properly.

What's Swaddling?

Why does the baby need to swaddle? In fact, swaddling can help to make the little one feels like he is still in the womb- feeling nice and warm. Proper swaddling promotes better and longer sleep and it is, in fact, scientifically proven that swaddling soothes a fussy and crying baby.

What’s swaddling?

Swaddling is a proven method that is able to calm the baby and promote longer and quiet sleep. All you need to have is a soft thin muslin blanket and your loving hands. Follow the below step-by-step method, not complicated but you will get more efficient with practice. You will find more than one way of wrapping your baby, but I am showing you the traditional one which is good enough.

Swaddling technique

Swaddling the babies is not only effective in soothing and calming them but makes them sleep longer and less awakening. There is no complicated technique involved, here are the step-by-step to show you how to wrap your baby securely and properly.

  1. Have a soft muslin blanket. Place your baby, face up, on the blanket and slightly off-center. Both arms down alongside the body. The baby’s shoulder is on the top of the blanket.
  2. Pull the shorter side around your baby and tuck it on his back.
  3. Get the other side of the blanket, pull it around your baby, join it with the shorter side of the blanket, under his back.
  4. If your baby’s leg curled up, let them be. Do not force them straight.
  5. Bring the bottom of the blanket over the baby and tuck it under with the rest of the blanket. Just like a baby burito!
  6. Place him sleep on his back.

After swaddling, only the baby’s head is peeking out and the rest of the body is snug inside the nice and cozy blanket.

Ensure you wrap just enough to limit their arm movement but still allow some space for their legs to move around. Just like the video shown above. It is important to note that swaddling has to be remain wrapped after the baby wakes up. If you wrap too loose, baby will eventually kicks it off. If you wrap the blanket too tight or too thick, baby will get overheated.

If you wrap too tight on the hip side, the baby will eventually have a problem with his hips. There is study to show that swaddling too tight or force their legs straight during swaddling will cause hip dysplasia – abnormality of the hip joint and may lead to joint dislocation.

Is swaddling safe?

Swaddling is safe if you follow the below guidelines. In 2014, a study was conducted to investigate a total of 36 incidents that happened in 2004-2012 involving swaddle wraps causing 10 deaths, 2 injuries, and 12 near miss incidents without injuries. This study is important to all the parents who swaddle your child, there are important lessons-to-learn to prevent these incidents from happening to your own child. Let us take a close look at what are the findings:

  1. 80% of death was due to prone sleeping position while swaddling ( sleeping on stomach)
  2. 70% has come with additional risk factor – soft bedding
  3. 2 injuries involved the tooth extraction from the zipper
  4. 12 near miss incidents have raised the concerns on strangulation involving the swaddle wrap. The wraps come loose and wrapped around the face or neck and potential choking hazard if the fastener or zipper detached.

Even though the risk of infant death is rare due to swaddling, but there is still risk involving other factors. Stop swaddling once your child has shown sign of turning.

Other than that, there is also the risk of overheating the baby and developing hip dysplasia if you do not swaddle your baby properly.

If you force your baby’s legs straight or if you wrap too tight on the baby’s hip, your child may suffer from hip dysplasia. Watch out if you wrap your baby with a thick blanket, he may also will get overheated. There is one case, a baby was heavily wrapped and lead to death due to hyperthermia

A study also was conducted to show a fourfold risk of respiratory infections due to swaddling. A tight chest wrapping has also associated with an increased risk of pneumonia.

Simple swaddling guidelines

Swaddling can prevent a baby from the risk of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome if you do it properly. A 2016 review has shown that an increased risk of infant SIDS while swaddling, for those babies who sleep on their side or stomach. Lessons learned from the previous incidents, I have summarized the important ones:

  1. Place your baby to sleep on his back
  2. Newborn shall be sleeping on his crib and not sharing bed with parents.
  3. No loose bedding, pillows or soft toys around the crib while he is sleeping.
  4. No loose wraps, may increase the risk of suffocation
  5. No detachable fastener – can cause choking hazard.
  6. Do not swaddle your baby if you put him in a sleeping bag or he starts to show signs on rolling.

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