My Rambles #3: How to swaddle a baby, when to swaddle a baby and more...
What is swaddling?
The NCT describe swaddling as "the practice of wrapping babies, from the neck downwards, entirely in a cloth or thin blanket, with the aim of pacifying or calming them."
Why swaddle a baby?
Swaddling isn't for everyone, in fact medical and psychological opinion is divided. And in all honesty I didn't swaddle either of my children; mainly because my mother was adamant that I should (I'm stubborn), but also because I missed the boat with them both - I think if you decide to swaddle you need to do it immediately (no use deciding to do it a few weeks in. This is what I tried, which is why they didn't like it!). But it's very common practice and has been used by many cultures throughout history as it's thought that the feeling of being 'contained' or held within the blanket can help babies feel settled and also help them sleep. It's believed that swaddling in some way 'recreates' the feeling of being in the womb and stops the baby making its startle reflex which can cause them to wake. HOWEVER, the long-term effects of swaddling are still unknown and open to debate so if you're at all unsure, please talk to your midwife or NCT group for the latest, up-to-date advice before making a decision. I am by no means an expert - the aim of this blog post is to pull together my findings from internet research for your information and personal judgement as to what is right for you and for your baby.
How to swaddle
If you do decide to swaddle, here's a great link on the NCT website which talks about the arguments for and against swaddling with a short video showing you how to swaddle safely.
The Lullaby Trust (formerly FSID) also site the following recommendations:
- Use thin materials
- Do not swaddle above the shoulders
- Never put a swaddled baby to sleep on their front
- Do not swaddle too tight
- Check the baby's temperature to ensure they do not get too hot
As mentioned above, if you do decide to swaddle your baby it's of paramount importance that you use a thin material so that your baby doesn't overheat, and it's because of this that we called our Bamboo swaddle blankets, 'swaddle blankets'. They're large, thin, breathable and temperature regulating which makes them perfect for swaddling.
If you decide not to swaddle but like our designs, then fear not! They can also be used for so much more; Eva is now 7 months old (sob) and I use mine to line her
cot (it's large enough to cover almost the entire cot mattress and is infinitely softer than any of her cotton sheets), to line her pram or sleepyhead, to line her changing mat, as a large lightweight blanket. I also use it for feeding (as I would a normal muzy), and stuff it in the changing bag to be used as a makeshift changing mat, play mat, bib (almost anything) when out and about.When should I stop swaddling?The babysleepsite says
that "while most people use swaddling as a soothing technique during the newborn stage, and then start to phase it out around 3 or 4 months, it's not uncommon for babies to be swaddled when they are 6, 7, 8, even 9 months old."
So in short, there is no hard-and-fast answer but the average age to stop swaddling is around 3-4 months old.
"The best way to stop swaddling a baby is to do it gradually. This means starting by leaving one arm, or one leg, unswaddled at first. From there, you can gradually move to leaving both arms, or both legs, unswaddled. Eventually, you will build up to the point where you are not swaddling at all."
I hope you find this blog post useful. Please do get in touch if you have anything to add or would like to leave your comments.
Very best wishes,