Is swaddling your baby safe?
We discuss the pros and cons of swaddling.
photos of Prince George of Cambridge, wrapped in a swaddling shawl on
his first official appearance, melted our hearts. Adorable! If swaddling
is good enough for a future King, then surely it’s good enough for the
rest of us, right?
Swaddling is an age-old technique of snugly wrapping a baby in a
blanket for warmth and security. New moms probably won’t leave the
maternity ward without a little lesson in this technique. Swaddling will
make baby feel safe and secure and less likely to be disturbed by the
little jerks he does in his sleep, known as his startle reflex. This
will help to keep baby warm and toasty for the first few days of his
life until his internal thermostat kicks in.
Swaddling creates a slight pressure around the baby’s body, which may
give him a sense of security. The sensation mirrors the pressure he
once felt in your uterus. The possible benefits include decreased
crying, increased periods of sleep, and improved temperature control.
Exactly what exhausted new moms want to hear!
But, what are the risks? The risks are generally linked to the use of
improper swaddling techniques. As one example, if swaddling layers are
excessive, babies may overheat. There is also some concern about an
increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) if, contrary to
sleeping on his back, a swaddled infant is put to sleep on his stomach,
or if a swaddled child rolls from his back to his stomach. There are
also concerns that swaddled babies face an increased risk of
developmental dysplasia of the hip.
Childcare consultant and author Rachel Waddilove, who has worked as a
maternity nurse for celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, is
passionate about the benefits of swaddling. Any sensible mother will
take precautions when swaddling her baby. Obviously you have to keep an
eye on your baby’s temperature, by feeling the base of his neck, to
avoid the risk of overheating. Babies are not being bound, and their
legs are not restricted.
Midwives fight back by asking why anyone would
wrap their baby up to the extent that it could cause developmental
problems? Remember that babies should never be put to sleep on their
stomach. Swaddling is only to be used for babies on their backs. Once
your baby is about a month old you might want to stop swaddling him
while he’s awake, as it can interfere with mobility and development in
older babies. It is fine to keep swaddling your baby for naps and
night-time if he seems to sleep better that way, but The American
Academy of Paediatrics recommend that you stop swaddling when your
baby is around 2 months old – about the time he’ll start to roll over.
So, back to our original question: Is swaddling your little bundle of
joy safe? Studies indicate that the advantages of swaddling supine
sleeping infants outweigh the risks, if any.