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What you Need to Know About Swaddling 

This practice will help baby (and you) get a better night's sleep. 


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©istockphoto.com / VYCHEGZHANINA​

 

You’ve probably seen babies bundled up like little burritos and wondered if it’s comfortable or even safe. For many newborns, being snuggly wrapped is a comforting reminder of the tight quarters they had in the womb for nine months. Being swaddled makes it hard for babies to startle themselves awake, so they’re more likely to sleep for longer stretches. And when they’re comfy, cozy and happy, everyone wins.

Beyond swaddling’s soothing benefits, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends it (as well as making sure baby is on her back) to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). As a new mom, it probably feels unnatural to wrap your baby so tightly, but trust us: you’ll both be better rested. Here, we answer your most common swaddling questions:

Isn’t Being Wrapped So Tight Uncomfortable for Baby? 

No. Swaddling keeps new baby reflexes and random movements to a minimum. It’s perfectly safe, as long as your swaddle is tight but not so snug that it interferes with her natural breathing.

Why not Use a Blanket? 

The AAP says tangled blankets can cause strangulation or suffocation.  A thin swaddling blanket adds warmth without overheating your little one. To prevent him from sweating all night, avoid putting him in too many layers before swaddling. If you think he’s overheating, feel his chest to see if he’s hot.

Can’t She Break Out of the Swaddle? 

We recommend the Miracle Blanket which makes a wrap almost no baby can bust out of, even if they’ve gotten out of others. If you’re using a thin blanket, ask a nurse to show you how to make the perfect swaddle, or watch a YouTube tutorial.

What If She Rolls Over?

If you put her on her back, a tight swaddle should keep her from rolling and getting stuck. Added bonus: Keeping baby’s arms from moving can be helpful when she’s so little and her movements are involuntary. 

Can You Make It Too Tight?  

If you swaddle too tightly around baby’s legs, it can be bad for his hip development, particularly if he’s predisposed to hip problems. It can also lead to DDH (Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip), which occurs when the top of the thigh bone is not held firmly in the socket of his hip. 

When Do I Stop Swaddling? 

You know it’s time to stop once she’s old enough to roll over. That’s when she’ll need her arms free—otherwise, she could get stuck face down. 

But What If He Won’t Sleep Without It? 

You can go cold turkey, but you don’t have to! Try easing him out of it by wrapping him with one arm out, then both arms out, swaddling just his lower half.

Libby Beer has a three-year-old son who regularly puts her multitasking skills to the test.

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