HomeHealth A-ZSwaddling : Types, Methods, Precautions and Safety Tips For Parents

Swaddling : Types, Methods, Precautions and Safety Tips For Parents

Overview

Swaddling is the process of gently wrapping a baby in a light, breathable blanket to make them feel calm and sleepy. To avoid suffocation, they should only have their bodies wrapped, not their necks or heads. The idea of swaddling is to create the feeling of a mother’s womb – safe and comfortable.

This blog is a comprehensive understanding of swaddling, its methods, and the various safety tips parents must consider.

What is swaddling?

Swaddling is the conventional practice of wrapping a baby securely in a blanket so that only their head is peeking out while the rest of their body is comfortably snug inside the blanket. Swaddling makes the baby feel snug and secure as they are inside their mother’s womb.

What are the different types of swaddling?

Parents must begin by choosing a breathable fabric or blanket. The following are different types of swaddling:

 1. Basic swaddle:

  • For this method, parents must first place the swaddle fabric onto a flat surface, forming a diamond shape.
  • The baby must be gently placed face up on the blanket.
  • With one hand, parents should hold the baby in place, and with the other hand, bring the corner of the blanket across the baby’s body and tuck it under the baby.
  • Cover the baby’s feet by folding the bottom part of the fabric, ensuring sufficient room for the toes to wiggle comfortably.
  • The remaining fabric should be securely tucked under the baby, ensuring only the head and neck are visible.
  • Experts advise parents to leave two-finger space for the baby to feel comfortable and ensure movements of fingers, toes, knees, hands, and hips. A tight swaddle obstructs hips and knees from moving freely, causing developmental dysplasia of the hip—a condition where the hip is not formed and may lead to easy hip dislocation.
  • Checking if the swaddle is tight is vital for easy movement for the baby. 

2. Arms out swaddle:

  • In this method, parents must fold the top corner about halfway down towards the centre of the fabric. Then place the baby on the fabric with the shoulders about the folded corner.
  • With one hand, parents should hold the baby in place, and with the other hand, bring the corner of the blanket across the baby’s body and tuck it under the baby’s armpit.
  • Cover the baby’s feet by folding the bottom part of the fabric, ensuring sufficient room for the toes to wiggle comfortably.
  • The parents should securely tuck the remaining fabric under the baby’s other underarm, ensuring the head, neck, and arms are visible.
  • Parents must ensure that the blanket is not too tight to move the baby’s hips.

What are swaddle sacks?

Swaddle sacks are a great alternative when parents want to wrap their baby but are low in confidence with their swaddling skills. Swaddle sacks are typically sleeping sacks with extra fabric to quickly and easily wrap the baby’s arms.

When should parents call the doctor?

Parents must consult the baby’s doctor if they have questions about how to swaddle the baby safely.

What are the precautions to be taken?

Parents must follow the following safe and hip-friendly swaddling tips:

  • To avoid overheating, parents must consider the baby’s temperature and surroundings and dress the baby accordingly. They should also prevent swaddling the babies if they’re sick or have a fever.
  • They must use thin, breathable materials such as cotton sheets or muslin to swaddle their baby. Parents must avoid putting anything else on top of a swaddled baby. They must follow the safe sleep guidelines, which include placing their baby on a firm, flat surface that is clear of any other items.
  • To avoid suffocation, the parents should swaddle their baby up to the shoulder and ensure all the materials are secure and won’t loosen when the baby moves.
  • The parents must use hip-friendly swaddling techniques to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia, and the baby’s legs must be in a natural position, similar to a frog’s legs, instead of straight down.
  • They must always place the swaddled baby on their back and never on their front or side.

When should parents stop swaddling?

According to experts, parents should discontinue swaddling when their baby can roll. Some paediatric guidelines suggest parents stop swaddling when their baby is two months old. If parents have a baby rolling over early, they must stop swaddling sooner. 

Conclusion

While not all babies respond to swaddling in the same manner, it’s worth a try for parents if they want their baby to get good sleep. When they feel nervous, they must double-check the swaddle to look at the baby’s mouth and nose so that excess fabric does not cover them. They can check the baby’s hips and legs to ensure they’re free to move. Parents must also go through the other checklists to ensure they have followed other safe sleep practices, such as placing the baby on their back to sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the advantages of swaddling the baby?

Some parents claim that swaddling helps their babies relax quickly and sleep for an extended period. Research shows that swaddling effectively soothes crying babies. One study discovered that babies delivered early and swaddled were calmer and had improved neuromuscular development and muscle tone, reducing pain and discomfort.

2. What are the risks of swaddling the baby?

Research has indicated that early swaddling may affect breastfeeding when babies are prevented from having skin-to-skin contact during feeding. However, research is yet to discover any long-term adverse effects on breastfeeding.

Some people have questioned whether encouraging a baby to sleep more deeply at night has many advantages for them since being asleep for more extended periods gives them adequate rest .

3. Is swaddling babies safe?

Swaddling has a low risk for babies when parents follow the safe sleeping and hip-friendly swaddling guidance. The advice currently being provided is to always lay the baby down to sleep on their back and avoid front or side positions for sleep, especially if the baby is swaddled. Additionally, parents must stop swaddling their babies when they display the first signs of rolling over

4. How long can parents safely swaddle their baby?

Parents must introduce swaddling if the baby is a newborn. When the baby displays signs that they’re learning to roll over or can already roll over, parents will be required to transition the baby away from swaddling.

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