Swaddling Your Newborn Baby
Swaddling is perfect for newborns as it makes them feel comfortable and safe. The warm embrace of the swaddle reminds them of their mother’s womb, and it can be very effective to help them get to sleep. Wrapped babies tend to sleep longer and are not as prone to waking up as easily.
It is important, however, to be aware that when you swaddle your baby, you should always place them on their back. The little ones are at an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation, if they are placed on their stomach, with or without swaddling. If you do wrap your baby while they are sleeping, check on them regularly to ensure that they are comfortable and content. There is no need for pillows, cot bumpers or any soft toys to be in the cot with your baby as this can also increase the risk of SIDS.
While swaddling is ideal for newborns, you must resist the urge to swaddle around the 2-3 month mark (some websites recommend slightly longer). One they learn to roll onto their stomachs or sides intentionally, the swaddling needs to stop.
For swaddling to be the most efficient, ensure it is firm but not too tight. Never wrap a baby in a shared sleeping space and don’t swaddle them in a sleeping bag. One or the other will suffice.
Cotton or muslin wraps such as the ones by Aden & Anais are perfect for swaddling newborns. Do not use a blanket or bunny rug as your baby can overheat. Do not overdress your baby underneath the wrap as they are also at risk of being too hot. A nappy and singlet are perfect in summer and opt for a lightweight suit if you have a winter baby.
While your baby may fight against you initially when it comes to swaddling, they will instantly be soothed and sleep better because of it. As babies have a startle reflex up until they are about three months’ old, keeping them swaddled with their arms bound by their sides will ensure a more peaceful sleep.
If you are struggling with swaddling, try to persevere. Two or three attempts before you give up is not nearly long enough to get the hang of it. It does have fantastic results for your baby in terms of keeping them asleep for longer, and as new mums, we welcome the opportunity for some rest ourselves.
If your baby does not take to swaddling after much perseverance, then you can look at other options such as a sleep sack or sleeping bag. If you use swaddling as a signal for sleep, they will get the hang of it. You may even feel comfortable enough to keep them wrapped during the night feeds to ensure that they go back to sleep soon after. Swaddling is such a personal thing, so do what feels right for you.
Do your research and ask for help if necessary to make sure that your swaddling techniques suit both your baby and yourself. The first few months’ of your baby’s life are so precious, and the months go by very quickly. But remember, you do need as much sleep as you can get, particularly if you have other children, and swaddling might just be the thing to get you through with your sanity in tact.