How and When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby

Swaddling is the practice of wrapping babies in a soft, large, thin blanket or cloth, that helps them fall asleep, remain asleep, and be in a supine position.

Swaddling a Baby

Swaddling a baby is one of the common practices of making the baby feel secured, asleep, and at ease. This practice has been done by many cultures for centuries. One famous incident in the history of humankind is the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger. Every December twenty fifth, the Catholic Church and Christian followers celebrate this one meaningful event of their religion, the birth of the savior. What’s the association of Jesus Christ with swaddling? According to Luke 2:6-2:7: “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Therefore, swaddling has been a practice passed by generation to generation.

Right now, we have technology and science experts researching the effects of swaddling. The old practice is being developed for us to use more effectively and efficiently. Through these scientific breakthroughs and technological advancements, we discover new ways to utilize in our day to day activities, especially in taking care of our new born. In this entry, we’ll describe what swaddling is. Its effects: risks & benefits of swaddling to babies. Why it is important to babies, when to stop swaddling babies, and how to do swaddle.

Swaddling? What is it?

This is a practice of an infant being wrapped up in a soft large thin blanket, or cloth. This helps the babies fall asleep and to remain asleep. When swaddling, the infant is in a supine position where they are lying horizontally facing up. It is an effective way of calming infants from excessive crying, making them feel safe and reducing discomfort for the baby. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “when done correctly, swaddling can be an effective technique to help calm infants and promote sleep”.

Is My Baby Safe from Swaddling?

This practice has been done for many generations but that doesn’t mean it is all effective. Due to our continuous development, our experts have conducted assessments and gathered data to use in measuring the effectivity of swaddling. Some experts think that the practice recreates that feeling of the baby being inside of the womb. But this time around, it’s all different because the baby is on the cloth, or blanket, that acts as a womb creating a stiff space for the baby, leading to some of the baby’s development problems like hip dysplasia, a condition where the child’s upper thigh bone is dislocated from the hip socket, usually evident at birth due to hormones, or the child’s first year development, because of the softness in a baby’s joints.

Another is the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), usually occurs during sleep and is associated with an infant’s breathing and arousal from sleep. Although there are still no direct cause why SIDS is happening, research indicates that it is due to the unsafe swaddling techniques done with the baby that increases these cases. “Swaddling may decrease a baby’s arousal, so it is harder for the baby to wake up, the baby sleeps longer and doesn’t wake up easily. That is why parents like swaddling so they can do other chores or rest. But we know that decreased arousal may be one of the main reasons that babies die of SIDS” according to Dr. Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, chair of the task force authored the AAP’s safe sleep recommendations.

Teach Me How to Swaddle

Swaddling is indeed easy to do, but it’s best if there is a medical expert who personally teaches you how to swaddle a baby. It is always best to keep in mind the safety and security of our little infants. These steps are the basics to understand how to do the swaddling:

  • Start Swaddling from birth: introducing swaddling later on increases the risk of SIDS, as most cases happen in the first six months and peaking at the second or third month;
  • Use a thin, light, and soft cloth, or blanket: because swaddling involves wrapping a baby, like a burrito, the use of thick, heavy and rough sheet for cover would make the infant feel uncomfortable, can’t breathe, and may incur injuries or bruises.
  • No swaddling above the baby’s shoulders and leave the head uncovered: this is to let the baby still move and breathe freely,
  • Swaddle Consistently: If in case you move forward with swaddling the baby, do it firmly not too tightly, like the legs and feet should be able to move freely, and can bend the hips. Also, do it every time the baby sleeps during day and night for the baby to familiarize the feeling.
  • Swaddling placement: The baby should be facing horizontally facing up, not on the side nor facing downwards. If there is an indication that the baby can roll over onto her side or tummy, you may now stop swaddling the baby to avoid injuries and dislocated bones.

For more practical advice, it is best to consult a pediatrician, or a medical expert in this line of medical practice, to make sure that what we’re doing is okay and proper. Remember, it is the safety of our first born that is in our hands.

Is This the Time to Stop Swaddling?

When is the best time to stop swaddling? This is the usual question that parents encounter as the first six months of the baby is very crucial to their growth, and swaddling affects them too in some medical cases. The need for swaddling lessens as the babies grow older, so it is important to monitor their development. Research say that a baby can move at around two to three months old but when a baby isn’t comfortable or can’t sleep very well the baby still needs to be swaddled. But when the baby showcases that he, or she, can do the one-arm swaddle for a week then that’s a good time to prepare the infant on a transition. Or in some cases when the baby can roll-over by himself, or herself, accidentally then that’s the time the baby can stop swaddling.

Having a baby is very fun and they teach us more about ourselves: like being more patient, being more attentive, more detailed, more caring, and decisive because at the end of the day they rely on us and their safety should always be our top priority.

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