Baby swaddling is a technique that involves safely wrapping your baby in a blanket from the shoulders to the feet. It helps to promote sleep patterns and can help to comfort your baby. The practice of baby swaddling has been used for centuries and is common in many different cultures throughout the World from America to Europe and the Middle East.
Swaddling helps to promote sleep patterns in your baby by comforting the child. There is some belief that the technique can help to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. This belief comes from the conclusion that a baby wrapped in a swaddling blanket has a more stable position and finds it more difficult to turn over during sleep. Swaddling can also help to prevent sudden movements of the baby whilst asleep which can sometimes disturb the baby. The benefit to the parent is that as the baby sleeps for longer so can the parent.
When first starting to swaddle your baby it’s important to consider the time your baby may require to become used to the feeling. Don’t start with the blanket wrapped too tightly as this may make your baby feel uncomfortable and restless. Instead, try to ensure that your baby feels comfortable without been wrapped too tightly. As your baby becomes more used to the process you can gently increase the tightness. If you’re in doubt about how tight the blanket should be you should talk to your midwife, family nurse, or doctor about the process so that you don’t affect the circulation.
Once your baby is used to swaddling you can use the technique during your baby’s waking moments to settle him or her. If you’re breastfeeding then wrapping your baby in a swaddling blanket can reduce the movements during feeding and can help your baby to fall asleep if you’re trying to settle him or her.
You should try to restrict swaddling your baby to times when you’re trying to settle them. The feeling of security that a swaddling blanket can provide can teach your baby that it’s time to sleep and over swaddling can negate this. Additionally, your baby may find being restricted too much is distressing. You should also consider the temperature when swaddling your baby. In warm conditions adding the extra layer of a swaddling blanket may make your baby too warm and if so you should look at reducing some of the other layers. Finally don’t over swaddle during your baby’s awake times, apart from undoing the teaching of sleep patterns your baby will want to move around and enjoy some freedom when awake.
Some babies simply don’t like the feeling a swaddling blanket gives. In this case, you can try wrapping the blanket more loosely and even leaving the arms outside of the blanket. Once your baby becomes more used to the process you can progress onwards.
Swaddling blankets are typically used for newborn babies and infants to around four months. Sometimes you can go on for longer if you feel your baby enjoys the feeling of being swaddled. At some stage, your baby will learn to turn over and move around and at this point, a swaddling blanket becomes less useful. As your baby reaches this stage in its development you should begin to teach him or her to fall asleep without the snug feeling of the swaddle blanket.
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