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Intro 

For millennia mothers have been swaddling their babies and for many these days, it’s the norm - especially for newborns. Often recommended by midwives, doulas, paediatricians, swaddling provides comfort for our little ones from day one as it mimics the closeness and security of the womb, where they were accustomed to having their arms and knees tucked in close. 

When done safely and correctly this cocooning creates a feeling of snugness and safety that can reduce crying and fussiness and help babies to fall asleep and slumber for longer… the holy grail of new motherhood.

 

Should I swaddle my baby?

The truth is that it doesn’t work for everyone, so you’ll have to have to work out what’s best for you and your baby. While some babies love to be swaddled, others may fuss at being confined. 

As well as providing security and comfort, swaddling can further promote good sleep by preventing the startle reflex - also known as the Moro reflex - from waking them by keeping their arms bound up. It also prevents babies from scratching themselves in their sleep.

As they grow our babies tend to like to stretch and move more in their sleep so will generally outgrow the swaddle before six months.


Tips on swaddling safely

  • If you choose to swaddle, start from birth - do not introduce at 2-3 months when your baby is used to sleeping without and the risk ofSIDS is highest.
  • Be consistent - swaddle both at night and for daytime naps so that your baby becomes accustomed to the feeling.
  • Make sure the swaddle is firm but not too tight -  to allow for some mobility and reduce the risk of hip dysplasia, make sure that you give your baby plenty of room to move legs and feet, especially room to bend her legs up and out at the hips. 
  • Allow for plenty of non-swaddle time in the day.
  • Leave your baby’s head uncovered and don’t swaddle above the shoulders.
  • Never place your swaddled baby on their front or side to sleep
  • Always use a weather-appropriate swaddle blanket to prevent overheating
  • Make sure to check your baby’s temperature regularly by placing two fingers on the back of the neck or tummy. Overheating may increase the risk of SIDS. 
  • If you leave your baby in the care of anyone else, make sure they know how to swaddle safely.
  • Swaddling is not recommended for co-sleeping babies as they would have no way or moving bed covers from their face and are less able to alert parents if they get too close.

When should I stop swaddling my baby?

Generally swaddling works best and benefits you baby for at least the first 3-4 months - sometimes referred to as the ‘4th trimester’. You should stop when they start to move more freely and certainly when they are showing signs that they are able to roll by themselves.

To allow for safe movement while also creating a feeling of snugness you can switch to sleep sacks [links].


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