Read more about how to swaddle or ‘wrap’ a newborn baby to keep them safe and produce the feeling of the womb’s embrace to which the baby got used…
The swaddling or better said art of swaddling is itself as old as humans themselves.
From ancient times people were using the clothes that were found around to fold the baby and make a little bundle with which it was easier to move around. They were using primitive methods learned between tribes to swaddle a baby and ensure the baby is tightened properly so they could move regularly on their commutes and finish their daily work. Nowadays there are many methods and ways to swaddle a baby and although many are similar in their basis with how to start with folding – different individuals mean different styles, therefore each parent has its own ‘easiest way’ or ‘easiest process’ of swaddling. As we have mentioned this word for several times, let’s clarify what the word swaddle means and encompasses.
In most simple terms, to swaddle means to take a baby blanket, fold it from the sides, and wrap your little one around with it, all in order to limit the baby’s movements and at the same time to soothe the baby and make them calm down. Many parents hear about swaddling from nurses in the first weeks after the baby was born because basically swaddling works best and only on newborns. Once that baby gets the ability to turn around from back to sides and have more self-contained movements it is not recommended continuing with wrapping (swaddling).
So, Why Do the Swaddling? How Does It Help Your Baby?
Swaddling is one of the easiest, most known, and most used methods of comforting babies for ages. The word ‘swaddle’ was originated in the middle-ages, explained in dictionaries as ‘to bind with strips of cloth’ and it gained extra value as a term. With the modern era, pediatrics improvements, research, and acceptance that this simple method really helps children, swaddling became an inevitable part when raising the children. Many doctors recommend swaddling for many reasons including:
- to ensure hip bone and legs’ proper development
- to calm a colic baby
- to keep babies’ hands far from the face to avoid scratching
- to protect the baby from initial startle reflexes which is common with newborns.
Besides these, swaddling guarantees that the baby will spend their nap time laying on the back which is known as the best position that assures the baby’s intestinal organs are relaxed; and that contributes to better/high-quality sleep.
To start explaining how to swaddle a baby (step by step) let’s find out more about the classification of swaddling – its types. Many separate the swaddling into a traditional and a two-in-one swaddle while other famous names include: the triangular method or so-called DUDU method.
Traditional and a two-in-one swaddle separation comes according to material usage or specific blanket usage that comes either as a whole or as two parts in which you can
leave your baby more relaxed with their arms half out.
DUDU method, which stands as an acronym for Down-Up-Down-Up, is one of the easiest methods, and pictures of it pop out first when looking through search engines. However, whichever method you decide to use it is good to know that you could practice swaddling on the doll first if you are not sure how it would go, or you can try slowly with your baby while she is full and asleep.
When Can You Start Swaddling Your Baby?
If the baby is not having any health problems, it is said that swaddling can start from the first days of their lives, while you are still in the maternity hospital. Moreover, we are indeed witnesses that babies to us come half swaddled in our first official meeting when nurses bring them in small blankets, slightly wrapped and all that we can see are their little heads.
The idea behind this practice is that so wrapped up, babies feel like they are still in the womb – safe, warm, and protected. Some doctors predict that swaddling can go till the period of six months after birth, but commonly many families do it just in the first three months, sometimes in the fourth too.
For swaddling, it is best to use a light cotton blanket that is thin, and translucent with which you will avoid extra sweating your baby, especially in the summer months. Educators and nurses who give tips on swaddling often mention that dads are more successful in this activity than moms because they fold babies a bit tighter which is required and good for babies. Moms are often more worried about whether pressure would be bearable for their little ones and thus while wrapping they keep the edge of blankets looser and they open up more easily then.
It is considered that swaddling will always work out great except for the times the baby is not changed prior to swaddling, or she was hungry for a longer period of time.
Is Swaddling Safe? Safety Tips for All the Parents!
Firmly thinking there are many positive sides and reasons for why to use this ancient method in your daily life with your baby. It is considered that swaddling decreases anxiety, the baby is nicely packed and self-soothing, and by some means that equals better sleep for the parent too. Swaddling is surely safe if done properly and some elements that parents should keep in their mind while preparing for swaddling
- Do not wrap your baby too tight so that’s she feels fully immobilized and can’t breathe properly
- It is not recommended to use double blankets, otherwise the baby would get overheated
- You should always lay your baby on your back and leave enough space around
- Stop swaddling your baby when you notice their deliberate movements are getting stronger so the baby would not remove their swaddle blanket with arms and put it over their face.
Swaddling presents a huge difference-maker, one of the proven methods with which SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is highly decreased because while the baby is safely swaddled and lays in their bed without unnecessary objects such as toys, her
movements are limited and this unfortunate type of death that is also known as ‘crib death’ can be better avoided.
American pediatrics expert, Doctor William Sears in his book Connecting Parenting warns of two possible problems that can come with the swaddling method:
- Babies who often were easily comforted and enjoyed swaddling can come to a switch point around the third month of their lives because they begin to enjoy stretching more and more with each new week around that period. So, it may be good at that point to stop swaddling.
- Even though swaddling is good for soothing a baby, I think it’s not good to leave their swaddled all night. Bending too long or too often can adversely affect the hips.
Three Safe Ways on How to Swaddle a Baby
- The Hands Up Swaddle
- The Burrito Wrap
- The Simple Swaddle
These three ways or three techniques are equally popular, and it depends just on the parent and the baby which one to embrace, to decide which one will be more convenient for them.
So, starting from the ‘hand up swaddle’ technique, it is said that it works the best during the first few weeks, while the baby’s movements are
moderate. Hands can stay a bit closer to the face, and the baby’s legs stay in the frog position.
The basic steps on how to fold a baby in this way can be listed as follows:
- Use the thin blanket or muslin and place it on a flat surface
- Take one corner of the blanket and fold up approximately half of your baby from one side (from neck to baby’s bottom)
- Tuck the baby’s left hand underneath the prime fold that you prepared and starting from that side wrap the blanket/muslin around their body
- Fold up the down part of the muslin following by tipping its corner to the upper side near the baby’s chest
- Be careful not to fold too tight – so air can circulate between baby’s legs and the baby will keep ‘frog position’
- Then tuck the baby’s right arm too under the fold that you already made and roll the blanket once again around the baby’s body until all edges are closed and you see a ‘V’ shape made of the blanket.
The burrito wrap swaddles as the second option come as a faster one with which most succinctly said – parent takes square size blanket, folds fast corners from the left and right making the diamond shape and then just tucking the corners.
And to sum up, it is noted for the simple swaddle that this technique suits better to the later months after the baby’s birth when the baby develops motor skills and needs a ‘stiffer’ wrap that will disable the hand movements. This method comes as the best solution for experienced parents and what’s most important it keeps an even bigger baby secure during sleep.
What to Pay Attention with Swaddling (the Basics of the Process)
While studying the whole process, seeing its pros and cons, types of swaddling; somehow like all generally known details have been mentioned already. Still, let’s place a final reminder on one of two items that we could have missed out. NEVER fold your baby while the baby is highly alert and wants to stretch. Baby’s primary necessities need to be satisfied in order to go on with the wrapping; thus, we can say that swaddling will never be a positive solution if the baby is very hungry, if it has not burped or looks like it needs direct closeness from the mother.
Swaddling works great only and only with a lot of daily practice and
repetition so anyone should not expect to master swaddling after doing it the first three or four times. Finally remember that swaddling is good for both the baby and you as well – since holding and embracing the baby for too long during the day can be very tiring and if once this ‘holding in arms’ becomes a customized habit with your baby, later it will be harder to get rid of the same.