Swaddling. What’s the deal?

Swaddling.  Swaddling is the act of wrapping a newborn in a blanket or cloth firmly for the purpose of restricting movement.  Swaddling dates back for centuries and has been valued as a comfort technique for so very many generations. There is some controversy as to whether it is a positive or negative action so let’s discuss a little about it.


The benefits of swaddling are many.  Baby feels restricted and secure in much the same way as he did in the womb.  It gets pretty crowded in there!  In restricting his movement, it keeps him from startling himself with involuntary movements.  This means less crying and waking from sleep prematurely.

The University of Florida states that constricting movement through swaddling can cause overheating, so especially for those of us who live here in the Sunshine State, we need to be careful that we do not wrap baby so tight that there is a lack of air circulation.

There is some debate over whether swaddling increases or decreases the risk of SIDS.  Some say that if you swaddle a baby and then he rolls to his tummy or a caregiver lays him down to sleep on his tummy, he may not be able to free his air path from the blankets and mattress. Others say that swaddling a newborn and laying them safely to sleep, the caregiver has decreased the risk that the baby will scoot into an unsafe position against a bumper or into blankets, corners, etc.  The take-away here is that we should only be swaddling babies who are too young to roll over or be mobile.  By a couple months old, your baby has outgrown this practice.

Another concern that has recently arisen with swaddling is that of hip dysplasia. The theory is that if the baby’s legs are extended and wrapped tight, it closes the natural posture of the baby’s hips. Hip dysplasia is a long-term injury and should certainly be avoided.  By wrapping the legs more loosely than the arms, we allow for a little more movement in the legs but still reap the benefits by wrapping the upper body securely.

Wondering what to swaddle with?  Well, my favorites are a simple muslin blanket like this. I really like this brand, too.  They are so soft! I also like the Miracle Blanket.  I have had one of these for 11 years now and it still works beautifully. Really a cool design.  But it really doesn’t need to be anything special.  A basic flannel or knit blanket works just fine.

Here is a good video I found on YouTube on how to swaddle. Very sweet and simple. And if you are feeling unsure or wishing you had some extra support to keep you sane and your baby sleeping, please call Sarasota Birth Services and talk to us about Postpartum Doula Support!

*This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon.com. Your price won’t change but it helps to support our small business.



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