Swaddling your baby
These first few weeks in the wide-open world can be unsettling for your newborn, who's recently emerged from the closeness of the womb. Swaddling, or wrapping your baby snugly in a blanket, can help him feel secure as he adjusts to his new environment.
Swaddling is the art of snugly wrapping your baby in a blanket for warmth and security. It can also keep him from being disturbed by his own startle reflex, and it may even help him stay warm and toasty for the first few days of life until his internal thermostat kicks in. Most important, it's a method that can help a baby get calmer.
Nowadays, you probably won't leave the hospital without a little lesson in this technique. Try it, after you've made sure your baby isn't hungry, wet, or tired. It can be used to help settle your baby down when he's overstimulated or when he just needs to feel something close to the tightness and security of the womb. Once your baby is about a month old you might want to stop swaddling him while he's awake as it may interfere with mobility and development in older babies. It's fine to keep swaddling your baby while sleeping if he seems to sleep better that way; he'll let you know by crying or kicking when he no longer wants to be bundled up.
Reasons to Swaddle
- If your baby is having trouble sleeping because he's easily startled or his own muscle movements wake him up.
- If your baby seems uncomfortable for no apparent reason.
- If your baby seems distressed by the free movement of his arms and legs.
Tips to Remember
- Swaddling is only effective for the first few weeks after birth. After one month, swaddling, which inhibits movement, can restrict your baby's motor development.
- Don't swaddle a baby in an especially warm room because overheating is a SIDS risk factor.
- If your baby doesn't enjoy being swaddled, it's OK. Remember to take your cues from your baby-he'll let you know what he likes best.
- Holding your baby in a sling-type carrier is another way to help your child feel safe and secure. You can experiment with the sling to find the positions that are most comfortable for both of you.
Let's Start To Swaddle
• Lay a blanket on a flat surface and fold down the top-right corner about 6 inches.
• Place your baby on his back with his head on the fold.
• Pull the corner near your baby's left hand across his body, and tuck the leading edge under his back on the right side under the arm.
• Pull the bottom corner up under your baby's chin.
• Bring the loose corner over your baby's right arm and tuck it under the back on his left side. Some babies prefer to have their arms free, so you may prefer to swaddle your child under the arms so he has access to his hands and fingers.
Step by Step
1. Fold one corner of your blanket down. (A receiving blanket works well.) Place your baby in the middle of the fold with his head above the edge.
2. Pull the left side of the blanket snugly across your baby's chest, making sure his right arm is wrapped close to his body. Then lift your baby's left arm and securely tuck the blanket under his body.
3. Bring the bottom of the blanket up and either fold the edge back or tuck it into the first swathe. Then pull the last corner of the blanket across your baby's chest, securing his left arm near his body.
4. Tuck the blanket under your baby's back as far as it will go. Keep your baby snugly wrapped as you pick him up.
TIP: Don't be alarmed if your baby wiggles his arms out while he sleeps. Some babies don't like having their arms confined. Try keeping his arms outside the blanket while you wrap it. Your baby might prefer this more natural position.