Swaddling Your Baby

Nothing comforts a baby like the warmth and security of swaddling. Swaddling has been practiced for hundreds of years and involves wrapping a child snugly in order to restrict movement, maintain body temperature and calm nerves.

Archaeological records suggest that swaddling came to be around 4000 B.C. in Central Asia – migrants used a back-pack cradle board to swaddle little ones.

The website www.babycareadvice.com gives these swaddling pros and cons:

Benefits of swaddling
1. Swaddling provides warmth
Swaddling can provide extra warmth in the first few weeks until your baby's temperature control
system is functioning effectively.
2. Swaddling provides a sense of security
Your baby has come into a world with many new and confusing sights, sounds, tastes and body
sensations. It's no wonder he feels a little overwhelmed at times. Swaddling can help your baby to calm down when he's feeling over-stimulated. (A cuddle will also help him to feel secure.)
3. Swaddling limits a baby's 'startle reflex' response
Swaddling may be useful in comforting your fussy, irritable baby who seems to keep himself awake by waving his arms and kicking his legs about. The slight pressure of swaddling keeps your baby from startling himself.
4. Swaddled babies sleep longer
Swaddling may help your baby to sleep for longer. Research at Washington University School of
Medicine in St Louis, Missouri concluded that young babies went to sleep more quickly once they were swaddled, and they were less likely to open their eyes or cry during sleep.
5. Swaddling may reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Problems associated with swaddling
1. Swaddling has been linked with hip problems
Hip dysplasia (dislocated hip) is more common in populations that practice swaddling. However, this is only a problem if a baby's legs are held in a rigid extension position when swaddled. Swaddle your baby's arms firmly but allow room for his legs to flex.
2. Swaddling may lead to over heating
Your baby may become overheated if he is covered with too many layers. In warmer weather use a cotton sheet rather than a blanket. If the weather is particularly warm, dress your baby in only a diaper before swaddling. Never cover your baby's head with anything (hat or bonnet) while he's sleeping, even in cooler months.
3. Some babies become more distressed when swaddled
Like many babies, your baby may resist swaddling initially but find the restraints of the blanket or sheet comforting once he begins to relax. On the other hand, some babies hate being swaddled and will become more distressed when swaddled. If your baby's level of distress grows after swaddling, discontinue the practice.
4. Swaddling can disrupt older babies sleep
Many older babies are great at escaping the confines of a swaddling wrap; however at the same time they want to be swaddled as they fall asleep. This may result in your sleep being disrupted as you are woken numerous times throughout the night to re-swaddle your little Houdini. Try using a larger wrap.
5. Swaddling may inhibit babies mobility and development
Swaddling your a baby, at times other than sleeping may interfere with his muscle and skill
development, by restricting his mobility. Your baby may become frustrated when he attempts to
practice his new found skills, such as rolling, sitting or standing to find that swaddling prevents him from doing this.

So how do you swaddle a baby? Here’s one technique from www.babycenter.com: 
• Lay a blanket on a flat surface and fold down the top-right corner about 6inches.
• Place your baby on his or her back with his head laying 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. If your baby prefers to have his arms free, you can swaddle him under the arms. This gives him access to his hands and fingers.

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