What’s the Big Deal About Swaddling?
Swaddling is an ancient practice that dates back to biblical times and is woven into the fabric of communal customs in multiple religions (wimple, anyone?).
When I was a new mom, I was totally confused about swaddling.
All I knew was that I absolutely could not do it (where do you tuck that end of the blanket?) and that babies who were swaddled looked so peaceful and… beautiful.
If you’re equally confused, here’s the breakdown.
What is Swaddling?
It’s baby talk for wrapping your baby up so that her arms are snugly contained and her legs and hips have room to move.
Why Do It?
It helps babies sleep better.
How Does Swaddling Help Babies Sleep?
There are two reasons for this:
1. Swaddling inhibits the moro reflex that all babies are born with.
Ever see a newborn smack himself in the face? Or flail his arms wildy seemingly out of nowhere? That’s the moro reflex- the baby feels like he’s falling and in an attempt to save himself, starts flailing his arms. More often than not, the baby ends up hitting himself in the face and waking himself up. Swaddling your baby nice and tight stops this reflex from occurring, ensuring that your baby will sleep for a longer period of time than he would have with his arms free.
2. Swaddling reminds your baby of the position she was in for 9 months in your womb.
In your womb, there was no room to move. Your baby was squished. Wrapping her up nice and tight can bring her back to that primordial beginning, where all her needs were met around the clock. That feeling of safety and security can go a long way towards better sleep.
What You Need to Know About Swaddles
- Don’t use a regular swaddling blanket. Active babies often bust out of these, and they can ride up over your baby’s face, causing a suffocation risk. Try a pre-made Velcro or zippered swaddle like the sleepea, woombie or the ollie swaddle. These will stay secure and keep your baby safe – and as a bonus, they show you where to place all the folds of fabric that can seem so confusing!
- When you first put your baby in a swaddle, she won’t like it. Consider yourself warned! You can learn why that is and how to make that process go more smoothly over here.
- Never swaddle a baby that can roll over. A baby that ends up face down in a swaddle is at risk of suffocation. When your baby starts rolling over, it’s time to wean her off the swaddle.
There’s your basics on swaddling 101. That’s a wrap. #sorrynotsorry