Swaddling is a way to make your baby feel safe and comfortable by wrapping the baby in a blanket. The technique is helpful when babies fuss and fidget, especially when going to sleep.
If you are going to swaddle your baby, there are a few safety recommendations you need to be aware of. Swaddling has not been shown to protect against SIDS or other infant sleep-related deaths. Remember these few safety tips to prevent the risk of injury.
Make sure the swaddling is snugly wrapped around the baby so the blanket does not loosen during the night. Remember, no loose blankets or bedding are ever allowed in the crib with your baby. If the swaddling becomes unwrapped this puts your baby at risk of suffocation.
However, the swaddle should not be so tight that the baby cannot breathe, or move his or her hips.
Make sure you are placing your baby on their back, in a crib, after being swaddled. Studies have shown swaddling your baby and placing them on their side or stomach, will double their risk of SIDS.
REMEMBER: Babies do not need to be swaddled all day, just when fussy and sleep time.
When to Stop Swaddling a Baby
In the words of our pediatrician, Dr. Eileen Tyrala, “It is critical that swaddling is discontinued once an infant approaches the time in development when he or she is capable of rolling onto the side. The standard recommendation is to stop swaddling at two months of age. If your baby is showing signs of early development and can roll to the side earlier, the swaddling must be stopped even sooner.”
To read more about what Dr. Tyrala has to say about swaddling and all things infant safe sleep, visit our Ask the Pediatrician – Frequently Asked Questions section!
When swaddling a baby always make sure you do it properly, follow the steps below:
Lay a blanket, preferably one that is meant for swaddling, in a diamond shape. Fold the top corner down to approximately the center of the blanket. Place your baby on top, with his or her neck above the top fold.
Holding your baby’s arm straight, pull the right side of blanket across your baby’s chest and slightly down (this creates the first half of the ‘V’). Tuck under left side, leaving the left arm out.
Fold bottom of the blanket over feet and tuck behind your baby’s left shoulder and tuck the rest of the edge around the infant’s arm. Make sure the blanket is not obstructing the infant’s mouth or nose.
Pull the few inches of blanket above your baby’s left shoulder down to his or her chest (this small bit forms the second half of ‘V’).
Holding this bit (from the previous step) firmly on your baby’s chest, the remaining part of the blanket should be wrapped around your baby’s chest, again making sure your baby’s nose and mouth are not obstructed.
If you are not comfortable swaddling with a regular blanket or are still confused after reading these instructions, we recommend taking a class, watching some instructional videos, and/or using Velcro swaddles.
Swaddling will help your baby sleep if he or she is extra fussy. For more information and other suggestions to calm your baby, please visit our “How to Soothe a Fussy Baby” section of our website.
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