You’ve probably heard it – babies shouldn’t sleep with a blanket or anything else inside their little crib. So, does that make swaddling unsafe?
We have to agree that swaddling might not be completely risk-free. But according to experts, this practice can encourage your baby to sleep better. You only have to make sure swaddling is done correctly to ensure a safe sleeping environment.
That being said, there are some precautions to consider before you start your swaddling journey:
- Baby swaddles should be appropriately tight. Swaddle blankets that are too loose may unwrap during sleep, and possibly cover the baby’s face, putting the baby at risk of suffocation. Also, baby blankets that are too tight, especially around the baby’s hips, aren’t adequate either. Tight swaddles force the baby’s legs into abnormally straight position, causing potential hip and skeleton injuries. For healthy hips, it’s recommended to loose the bottom of a swaddle enough so your baby’s legs are able to be bent up and out.
- Babies should always sleep on their backs. It’s the safest position for infants.
- Make sure your baby is cool. Swaddling can overheat the baby, which is highly dangerous as it can lead to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Resist to bundle your baby up in a bunch of clothes and instead keep the room temperature somewhere between 20 – 22 degrees Celsius.
- Swaddling during the day isn’t less risky than during the night. Don’t be afraid to use baby swaddles during the night as well, as it can put your baby into ease and promote better sleep. Do check occasionally though.
How to Choose the Right Swaddle
There are different types of baby swaddles, but the basic rule is always the same. It should restrict the baby’s movement, putting her into ease and letting her have uninterrupted sleep. However, you do need to consider the season your baby is born and the room temperature you keep in your house to make an adequate pick. Here are your options:
- Swaddle wrap. This traditional solution comes with either a muslin wrap or blanket. Muslin is an amazing choice among materials. Its silky soft touch is able to comfort babies in the best way possible, very lightweight and stretchy making it a perfect choice for summer. It’s finely woven and breathable, allowing your baby to be safely snuggled, without being too restrictive. Swaddle wraps and blankets are excellent baby swaddles as they can be additionally used as feeding shawls, cot sheets, stroller covers, bassinet throw and even a floor rug if your baby needs to stretch. You may want to choose 100% cotton that keeps its properties after numerous washes.
- Zip swaddles. These swaddles are sack-style suits with zips, which makes them easier to use, as you only need to put the baby in, as zip enables them to quickly go out. Mostly made of cotton and spandex, that gives it a nice stretch, these swaddles usually have two zips to allow easy access and fast diaper change. However, some parents don’t like the fact that they don’t wrap the baby as tight as some other swaddle options.
- Pouches. Somewhere in between a wrap and a zip suit, there are pouches that require a basic wrap technique, secured by velcro straps at the end.
- Transition swaddles are nothing more than regular swaddles, where the baby starts with both hands in, and then while growing, transits both hands out, still using this solution as a sleeper bag. Mostly made of flannelette, this choice is best used in the colder months.
How to Swaddle the Proper Way
Wrapping your baby the proper way is a technique worth mastering, as it allows the baby to sleep more soundly and give you a piece of mind ( more free time for yourself, or much needed rest!) However challenging it looks in the beginning, actually it takes only a few steps.
- Start from the flat surface. Put a swaddle blanket into a diamond shape, with one corner pointing up. Then, fold the down corner approximately 15 cm.
- Place your baby head-up on the blanket, extending her straight down to the bottom part.
- Start from the baby’s left arm. Straighten the arm and wrap the blanket over her left arm and chest. Squeeze in the blanket underneath the baby and her right arm, leaving the right arm free at this stage.
- Put the blanket over the baby’s body and tuck it under the chin. Make sure the baby’s right arm is straight, pull the blanket over, and insert it under the baby’s left side.
- Secure the blanket underneath your baby. Ensure there is space you can place two to three fingers between the baby’s chest and blanket. If your baby prefers her hands to be free, you may alter your swaddle and release it.
Not all babies will enjoy being swaddled, and that’s completely fine. If your baby acts too wiggly, give her some time to calm down and relax, and try again.
When to Stop Swaddling
While it may be a smart move for newborns, swaddling is risky for older babies. You need to quit swaddling once your baby starts rolling over, which is approximately two months after birth, but most parents stop snuggling at about 3 or 4 months.
However, as baby swaddles have various uses, don’t hesitate to invest in good one and you may be using it for years.