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Why Swaddling Promotes Better Sleep

Why Swaddling Promotes Better Sleep

This blog post was originally written for Tini Trader.

Anyone that knows me, knows that my mantra is swaddle, swaddle, swaddle!

There are good reasons for my swaddling obsession! Despite this being one of the easiest ways to soothe and settle a baby, I often hear from people that they stopped swaddling because either their baby cried when they tried doing it so they assumed they didn’t like it (more likely they were crying to tell you they were tired and needed to sleep!) or their baby was Houdini-like and they couldn’t keep them in one.

While swaddling can be a bit of an art, it’s not hard to master and I promise you, it is well worth the investment.

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Benefits of Swaddling Your Newborn Baby

Their involuntary body movements are reduced

Newborn babies are born with an immature startle reflex.

This simply means that when they are startled (say by a loud noise), their arms and legs can jerk and flail. Have you ever had that sensation when you're falling asleep and you suddenly jerk awake? This is the same process.

By swaddling their arms, these involuntary body movements are reduced and so less likely to disturb them.

Swaddling reduces the risk of SIDS

There is also evidence swaddling reduces the risk of SIDS.

Swaddling makes it harder for your baby to flip over onto their tummy and/or for them to wriggle down and cover their faces with the sheet/blanket, both of which have been linked to higher rates of SIDS in newborn babies.

What Swaddles should I use? 

I only recommend using 100% cotton muslin swaddles.

This is because this material is lightweight and more importantly, breathable. The bigger the better so always try and get the largest wraps you can as this makes it easier to contain a bigger baby.

The Aden & Anais 90cm wraps are ideal.

What about Swaddling and Hip Dysplasia?

Most reports that have associated swaddling with hip dysplasia (DDH) have shown that the problem was with the wrapping technique – that is, where the knees and hips were rigidly bound.

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute says swaddling is absolutely safe as long as your baby can flex and abduct.

Make your swaddle firm around the upper body so that it doesn’t get kicked off, but keep it loose around the hips, so that your baby’s legs fall naturally into ‘frog position'.

Things to remember with swaddling

- Always put babies down on their backs to sleep.

- Keep your babies room cool.

- Layer your baby’s clothing so they don’t overheat.

- Keep the sleeping surface free of any loose blankets or pillows.

- Always use the swaddle in accordance with the manufactures instructions.

- Leave plenty of room for baby’s knees to bend up and move around in the swaddle.

Written by Kate Johnson PH.D.

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