To Swaddle Or Not To Swaddle?
Lately, I feel like swaddling has been a buzz topic in the "new baby" world because some folks have learned they shouldn’t swaddle their baby. I have been getting questions from friends, family and clients about swaddling. Should we swaddle our baby, is it safe, how do we swaddle, does swaddling help babies sleep, and so on. So here I am, pulling out my computer to write down what I know as a certified sleep consultant and what I recommend, including what the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends, and what product I like the most.
What is swaddling? If you are already a parent, then you know what swaddling is and most likely you swaddled or tried to swaddle your baby only to end up with a Houdini baby that broke out of it at 3 AM crying to be swaddled again. Swaddling is simply wrapping your baby to mimic the secure feeling they experienced while in utero.
Is swaddling safe? Recently the AAP updated their safe sleeping recommendation which says that swaddling is recommended ONLY when baby sleeps on the back, and it should be stopped as soon as babies can roll over. This is important parents – if there is one thing you take away from this article it’s to PLEASE stop swaddling once your baby can roll. This can prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) which we are all familiar with due to the amazing SIDS campaigns and education we are exposed to when pregnant.
In fact, just this past September I saw my little one (only 4 months old, 3 months corrected) had rolled to his side while he was sleeping. I am fortunate enough to have a fancy, video monitor so I can watch his every move while in his crib. The moment that I saw him roll over, I took the swaddle away immediately. The last thing I wanted to worry about at night was for him to roll over and not be able to roll back over on his back. Luckily, I was prepared for this to happen...so what did I do? I used a transitional swaddle with one arm out for a couple days, then the second arm and VOILA he was transitioned to sleep swaddle-free, or like I like to say, he is now sleeping like a normal human and not wrapped up in a cocoon.
Additionally, I had lots of talks with my pediatrician about swaddling – she recommended it until he was mobile and she said for sleep, "Back is Best".This is a campaign that AAP has been promoting for years now. So yes, swaddling is safe, but talk to your pediatrician if you have questions or doubts.
How to choose from the "Sea of Swaddles?" There are so many swaddles available that it’s so hard to choose. When I became I first time parent with my twins 9 years ago, I recall only one swaddle brand other than the traditional swaddle blankets. When I brought my new baby home in May of 2017, he had an opinion—he didn’t like the feeling of his arms being close to his body like traditional swaddling. In fact, he cried and grunted while trying to get his arms free. I recall singing Jingle Bell Rock to him to calm him down (the only song I could think of in which I remembered the words), however, as soon as I stopped singing the crying continued. So we tried to take the swaddle away – that was a disaster...he cried but this time he was flailing his arms too. So the next day I was on a mission to find the perfect swaddle.
After purchasing at least 4 different swaddles, only to find he didn’t like any of them, and I was just throwing money down the drain, I decided to do more research. That’s when I found it – the LOVE TO DREAM™ Swaddle UP.
At first sight I thought "this looks interesting", but I was willing to give it a try once I read up on the benefits such as how it was designed to promote a more natural way for babies to sleep (with arms up) while helping to keep the startle, or moro, reflex under control. This reflex is present in babies until at least three months of age, and I had my new baby home for three weeks at this point, so I had a long way to go to help him feel comfort.
I quickly clicked purchase, and 2 days later Amazon delivered the trendy looking swaddle in great packaging. I’m in marketing – so I appreciate good packaging.
I tried the LOVE TO DREAM™ Swaddle UP that night. And guess what, no cries – not even a peep. I thought this is too good to be true; however, it wasn’t. Finally, I had a swaddle that gave my baby a secure feeling, he could not Houdini out of the swaddle, it kept him warm, it zippered so it was a cinch to use for diaper changes and since it wasn’t as snug as some of the other swaddles on the market it was "hip-healthy". Better yet, they have a transitional swaddle (stage 2) so they thought ahead for me so I could transition my baby easily from the original swaddle to the 50/50. BRILLIANT! And that’s what I used for transitioning as well.
Well, should I swaddle or not? Absolutely! Swaddle away until baby starts to roll. Just make sure you choose the right swaddle that makes your baby happy, and safe. Swaddling helps baby stay warm, helps control moro reflex, and makes them feel secure which ultimately leads to longer sleep stretches. Lastly, be sure to always place baby on his or her back and follow the other recommendations that the AAP gives on safe sleep. You can learn more about safe sleep and download a FREE brochure available on my website https://www.pediatricsleepcoach.com.