Swaddling, a sleep technique that practices wrapping infants tightly in a blanket, is a sleep solution many experienced parents swear by.
What came as a sort of a surprise to us is that this technique is not new. Namely, parents have been using it for thousands of years. Apparently, it has always been considered the most efficient way to soothe a baby to sleep.
Why should we consider swaddling?
A baby struggling to fall asleep can mean several things. In most cases, however, it boils down to only two – the baby is either cold or uncomfortable. In both cases, the cocoon effect of a swaddle will provide a feeling of comfort that all babies need.
Furthermore, babies often fidget in their sleep. As they’re still getting used to their bodies and the world around them, they often startle themselves awake. The snug fit of a swaddle will prevent that. Therefore, swaddling provides both babies and parents with a few extra hours of sleep.
How do we swaddle a baby?
There are two basic methods of swaddling a baby. In the remainder of this article, we will discuss them and analyze the pros and cons of both.
First and foremost, the two methods differ mainly with respect to what we will use to wrap our babies in. Before getting started, we need to decide if we want to use the traditional blanket or the more contemporary specialized swaddle wrap.
They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but the final decision will depend on our personal preference.
The Traditional Method: Swaddling with a Blanket.
Before actually wrapping a blanket snugly around our babies’ bodies, we need to make sure it’s safe for them. It’s best if the blanket is made of cotton, bamboo, muslin, or some such breathable material. We want to avoid causing discomfort to our babies by overheating their bodies.
Aside from the type of material the blanket is made of, we also need to think about its size. If we’re swaddling a newborn, a blanket that is 44×44 inches big will do. However, if we’re swaddling a bigger baby, we need a blanket that is 47×47 inches big.
How do we do it?
Before getting started, we’d like to point out that there’s more than one way to swaddle a baby with a blanket. We chose to describe the following method as it seemed easy to master. However, there’s no harm in adapting the technique if it’s necessary. The basic technique goes as follows:
1st step: We need to make sure that we place the blanket down flat so that it is in a diamond shape. Then, we should fold the upper point towards us.
2nd step: The baby should be facing up when we place it on the blanket. Furthermore, its head should be positioned above the folded edge, whereas the shoulders should be below it.
3rd step: To begin swaddling, we need to straighten our baby’s right arm. Then, we should take the blanket’s left corner and wrap it over the baby’s body. Afterward, we need to make sure that we tuck the corner safely under the baby’s left side.
4th step: Next, we need to lift the bottom point of the blanket and fold it over our baby’s legs. It shouldn’t be too tight.
5th step: Moving on, we need to straighten our baby’s left arm. Then, we need to take the blanket’s right corner and wrap it over the baby’s body. Afterward, we need to ensure that we tuck the corner safely under the baby’s bottom.
Before leaving the baby sound asleep, we need to make sure that the swaddle is neither too tight nor too loose. The baby will need some room to breathe – we need to ensure that at least two of our fingers can fit easily between the blanket and the baby’s chest. We also need to make sure that the blanket is not too tight around the hips.
The downside of the traditional method
One serious disadvantage of the traditional swaddling method is that the technique needs to be perfect in order to be effective. If the wrap is too tight, it could cause injuries to the baby. If, on the other hand, it is too loose, the baby will wiggle free. Therefore, we need to make sure that the swaddle is neither of the two.
The Easier Method: Swaddling with a Specialized Swaddle Wrap.
As you probably noticed, the traditional swaddling method requires great coordination. As some of us might struggle with that, specialized swaddle wraps come as a true blessing.
Namely, swaddling a baby with them requires virtually no practice whatsoever. All we need to do is:
- Place our baby in the wrap.
- Straighten the baby’s arms.
- Fasten the sides.
A piece of cake, right?
What’s more, specialized swaddle wraps come with additional features that will make our lives much easier. For instance, some wraps feature leg pouches that we can open, which makes overnight diaper changes much less arduous.
The downside of the easier method
We have to be honest. It didn’t come as a surprise to us that something as easy as this method comes with a catch. However, this one might not be so serious.
Namely, specialized swaddle wraps come in a limited set of sizes. The thing is, babies don’t. Babies grow, develop and wiggle differently. Therefore, there is a high chance that we will have to go through a number of swaddle wraps before we find the perfect one for our baby.
A Few Other Things to Remember When Swaddling
- Swaddling is not a risk-free sleep technique. We need to pay special attention to our baby’s body temperature and hip placement. Most importantly, we must always ensure that the baby is sleeping on its back.
- Our baby should never wear a hat while sleeping in a swaddle. It is a great suffocation risk, especially if the baby tends to wiggle while sleeping. It is a much better idea that we leave the baby to sleep in the shade or in a cool room.