How Swaddling Can Help Your Baby Sleep Safely

The Lullaby trust are celebrating their annual Safer Sleep week from 11th – 17th March 2019. This amazing charity is committed to raising awareness of the risk factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and how to prevent it and we are proud to support their life saving mission.

Why not hold a coffee morning with some of your friends and raise money for the Lullaby Trust? We would love to hear about your event, please share your photos with us using #lovetodream and #safersleepweek . You can find more fundraising ideas on the Lullaby Trust website.

Our Love To Dream expert Katie Hilton, Midwife and Health Visitor, has the following advice for parents on swaddling your baby safely so that you and your baby can benefit from a peaceful nights sleep.

Why Swaddle?

When your baby is swaddled, he or she is taken to that safe secure feeling they had when in the womb. When done correctly and safely swaddling can offer a number of benefits for both parents and baby.

  • Babies who are swaddled generally sleep for longer
  • Swaddled babies experience less anxiety because they feel safe and secure
  • Swaddling prevents your baby unnecessarily waking up due to their startle reflex
  • Swaddling prevents your baby from scratching their face, often seen in newborn babies with sharp little nails
  • Swaddling takes away the need for any comfort items in their cot i.e bumpers, blankets, cuddly toys (these items have been linked to an increase risk of SIDS and the cot should be free of these items)
  • Swaddling mimics the need to touch your baby, which is important for babies who wake frequently during the night
  • Swaddling helps maintain a safe sleeping position on the back to reduce the risk of SIDS and also serves as a reminder to parents to place their baby to sleep on their back
  • Swaddling soothes babies with colic making them feel secure and safe just as in the womb
  • Swaddling your baby in the hands over heart position is the best position for babies to sleep; in this sleep position babies can learn to self-soothe themselves back to sleep
  • Swaddling of course also benefits parents – if your baby is sleeping for longer that means you are too!

Swaddling Tips for Safer Sleep

Learning to correctly swaddle your baby is key to ensuring your baby is safe and that swaddling is effective. Here are Katie’s top tips to safely swaddle your baby.

  1. Do not over-swaddle – Over-swaddling or using double swaddling can lead to overheating, which is risk factor for SIDS. Signs of an overheated baby include damp hair and sweating.
  2. Make sure the swaddle won’t unravel – A loose blanket can end up covering your baby’s airway so instead use something such as the Swaddle Up.
  3. If you choose to use the traditional swaddling method, position baby’s “hands-over-heart” – In the past, it was common to swaddle baby’s arms at his/her sides, but this can cause joint problems and limits mobility. Place baby’s hands over the chest before wrapping, or with a swaddle sack that requires no wrapping, put baby in, place baby’s hands over chest, and zip! To allow the baby to sleep in their natural sleep position, with their arms up, whilst still feeling snug and swaddled, the Swaddle UP is perfect!
  4. Don’t swaddle too tightly – Rather than a blanket, use a specially made baby swaddle such as the Swaddle Up that hugs baby comfortably but allows for natural movement of the legs/hips to prevent hip issues like hip dysplasia.
  5. Place baby on his/her back to sleep – When baby sleeps on his/her tummy he is more likely to rebreathe his own exhaled air and start to overheat, both of which can lead to SIDS. Remember: “back is best.”
  6. Stop swaddling when baby begins to roll – When your baby begins to roll, speak to your health visitor about how to continue swaddling. When it’s time to transition, an arms-free sleep sack is a wonderful tool so baby can feel snug but with their arms free, the Transitional Swaddle is perfect for this.
  7. Don’t swaddle all day – Babies need freedom to move around. Even if your little one loves being wrapped up all day, give him/her time to develop and leave the swaddling for sleep time.

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Written by

Katie Hilton
Katie Hilton graduated from Staffordshire University with an RN Dip HE in Adult Nursing. She then went on to gain her BSc Hons Midwifery. Katie worked as a Midwife in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire and Cambridge before relocating to Vancouver in Canada. Katie spent this time working as a Registered Perinatal Nurse at a busy downtown hospital splitting her time between Labour Delivery Postpartum and the Neonatal Unit. On returning to the UK Katie continued to work as a Midwife, predominately in Labour & Delivery before completing her MSc SCPHN Health Visitor at the University of Wolverhampton. Throughout her career, Katie has gained a wide myriad of experience in all areas of obstetrics, child and family health.