Lots of people ask me “why should I swaddle my baby?” Swaddling your baby is a great way to help them feel calm and safe, which comes in particularly useful during the first few months after birth but is also helpful in the development of an effective sleep routine in the longer term.
For newborn babies, swaddling provides a similar safe feeling of being in the womb during pregnancy. Newborns also have a reflex known as the Moro or Startle Reflex which sticks around for roughly 6 months after birth, although you will see improvements from 6 weeks onwards.
This reflex, whilst annoying, shows your little one’s nervous system is developing well. But it can be extremely frustrating during sleep as the sudden startle can often wake your baby. There are also a number of other answers to the question “why should I swaddle my baby?” and my top 5 reasons to swaddle are…
1. Reduce SIDS
A research study featured in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2007 identified the positive results associated with swaddling and a reduction in the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This is believed to be due to the inability of a baby to cover their head or face with blankets or bedding when swaddled.
Swaddling also keeps your baby sleeping on their back and prevents the ability to roll onto their stomach. Both of which are associated with a higher rate of SIDS. Remember to always put your baby to sleep on their back, never their stomach and never swaddle a baby and then put them to sleep on their stomach.
Swaddling your baby is a great technique to use to help with calming and soothing your baby and works well when combined with other calming techniques including white noise and motion. When you first swaddle your baby, they may initially appear frustrated, which makes some parents feel their baby doesn’t like swaddling but stick with it. As you combine it with other calming measures and little one becomes used to being swaddled, it will become an invaluable part of both bedtime, naptime and even just when your baby needs comforting and calming.
3. Neuromuscular Development
Many parent’s think that a newborn baby needs to have their hands free so that they can practice using their arms and figure out how to move their hands into their mouths, so they can self-soothe by sucking on fingers. However, most of the movement newborn baby makes is actually unintentional and random and serves no purpose. Immobilizing their arms when swaddling actually helps them to develop better motor skill organization and neuromuscular development.
4. Less Crying
We all know that babies cry, sometimes more than others and over time you’ll find your own ways to help calm your crying baby. However, in addition to other soothing techniques, swaddling has been shown to help reduce crying by 28%.
5. Better Sleep
Babies sleep better and for longer if you put them down at bedtime or naptime when swaddled. Swaddling will help prevent that startle reflex and prevent your baby from waking themselves up. Whilst babies are well-known for taking lots of short naps, swaddling helps to promote longer continuous periods of sleep.
The older, traditional style of swaddling with a muslin or blanket can be difficult to master and little ones tend to find it easy to unravel themselves. To make life easier use something such as the Love To Dream™ Swaddle UP™, a unique swaddle which your baby can be zipped into. It features an arms up design to replicate your baby’s natural sleep position and helps them to feel secure, self soothe and to calm the startle reflex.