Swaddling essentially means tightly wrapping up or bundling the baby in a receiving blanket. Since the baby is protected and cocooned in the mother’s womb, swaddling him perhaps gives him the same warmth and comfort.
Swaddling essentially reduces crying and allows the baby to sleep peacefully. It is also said to reduce the incidence of SIDS. The baby however should be allowed to sleep on his back and should not be over heated. As babies are happier on their backs, swaddling reduces discomfort and subsequent crying. There are some steps to swaddle an infant.
Steps To Swaddle An Infant
Spread a receiving blanket on a flat surface with one of the corners folded down. Place the baby diagonally on the receiving blanket in such a way that his head is in line with the sharp corner of one of the folds.
Take the corner on the baby’s left arm and bring it across to his right arm, tightly wrapping him. Lift his right arm and tuck the edge underneath his body on the right side. Some swaddling blankets have Velcro tags. In that case no tucking is needed. Lift the bottom corner and bring it up over the baby’s body tucking it into the first swathe.
Lift the last corner and bring it up across the baby’s right arm and tuck it in one of the swathes right behind the baby. The baby is now nicely swaddled. These are more or less universal swaddling techniques.
Advantages Of Swaddle An Infant
Hospital nurses and doctors are experts at swaddling. Often the new born baby is nicely swaddled in a blanket before he is given to you. When babies are swaddled, there are less jerky movements as their limbs are restricted. They lead to lesser sleep interruptions and lesser tears.
The feeling of warmth and security that babies get in a blanket mimics the warm, cosy environment of the womb allowing the babies to sleep for longer durations. Since new born movements are quick and jerky, there may be a likelihood of the infant scratching himself as he sleeps. That’s because babies have very sharp, pointed nails which grow vey fast.
Swaddling the baby continues till he is up to 3-4 months of age. Once babies become more mobile and are able to roll over on their sides then the use of the blanket becomes restricted as they kick it off. While the benefits of swaddling far outweigh its disadvantages, studies have shown that babies who are swaddled tightly may show the signs of reduced respiratory functions thus leading to pneumonia.
Some other researchers say that since the baby’s joints are still growing, it is prudent to swaddle the baby only during nap times and allow the baby unrestricted movement of arms and legs at other times. This promotes adequate limb growth.
The effects of swaddling vary from baby to baby. Some babies who have an independent streak in them may detest being swaddled and you may often find them kicking off their blankets. If they get distressed, it is wise to discontinue the practice.