By Jamie Hatcher, CNM~
Swaddling is a technique used across many culture for soothing, calming, and keeping baby warm. Baby lived in a tight, confined, cozy space while in the womb. Once outside the womb they have infinite space to move in, which may feel disconcerting. Furthermore, their neurological systems are still immature and easily overstimulated. They may startle at noises, touch or sometimes subtle changes in environment, also known as the Moro reflex. Often, babies will startle themselves awake with this reflex. Swaddling creates a secure, cozy environment to calm baby and also helps prevent their Moro reflex from startling them awake.
How to swaddle?
There are different techniques for swaddling, the most common being the “Diamond swaddle”, and now there are many types of specially-designed swaddle blankets on the market. Following are a couple resources as well as a step-by-step tutorial to guide your swaddling ventures!
The Diamond Swaddle:
Jamie’s Super Swaddle Tutorial:
1. Lay the swaddle blanket out in a square on a flat surface. Place baby in the center at the top with shoulders just below the edge. Tuck baby’s right arm across the chest.
2. Take the upper left corner of the blanket and pull it across the body, then wrap snugly behind baby’s back.
3. Now tuck baby’s left arm across the chest. Take the right corner of the blanket, pull across to the other side of the body and wrap snugly behind baby’s back. Both arms should now be held in place by the swaddle blanket.
4. Grasp the two bottom corners of the blanket and bring up to rest on baby’s chest below the chin. The material around baby’s feet should be loose to allow their legs to bend and move.
5. Wrap the left corner underneath and behind baby’s back. You may need to lift baby slightly or roll baby gently to the side to do this. Continue wrapping the remaining corner of the blanket around the left side of baby’s body.
6. Finally, wrap the right corner of the blanket underneath and behind baby’s back, pulling it around the left side and over across the chest. Tuck the loose end under baby or an edge of the blanket.
• Baby can be swaddled with one hand (or two) out so they can self-soothe.
• While swaddling is soothing for many newborns, not all babies will enjoy it. Don’t feel you have to force baby into a swaddle.
• Swaddling baby too tightly can cause problems with hip development, or hip dysplasia. Create “hip-healthy swaddling” by allowing room in the swaddle for baby’s legs to bend and move. Read more here: https://hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/hip-healthy-swaddling/
• The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents stop swaddling around two months, or once baby can roll over.