Lots of parents often ask about swaddling and many are not sure of either the best way to do it, or even why they should be doing it in the first place. Some parents have tried it previously and have many reasons why they didn’t stick to it- the baby hated to be swaddled; the swaddle never stayed put anyway; I want her arms free so she can self soothe… There are lots of reasons why many parents choose not to swaddle their newborn babies, but far greater reasons why you should! Here are just a few:
- Safer sleeping. Studies have found that newborn babies who are swaddled and placed on their backs in the crib are less likely to pull covers over the head. Swaddling also makes it harder for babies to turn over onto their fronts, thus further lessening the risk of suffocation. Once your baby can roll onto the front you must stop swaddling, but until then it can help to decrease the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- It is soothing. There is a theory about the fourth trimester, which believes that babies are actually born three months too soon. This means that the more we can replicate conditions as they were in utero, the more we are able to soothe our newborns. Being swaddled can help newborn babies to feel safe and secure and therefore they are less likely to cry and more likely to sleep better.
- It controls the startle reflex. Some babies can actually wake themselves this way and if you’ve ever witnessed it, you can see why! Being swaddled helps to control the startle, or Moro, reflex and thus further aiding better sleep. Preventing your newborn from moving her arms and legs involuntarily also helps to improve motor skills in general.
- Babies cry less when swaddled. And why wouldn’t they? They’re feeling safe, secure and soothed in their little cocoon, so why would they cry unless they need something?
- Swaddling is great for infant reflux. Babies with infant reflux respond well because the swaddle holds the body in a position that helps to prevent acid travelling back up the oesophagus. It also helps to soothe, as already discussed.