Advice on swaddling your newborn baby with the opportunity to purchase a range of swaddle blankets.
What is swaddling?
Swaddling is a practice that has been used to help newborn babies adjust to life outside the womb for literally thousands of years. It involves wrapping your baby in a cotton sheet and helps to keep them feeling warm, secure and comfortable. Many midwives advocate this practice and it is now often taught to new parents in hospital.
Despite being widely used in Eastern cultures, swaddling has not been particularly popular in the West during recent times. However, its popularly in the UK is now on the rise; this can be partly attributed to research that has suggested that swaddling can help to reduce the risk of SIDS in young babies. Other research has also found that swaddled babies experience deeper sleep, are less easily disturbed and wake less frequently than those simply placed under sheets or blankets.
Wrapping your baby in swaddling helps to restrict movement of their arms and legs and creates pressure against their skin. This not only helps to recreate the secure environment they enjoyed in the womb, but also helps to prevent baby from being disturbed by their own 'moro' or 'startle' reflex (where they suddenly throw their arms wide to the side).
Studies have also suggested that swaddling can help to enhance development in low birth weight babies, reduce the risk of cot death, sooth overstimulated babies and also help to reduce symptoms of colic by applying gentle pressure to their abdominal area.
For many swaddling helps to calm, soothe and comfort baby, making for a more peaceful nights sleep. However, swaddling is not for everyone and some babies do not like the restricted sensation it provides. However, it is definitely worth a try - ask your midwife or health visitor for more information or a demonstration if you are unsure of how to swaddle your baby.
How do you swaddle a newborn?
While it can look complicated, once you get the hang of it swaddling is incredibly simple. You should use a small cotton sheet or special swaddling sheet to swaddle your baby; blankets or synthetic wraps should be avoided as they can cause overheating.
- Lay the sheet down on a flat surface and fold the right corner down approximately 6 inches so that the sheet takes an almost triangular shape.
- Place your baby diagonally across the sheet so that their neck rests on the edge of the folded corner.
- Take the left corner of the sheet, place it over your baby's body and tuck it under their right side - ensure that the sheet is flat to avoid discomfort.
- Take the bottom corner and place it up over your baby's feet so that it points upwards along the legs.
- Take the right corner of the sheet, wrap it across the left hand side of your baby's body and tuck it round underneath.
- Your baby should now be swaddled securely with only their head and neck exposed.
- To ensure that your baby's swaddling is not too tight, check that you can slip your fingers down the top of the sheet.
- While you should not need to use additional sheets and blankets when your baby is wrapped in swaddling, you will need to adjust their clothing according to the temperature of the room in which they will be sleeping.
When your baby reaches approximately one month of age you should consider changing to a baby sleeping bag so as to avoid restricting their development. Alternatively if your baby finds it difficult to settle without swaddling, you could try wrapping them from the chest down so that your baby's arms and hands are free to move around.