Swaddling a baby has been used for centuries as a means of settling an infant by making her feel secure.
While tribal cultures and many eastern civilizations still practise this age-old technique with vigour, in the western world, swaddling seems to fall in and out of popularity. If you are asking ‘Is swaddling safe?’, we explore some of the pros and the cons of using this ancient technique.
By wrapping a baby fairly tightly in a blanket or sheet, it creates a small amount of pressure around the baby’s body, some babies feel a sense of security, similar to, many experts assert, the secure feeling of being inside the womb. For many babies, this heightened feeling of security, is an invitation for sleep.
Without having her arms hanging free, swaddling prevents a baby from making sudden movements – a common trait in many newborns – that can startle an infant and possibly wake her up, and therefore promotes a more restful night’s sleep, for both baby and parents.
Swaddling is also thought to make babies less prone to cry. According to a study conducted by the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital in 2007, which monitored the sleeping habits of almost 400 babies from birth until 3 months, those babies who were swaddled exhibited significantly less crying than those babies who were not swaddled.
It is also widely accepted within the medical world that swaddling a baby decreases the risk of accidental suffocation. This is because babies who are swaddled are unable to pull blankets or sheets over their head or crawl under bedding.
One disadvantage of swaddling an infant is that it can cause a baby to overheat. Overheating can lead to serious medical implications within babies, such a dehydration, which can be extremely dangerous in children so young.
The loss of circulation is another possible implication of swaddling a baby too tightly, which can also have grave consequences.
There has also been concern expressed in the medical profession that swaddling can make a baby at a higher risk of developing hip dysplasia.
If you are unsure about how to swaddle your baby then ask your doctor or midwife to demonstrate how to swaddle a baby correctly.