Recent reports in the press have linked the standard practice of swaddling with every parent’s nightmare – SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). But before you abandon all hope of ever getting a decent night’s rest again sans the baby burrito, read the real story behind the connection here.
The research is based on the analysis of 4 different studies on SIDS by researchers at the University of Bristol, covering findings in England, Tasmania in Australia, and Chicago, Illinois, spanning over 2 decades.
The lead author of the report, Dr Anna Pease, says that while looking into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, they also tried to gather evidence as to whether there was an association between swaddling and SIDS.
According to Dr Pease, they discovered an increased risk of SIDS for swaddled infants who were placed on their side or front for sleep, and was also found to be higher in babies who were swaddled and found on their fronts. (Hence the already well-documented link sense link between babies sleeping on their backs and a lower risk of SIDS).
The reports also found there was a higher risk for older infants who were swaddled for sleep.
Dr Pease advises: ‘We found some evidence in this review that as babies grow older, they may be more likely to move into unsafe positions while swaddled during sleep, suggesting an age is needed after which swaddling for sleep should be discouraged. Most babies start being able to roll over at about 4 to 6 months.”
Dr Pease emphasises that swaddling on the whole has not been deemed unsafe; you simply need to follow the guidelines. In short, stop as soon as your baby is showing signs of trying to roll – don’t wait until you see your baby roll before you stop swaddling, and, as the national advice goes, you should always place your baby on his or her back to go to sleep – swaddled or not.