What is Swaddling?
Swaddling is an age old art of snugly wrapping your baby in a blanket for warmth, comfort and feeling secure.
Why is Supine Swaddling Important?Supine Swaddling Reduces Risk of SIDS
- There is evidence that swaddled back sleeping infants have lower incidence of SIDS than unswaddled back sleeping infants as stated in the Journal of Pediatrics, December 2002
- When baby sleeps better on his back, parents are less likely to use the unsafe tummy position for sleep
- Swaddling helps sleeping infants remain on their backs
Swaddled Babies Sleep Better®
- A Washington University study proved that infants sleep better when swaddled
- Swaddled babies have fewer awakenings and twice as much REM sleep
- REM sleep is believed to be important for brain development
- When babies sleep better and longer, parents get more sleep, too
Reduces Colic and Fussiness
- Snug swaddling soothes babies by reminding them of being in the womb
- Swaddling helps prevent over stimulation
- Swaddling helps to contain baby's own jerky movements that can startle him or her awake
- Baby is able to self-comfort by sucking on fingers or hand if swaddled with hands near face – the normal infant has been observed post delivery to bring hands to face within 30 minutes
- Infants are inefficient at regulating their own temperature. Swaddling helps to keep infants comfortably warm when parents choose the appropriate swaddle blanket. SwaddleDesigns® offers cotton flannel Ultimate Swaddle Blankets for cooler to moderate environments and cotton open weave Marquisette Swaddling Blankets for warmer climates.
Can Help Make Breastfeeding Easier
- Baby’s extra movements are nicely contained when swaddled which can help baby focus and latch-on.
- Tuck baby’s hands into the swaddle to keep baby’s hands from impairing latch-on. Once baby has successfully latched on and is feeding well, the swaddle may be removed, so baby and mom can be tummy to tummy, skin to skin.
Is it okay to put my baby to sleep on his/her stomach?
No. Always put baby to sleep on his or her back. The back position reduces the risk of SIDS. SIDS deaths have decreased nearly 50% since the American Academy of Pediatricians 1992 recommendation that babies be placed on their backs to sleep. Tummy time is for when baby is awake. Always put a swaddled baby on his or her back for sleep. Baby should sleep on a firm flat sleep surface, in a bassinet, cradle or crib near the mother’s bed without any soft toys, pillows or loose bedding.
When do I start to swaddle my baby?
Babies can be swaddled starting on day one. Preferably mom and baby have time skin to skin directly after birth, and then you will probably see the nurses or midwife quickly and efficiently wrap your baby after you and your baby have had some bonding time. You can learn the art of swaddling, too. The 123 Swaddle® instructional tag sewn to the edge of SwaddleDesigns® swaddling blankets gives new parents an effective technique right at their fingertips and is a great reminder for experienced parents, grandparents and caregivers. Many parents tell us how helpful it is to have a SwaddleDesigns blanket with the swaddling instructions sewn on the blanket’s edge.
You may also see the nurses swaddle your baby in our Omni Swaddle Sack® with adjustable wrap. This is the newest generation in swaddling garments, and it's super easy to use. The Omni Swaddle Sack has specially shaped sleeves with foldover mitten cuffs, an adjustable wrap for newborn swaddle snugness and a 2-way zipper.
Will my baby like it?
Most babies love to be swaddled if done properly, because it reminds them of the warm coziness of being in the womb. Be sure you wrap snugly. A loose swaddle is ineffective and may be agitating to baby, so swaddle snugly, but not overly tight as to impede breathing. You should be able to slide your hand down between the baby’s chest and the front of the swaddle. Hips, knees and elbows should be in flexed, natural positions for proper joint development.
Should I wrap my baby snugly or is loose okay?
Never leave a loose blanket with an unsupervised baby. Make sure the swaddle is snug and secure.
Should I swaddle my baby with her hands up or down by her side?
Infant researchers state that it is in baby’s best interest to always have access to his or her hands so that baby may self-soothe by sucking their hands and communicate hunger to caregivers by rooting. Babies have been seen sucking their fingers in utero via ultrasounds, and newborns have a natural hand-to-mouth reflex called the Babkin reflex. The normal infant has been observed post delivery to get hands to his or her mouth within 30 minutes. Sucking is the most organizing behavior of the newborn –it helps baby with sleep/wake control, and sucking is an early form of communication – by vigorously sucking, a baby communicates that he or she is hungry. This vigorous sucking is called rooting and it is an early Baby Cue.
Even though infant researchers recommend that babies have access to their hands, it will be your decision as a parent to try different techniques and see which method –hands up or hands down- works best for you and your baby. We recommend, as a first choice, swaddling preemies and young babies in a natural position with the hands up on their chest or under their chin. Hips and knees should also be in a natural flexed position. As a second choice, you can try wrapping baby with one arm up and one arm down, alternating arms with each swaddle. A third choice, or with older or more active babies, you may wrap baby with hands down inside the swaddle near his or her tummy or sides making sure baby still has some flexion in his or her elbow joints and offer a pacifier once breastfeeding has been established, if you choose to breastfeed.
As you learn more about your baby, you will find which hand position works best for your baby.
"A baby losing control will make a real effort to master his motor disorganization by bringing his hand to his mouth. As he mouths his fist, he will regain control of himself."
Touch - The Foundation of Experience, by Kathryn E. Barnard, RN, PhD. and Dr. T. Berry Brazelton MD.
I'm afraid my baby might scratch his face. What should I do?
To prevent scratches, trim nails frequently and gently use a very fine emery board to smooth edges and corners.
Use a Gown with foldover mitten cuffs under the swaddle. The built in mitts will protect from facial scratches, and the elastic opening at foot makes it super easy to do diaper changes.
Use an Omni Swaddle Sack® with adjustable wrap and special shaped sleeves with foldover mitten cuffs.
How many hours a day should a baby be bundled?
In the womb a baby is snuggled 24 hours a day, but now baby needs some awake time to be on her tummy (tummy time), stretch and explore, get a bath, a massage and diapers changed. Most newborns are calmer if they are swaddled 12-20 hours a day, but as baby becomes older, they should spend more time out of the swaddle. A gentle supportive swaddle may continue to be used for sleep time and nap time until baby is around 2-3 months old or until baby can roll over.
Can swaddling help my baby sleep?
Yes. A study, by the University of Washington, School of Medicine, shows that swaddled babies sleep for longer periods with fewer awakenings.
What should I do if my baby gets out of the swaddle?
First, make sure you are using a large enough blanket such as SwaddleDesigns® Ultimate Swaddle Blanket®, Marquisette Swaddling Blanket® or muslin swaddle and an effective technique. Next, be sure you are wrapping snugly, smoothing the tucked under fabric beneath baby. Follow the steps on the 123 Swaddle® tag sewn to the edge of our blanket. Starting on your left, bring the first corner over the front of baby’s chest and tuck snugly behind baby’s back. The bottom corner goes over baby’s left shoulder and behind baby’s back to help keep the swaddle intact. Take the third corner across the front of baby and then all the way around behind baby, securing the last corner by tucking the tail of the blanket into the fold in front. The weight of the baby on the tucked under fabric will help to hold the bundle secure. If your baby gets his or her arms out, and is unhappy that way, you may want to try wrapping baby with hands down inside the swaddle near his or her tummy, or try wrapping with one arm up and one arm down, making sure baby still has some flexion in his or her elbow joints. Even though infant researchers recommend that babies have access to their hands (see above) it will be your decision as a parent to try different hand positions and see which method –hands up or hands down- works best for your baby. You may also wish to try our Omni Swaddle Sack® with adjustable Wrap. It's easy to use. If your baby is in the 2-3 month age range it may be time to transition baby out of the classic snug swaddle and into our Transitional Swaddle Sack®.
Can swaddling help colicky babies?
There are many theories as to what causes colic. It is not a disease. Colic means excessive crying for unexplained reason(s). Although there is no "cure" for colic, one technique doctors recommend is to swaddle baby. Dr. Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, teaches the 5 S's technique to invoke the calming reflex. He recommends that after the baby is swaddled, to roll baby to his or her right side in your arms or on your lap in the groove between your legs or lay her across you forearm on her stomach, and make long "Shhhh" sounds in baby’s ear, gently rock, sway or gently jiggle baby and allow baby to suck by offering baby your breast, finger or pacifier. Be sure to put baby to sleep on his or her back once baby settles.
What age should I stop swaddling my baby?
The age to stop swaddling varies from baby to baby. Most babies are ready to be weaned from swaddling around 2-3 months. Some prefer to continue to be swaddled for sleep time at night until they are older. Babies who are showing signs of starting to roll over should no longer be swaddled with arms restrained. As a second stage, recommend using our Transitional Swaddle Sack®.
How do I wean/transition my baby from swaddling?
We recommend swaddling baby for the first 2-3 months or until baby can roll over. To help baby transition from swaddling, swaddle baby with one arm out of the swaddle for a few nights. When baby has adjusted to this change, try swaddling with both arms out. A baby who is able to roll over should not have their arms inside a swaddle.
Use our Transitional Swaddle Sack® for easy transition/weaning from a snug swaddle. The Transitional Swaddle Sack has special shaped sleeves with mitten cuffs. When the mitten cuffs are closed the sleeves provide partial suppression of the Moro (startle) reflex, and if baby rolls over, baby can use their arms to push up.
When it’s time for baby to graduate from swaddling, SwaddleDesigns offers the zzZipMe Sack wearable blanket. SwaddleDesigns zzZipMe Sack has a clever 2-way zipper that zips from the bottom-up allowing for diaper changes while keeping baby warm and cozy, and it zips from the top-down making it easy to place baby or remove baby from the super-soft wearable blanket.
Learn more about our 3 Stages of Safe Sleepwear.
What is TOG?
TOG is an international standard for warmth and thermal effectiveness. A TOG is the unit measurement of thermal resistance and is used to estimate warmth.
TOG may be used as a general guide to help parents choose the appropriate level of warmth for their baby’s coverings for their environment.
What to wear under the zzZipMe Sack. Usually a long sleeve or short sleeve bodysuit is worn under the ZMS. In colder environments long johns or pajamas may be worn under the ZMS. In warmer environments, a short sleeve bodysuit or just a diaper.
Each baby is unique and parents should touch and feel their baby’s neck or tummy to ensure baby is not too warm or too cold. If baby is sweaty a layer should be removed. If baby feels too cool, an additional layer may be added under the ZMS.
Learn more about Temperature Awareness here.