When your baby is swaddled, he or she is taken back to the days in the womb, when everything was comfortable, safe and snug. Swaddling has a number of key benefits for both parents and babies – when done correctly and safely.
Swaddling Mimics The Womb
Transitioning from the womb to the world is not so simple for your new little one. Babies suddenly find themselves in a cold and bright world from what was once a warm, cozy environment. Swaddling recreates the secure and cozy feeling of the womb, making this transition from baby easier.
Swaddling Mimics A Parent’s Soothing Touch
Touch has been proven to have neurological effects; it triggers a self-soothing response in the human brain, stabilizes our heart rate and blood pressure, and lowers cortisol levels. Correspondingly, touch is fundamental for healthy infant development. A snug swaddle helps to mimic the soft pressure of a mother’s touch and helps the baby have longer, more restful sleep with fewer disturbances.
Swaddled babies tend to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep more consistently throughout the night. If the baby sleeps better, then Mom and Dad sleep better, and this is great for the whole family!
Swaddling Moderates The Moro Reflex
One of the benefits of swaddling a baby is that it helps alleviate the effects of the Moro reflex. The Moro reflex, or startle reflex, is a normal neurological response that causes a newborn to feel as though they are free falling. Babies experience this all the time within the first 3 to 4 months of life. While the presence of the Moro reflex is an indication of a healthy infant, its effects can disturb your baby’s sleep. The startle reflex causes the baby to have involuntary movements that can easily wake them up, and swaddling helps prevent those spontaneous movements, allowing for a much more peaceful sleep.
Swaddling Helps Regulate Temperature
While swaddling a baby can help maintain the optimal temperature for the baby, it is important to ensure that you are using a high-quality breathable swaddle to ensure that baby does not overheat. Avoid “double swaddling” or using a blanket that is too warm. Over-bundling with multiple layers can cause the baby to overheat which can increase the risk of SIDS.
Experts also recommend maintaining a comfortable room temperature of around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. After being swaddled, your baby’s skin should feel comfortable to touch and not too warm.
Swaddling Helps Alleviate Colic
Any parent who has experienced a baby with colic will tell you that it can be one of the most difficult parenting experiences. Some parents describe a feeling of helplessness in their inability to calm their crying baby. Colic is mainly thought to be the result of a developing digestive system, making it difficult for babies to digest food. This can cause gas and other intense pain, leading to prolonged and inconsolable crying or fussiness in an otherwise healthy baby.
One of the benefits of swaddling a baby is that it can have a wonderfully soothing and therapeutic effect on a baby suffering from colic by applying light pressure to the baby’s belly. The pressure and cocoon-like feeling mimics the womb and provides relief for the baby.
Swaddling Reduces Incidents Of SIDS
Swaddling, when done properly, is effective and safe. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that swaddling helps babies maintain the supine position during sleep (sleeping on their back). Research has also found that infants placed to sleep on their stomachs are at an increased risk of SIDS. Babies should therefore always be placed to sleep on their back, never on their stomach or side. By swaddling baby in the supine position, you help baby maintain this safe sleep position. For a baby who is not yet capable of rolling over on their own, the risk of SIDS diminishes.
You should stop swaddling when the baby begins to roll over from back to front, break free from the baby swaddle wrap, or when the swaddle becomes disruptive to sleep.
Loose blankets and bedding also pose a threat to a baby’s healthy by increasing the chances of suffocation. A baby swaddle wrap also constrains the baby’s arms and helps prevent the baby from pulling loose bedding or clothing over their heads. It is also important to keep any loose bedding or clothing out of your baby’s crib and stop swaddling when the baby starts to roll.