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All about Swaddling: From benefits to controversy

Did or do you struggle with your baby sleep? If this is the case, let’s read an old story that is all about swaddling.

If your baby was or is born in the hospital, chances are she will be swaddled at some point but not when she is given to you. Skin to skin contact is very important to establish breastfeeding and for bonding. But afterwards, each of my little princesses has been carefully swaddled by Midwives: they are masters of swaddling newborns. What is the reason behind this?

swaddles baby hospitalWhen you come back home, you just put your lovely newborn baby in her Moses basket and the nightmare starts: between colic, trapped winds, your little bundle of joy starts crying and being so unsettled. This is when you are trying to reach and explore anything that might help you with your baby sleep and yours indeed.

So sure that when you will be looking for some help to soothe your newborn, a friend, family member or Health Visitor will suggest you to swaddle your baby.  Swaddling works to help babies drift off and stay asleep. Its ability to soothe and calm babies has been known around the world for centuries. The oldest archaeological evidence of mothers swaddling their babies begins in 4000 B.C. with the migrating peoples of ancient central Asia. swaddled princessThe ancient Greeks and Romans swaddled. There are even biblical references to the practice. Eastern cultures have embraced swaddling for generations but swaddling fell out of favour in the 17th century. But now the practice is back to its glory. Even the Royal couple has been spotted with their lovely baby girls swaddled.

Why swaddling?

Simply because swaddling recreates the secure and cosy feeling of the womb which is familiar to babies. Swaddling babies prevents spontaneous movements called the moro or startle reflex from waking them and this is what allows for more peaceful night’s sleep and avoid them waking up.

This is where swaddling helps. Research has proven that by restricting motor activity and mimicking the security of a mother’s womb, swaddling comforts babies. This results in less crying, more stable heart rates and the ability to sleep through the startle {Moro} reflex.

What is the Moro reflexe? It is a natural reflexe where baby’s arms or legs jerk in response to a falling sensation. This is normal but it can cause a baby to awaken, especially if she is in a light sleep phase.

Swaddling key benefits resumed in 9 points {when done correctly and safely}:

  1. Swaddled babies sleep longer and better.
  2. Swaddled babies experience less anxiety.
  3. Swaddling prevents unnecessary wake-ups due to the Moro reflex.
  4. Swaddling eliminates the need for comfort items in baby’s bed.
  5. Swaddling prevent face-scratching.
  6. Swaddling mimics touch, which is important for baby especially when they wake up at night.
  7. Swaddling helps maintain the back sleeping position and also reminds tired parents to place baby on back to sleep.
  8. Swaddling soothes babies with colic.
  9. Swaddling benefits parents too : when baby sleeps more, we sleep more!

How to swaddle?

You can use any lightweight muslin, or swaddle blanket but as far as I am concerned , I was a bit overwhelmed by the square swaddling blankets.

How-to-Swaddle

  • Start with a square blanket. Spread the blanket out flat and fold one corner slightly inside.
  • Place the baby face up with their head above of the corner you folded inside.
  • Hold the baby in place, gently straightening their left arm, and bring the left side of the blanket over them. Tuck it between their right side and right arm.
  • Then gently straighten their right arm and bring the right side of the blanket over them, tucking it under the left side of their body.
  • Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket up, leaving enough room for baby’s legs to move around. Then gently tuck it under one side.

Snüz Designz Swaddle blanket Review

When I was managing to fold my muslin square, baby wriggle as soon as she was wrapped. This is where my Snüz Swaddle blanket becomes a must in a my mum of three’s tremendously busy life.

You just have to follow the instruction leaflet. This blanket made swaddling easy.

Snüz Designz Swaddle blanket Review

To swaddle or not to swaddle? That’s the new controversy

There was breast versus bottle. Then crib-sleeping versus co-sleeping. Now the latest infant-rearing technique to stir controversy and confuse even the most confident parents is swaddling.

As the practice gains a bigger following, however, questions about safety are prompting some hospitals to speak out against it and are causing many converts to have second thoughts.

Several studies have linked swaddling to a higher risk of respiratory infections and, if done improperly, hip dysplasia. Swaddled babies may overheat, especially if their heads are partially covered, which can cause hyperthermia and even death. There is ongoing debate over whether swaddling prevents infants from waking easily, hinders weight gain or, most troubling, increases the chance of SIDS.

There’s also a fundamental question of whether the very function of swaddling – keeping the movements of infants restricted in order to soothe – is good for babies, or is just good for parents.

The rise of the “Back to Sleep” campaign in the 1990s, which advised parents to place babies on their backs when sleeping to prevent SIDS, set the stage for the increase in swaddling. Many parents found their babies had a difficult time sleeping on their backs or would startle themselves into waking up, so they turned to swaddling.

Proven negative effect: There are several empirical studies that clearly demonstrate the negative effects of swaddling.

  1. Swaddling, especially traditional forms, increases the risk for hip dysplasia
  2. Tight swaddling, particularly where the head is covered, reduces the baby’s ability to cool its body temperature which can lead to hyperthermia  In one case, a heavily wrapped child died of hyperthermia
  3. In one study, the risk of developing respiratory infections increased fourfold by swaddling.
  4.  Swaddling in the hours after birth is linked with a delayed recovery from post-natal weight loss. Skin-to-skin contact was shown to reduce the impact of the stress of being born, with babies maintaining their body temperature to a greater degree than those swaddled in a nursery

BUT The benefits of swaddling outweigh the potential risks, you just need to learn some essential safety tips.

Safe Swaddling Tips

Learning to correctly swaddle baby is key to ensuring safety and effectiveness. Here are seven tips:

How_to_swaddle_a_baby

  1. Do not over-swaddle : it can lead to overheating which is linked to SIDS. Signs of an overheated baby include damp hair and sweating. Using a specially designed Blanket might help like the Snüz one.
  2. Make sure the swaddle won’t unravel end up: be careful not to cover your baby’s airway!
  3. Place baby’s hands over the chest before wrapping
  4. Don’t swaddle too tightly :wrap baby comfortably and make sure to allow natural movement of the legs/hips to prevent hip issues like hip dysplasia.
  5. Place baby on his/her back to sleep: “back is best.”
  6. Stop swaddling when baby begins to roll.
  7. Don’t swaddle all day : Even if your little one loves being wrapped up all day, baby need to develop so leave the swaddling for sleep time.

For us Swaddling really works so why to mess a good thing?

And you: Swaddle or not swaddle?

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