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swaddling your newborn baby: how to swaddle your newborn baby safely

2 minutes

04/11/2019

At WaterWipes we want to help you feel as confident as possible with your little one so below we've outlined how to swaddle your newborn and why you should do it.

  • 1. What is swaddling?

  • 2. Why do we swaddle babies?

  • 3. The benefits of swaddling a newborn baby

  • 4. How to swaddle a newborn baby safely

  • 5. When to start swaddling your baby

  • 6. When to stop swaddling your baby

  • 7. Is swaddling safe?

1. What is swaddling?

The Lullaby Trust in the UK says swaddling is a common practice used to help settle young babies and promote sleep. We recognise that in some parts of the world this is also referred to as wrapping, but in the UK is referred to as swaddling.

Wrapping a newborn baby up in a blanket so just their head is peeking out of the top, is called swaddling. A brilliant word to say, yes, but also a very useful concept, as it’s said to help babies sleep.

2. Why do we swaddle babies?

Most adults know the feeling of dropping off to sleep then suddenly jolting awake – well babies have this too (the startle reflex) but at a much more acute level and often wake themselves up with their flailing limbs. Swaddling a newborn is said to help prevent this as it keeps their limbs gently wrapped up.

3. The benefits of swaddling a newborn baby

There’s also the idea that the first three months of a baby’s life is the ‘fourth trimester’, where they’re transitioning from life inside to outside the womb. Swaddling your newborn is thought to help with this transition, as it creates a warm, snug and secure feel.

4. How to swaddle a newborn baby safely

The Lullaby Trust in the UK has created the following list of tips on how to swaddle your baby safely:

  • Never put a swaddled baby to sleep on their front or side.

  • Never swaddle when bed-sharing

  • Stop swaddling (with arms wrapped inside the material) when a baby shows signs of rolling as they could roll onto their tummy and won’t be able to roll back.

  • Use materials such as a thin muslin or thin cotton sheet – DO NOT USE blankets or place any additional bedding over a swaddled baby, this could cause them to overheat.

  • Ensure baby is not overdressed under the swaddle, has their head uncovered and does not have an infection or fever

  • Check baby’s temperature to ensure they do not get too hot – check the back of their neck. If baby’s skin is hot or sweaty, remove one or more layers of bedclothes.

  • Baby should be swaddled securely to reduce the risk of face-covering by loose material.

  • Swaddles should not be applied very tightly around the hips as this is strongly associated with developmental dysplasia of the hip. However, the swaddle should also be secure enough not to come apart, as loose soft bedding can increase the chance of SIDS if pulled over a baby’s head, causing a baby to over-heat or obstruct their breathing.

  • There are various swaddle products on the market for example swaddle blankets, swaddle sacks and swaddle bags. We can’t comment on their safety but parents/carers need to ensure the products meets necessary safety standards. They should be well fitted.

  • Parents/Carers should ensure they follow the product guidance. Some swaddle manufacturers recommend their product is used when a baby is a certain weight, rather than age so it is best to check on the swaddle product they choose to use.

  • We do not advise on a specific tog rating for swaddle products, we advise parents/carers to use a lower tog rating/lightweight to reduce the chance of baby overheating.

5. When to start swaddling your baby

Swaddling should only be introduced when your baby is a newborn.

6. When to stop swaddling your baby

Swaddling should stop as soon as they show signs that they’re learning to roll over.

7. Is swaddling safe?

If swaddling isn’t done correctly it can be dangerous, so it is crucial to learn the proper technique from a healthcare professional.

Now you know how to swaddle a newborn why not check out our other articles on our Parenting Hub to explore newborn topics:

References
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1) NCT, Swaddling a baby: the benefits, risks and seven safety tips, https://www.nct.org.uk, last accessed 7th May 2021.

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