Swaddling is a great way to promote sleep for your newborn baby. This traditional practice has been around for a long time, for good reason: it works wonderfully to soothe newborns. However, as modern parents, it’s important to take into consideration the research that has been done on safe sleep for babies and to make informed choices that work for your family.
Here are some researched-backed ways to ensure you are swaddling safely, while you enjoy some much-needed Z’s.
Swaddling Safety Tips
- Make sure your baby does not get overheated, as this can increase the risk of SIDS. Make sure the room baby sleeps in is cool, they are not overdressed under the swaddle, and that the swaddle is a muslin or light cotton material.
You can check their temperature by sliding your finger behind their neck and feeling if their upper back is warm and clammy. If they are too warm, you should remove the swaddle.
- Reduce the risk of hip dysplasia by ensuring the swaddle is loose enough around the hips that the baby can lift their legs into a “froggy” position.
- Stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows signs of rolling over. Rolling over while swaddled increases the risk of SIDS. To help transition out of using the swaddle, try swaddling with one arm out, alternating arms each time baby sleeps. This can help baby get used to having their arms out of the swaddle.
- Ensure the swaddle does not come above their shoulders – it should never cover their head or neck.
- Follow other safe sleep guidelines while swaddling: always put baby to sleep on their back on a firm flat surface and ensure there are no loose blankets or soft bedding in the crib.
How to Swaddle
Here’s a great video that shows how to properly swaddle a baby. You can also ask your nurse, doula, or midwife for a demonstration after your baby is born.
Not every parent chooses to swaddle, and some find that their babies are little “Houdinis” – always escaping even the tightest swaddle. Every baby is a little different, and part of parenting is finding the solutions that work best for your family.
If you are looking for other ways to soothe your newborn baby and get more sleep, check out Harvey Karp’s book “The Happiest Baby on the Block”, which details five ways to soothe a newborn baby.
We wish you all the best with your new baby and if a postpartum doula could help you get some rest, please reach out to us for support!