Swaddling keeps your newborn feeling safe and secure in his or her first months outside of the womb. A proper swaddling may soothe a crying, colicky baby, and many experts say that babies who are swaddled are actually calmer and happier overall. That doesn’t just go for babies...mums of newborns who are wrapped snuggly for bed have reported more sleep as well!
We asked swaddling expert Samantha Lischka some commonly asked questions about the basics of swaddling. She has experience as a mama to two young boys, and as the owner of Modern Burlap, a brand that makes adorable black and white swaddle blankets for your sweeties. Read on for her answers.
What are the benefits of swaddling?
Swaddling is a long standing technique used by parents for centuries. It soothes baby as it is mimics the environment s/he was familiar with in the womb, and it prevents spontaneous movements during sleep. From 0-5 months, babies often experience the startle reflex, and the falling sensation and jerking of their hands and legs often interrupts their sleep. When baby is swaddled properly, movements are drastically decreased which helps baby sleep more. For this same reason, swaddling is believed to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The US National Institutes of Health encourages parents to put their infants to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. A properly swaddled baby is laid down on their back, and they are less likely to shift to their stomach during sleep.
I’ve never swaddled my baby before...when is a good time to start?
I would recommend starting swaddling any time from newborn to 3-4 months! My boys were born at 36 and 37 weeks, and I began swaddling both of them as newborns. They were incredibly strong, shifting to their stomachs quickly. Swaddling helped soothe them, and it prevented them from shifting to their tummies as they slept.
When should I stop swaddling my baby?
I go by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations on when and how to stop swaddling. The AAP notes that the age to stop swaddling varies from baby to baby. Some babies are ready to stop swaddling by 3-4 months, and some babies continue needing swaddling to help them sleep up to 9 months. I followed the AAP's weaning recommendations, and this helped me know when the time was right to wean my babies from swaddling.
How should I wean my baby off the swaddle?
As per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations which I followed for my infants:
"To decide if your infant no longer needs to be wrapped, try this: After she reaches 2 to 3 months of age, swaddle her with one arm out. If she gets fussier, continue wrapping (with both arms in) for a few more weeks. However, if she still sleeps well with one arm out, she probably doesn’t need swaddling any more. Most babies are ready to be weaned off wrapping by 3 to 4 months of age, although some continue to need the wrapping to help them sleep up to 9 months of age."