The sensible art of swaddling

the sensible art of swaddling

It may well come as a big surprise to you how much newborns cry and the one skill you will need is how to prevent crying and calm your fussing baby.

As D-Day approaches, you no doubt prepared yourself mentally for your baby’s birth. Like many women, you may have joined antenatal classes as the ultimate preparation for the big day. But few, if any of us, get to attend classes preparing us with what to expect or how to manage in the first few weeks. One sure way to calm your baby in the early days: Swaddling

It may well come as a big surprise to you how much newborns cry and the one skill you will need is how to prevent crying and calm your fussing baby. Here are a few practical ideas to promote calm and help you survive the early days:

  • Swaddling
  • Baby Massage
  • Baby Wearing – carrying your baby is a sling or pouch
  • Getting your newborn to sleep regularly
  • Soothing sounds, such as singing or white noise
  • Sucking – a pacifier or a thumb work well for non-nutritive sucking

Let’s look at one of the best methods of keeping your baby calm: swaddling

“Swaddling is the best way to imitate the tight hug of the womb environment. It provides deep touch pressure and also prevents your baby’s little limbs from shooting out in a startle reflex – a common cause of night wakings in young babies” Baby Sense (Metz Press)

The best way to contain your newborn’s early reflexes and startles is by swaddling your baby. Swaddling is an ancient method of baby wrapping. For some cultures, babies are wrapped for many months, rarely touching the ground as they are carried in these swaddled positions. Although this may be the extreme, it is important, if not vital that you swaddle your baby at least for sleep.

Benefits of swaddling 

  • Sleep:The evidence is overwhelming that babies who are swaddled sleep longer and better. Swaddling inhibits the immature startle reflexes, which disrupts sleep.
  • Calm:Deep pressure is calming which is why swaddled babies cry significantly less. Swaddling is thus an excellent solution for a colicky baby.
  • Feeding:Difficult feeders, especially those who fight at the breast, tend to feed better with more coordinated sucks and swallows when they are swaddled. (Journal of Human Lactation, 2001)

You need

  • Use a 100% cotton blanket to prevent overheating and the associated risk of SIDS.
  • Preferably use a blanket with some stretch, which will wrap snugly around your baby and allow for movement within the “wrap”
  • If you are using a rectangular blanket, fold it into a triangle, alternately use a specially shaped swaddling blanket.

How to swaddle with the Baby Sense Cuddlewrap

Lie your baby with the neck on the long side of the triangle.

  • Fold up the lower tip of the swaddling blanket.
  • Wrap one corner of the triangle across your baby, securing her hand near her face so that she can self calm by sucking her hand if she needs to.
  • Wrap the other arm in with the other corner of the triangle.

Swaddle on the go

The Baby Sense Cuddlegrow is a mixture of the perfect heart shape swaddle design of the Baby Sense Cuddlewrap and a conventional babygrow. This unique design allows for safe swaddling in a car seat and pram, providing a soothing cuddle while sleeping and traveling. 

Precautions

  • Your baby can be swaddled for all day and night sleep. In the early days she will be sleeping most of the day and thus be swaddled a great deal of time. When your baby is awake and playing or being changed, unwrap her so that she gets to have a good kick and work her little hip joints.
  • Do not use swaddling blankets that straight jacket your baby’s arms by her sides.
  • Do not overheat your baby by using polyester or polar fleece swaddles.
  • Do not wrap baby too tight – to check if you have got it right, you should be able to slide your hand down the front of the wrap when baby is completely swaddled.
  • It is imperative that if the Cuddlegrow is used in an infant car seat it be used EXACTLY as recommended by the manufacturer – arms extending through the sides of the harness. Swaddling should happen over the harness i.e. after the baby has been buckled-up.
  • Under no circumstances must the wrap cover baby’s mouth or face.

The early days are as precious as they are difficult. Enjoy the highs and the precious moments of getting to know your baby and remember the tough time of the early days pass so quickly.

By Meg Faure