Fair   59.0F  |  Forecast »

Tips to Safely Swaddle Your Baby

Eight pieces of advice to ensure you keep your infant safe and comfortable

The first time you lay eyes on your new bundle of joy, he or she is likely to be wrapped snuggly in a swaddled blanket sleeping comfortably. That is no coincidence, says Fozia Saleem-Rasheed, M.D., a neonatologist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

"Swaddling mimics the snug environment the baby was accustomed to in the womb," she explains.

It is this familiarity that leads many babies to feel comforted when swaddled and thus more likely to sleep better and for longer. Yet, this age-old practice is not without its dangers, like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), overheating or injury, so new parents need to learn the best practices for safe swaddling. Here are some top tips to keep in mind:

Not too tight

Parents often worry about making the blanket too loose for fear, but swaddling a baby too tightly and with his or her legs straight can result in hip dislocation, notes Saleem-Rasheed. Aim for a middle ground in swaddling tightness.

Stop at 2 to 3 months

Saleem-Rasheed cautions that swaddling a baby past 2 or 3 months of age can present additional dangers as the baby becomes more active. "At a few months of age, the baby's activity may cause the swaddle to come undone," explains Saleem-Rasheed, herself a mother of four. "Then you have loose blankets in the crib, which can lead to choking or suffocation."

Consider a sleep sack

Saleem-Rasheed prefers parents use a swaddler or sleep sack that zips. Swaddlers like the Halo SleepSack Swaddle babies to be swaddled with their arms close to their body thanks to velcro flaps sewn in to the sack, so they can't be used incorrectly. If you do plan to use a blanket to swaddle your baby, ask your pediatrician to demonstrate proper swaddling technique while still in the hospital after the baby's delivery.

Arms out

Saleem-Rasheed notes that the gold standard is to swaddle with baby's arms out. Susan Dendrinos, R.N., the nursing manager for the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital Birthing Center concurs. "If the baby is swaddled and rolls over – especially if his arms aren't free – he can end up face down unable to breathe," she explains. For that reason, she advises parents who choose to swaddle, at a minimum, do so with baby's elbows bent and hands out near his or her face.

Watch the weather

In warm weather months, Saleem-Rasheed says parents who swaddle their infant should pay close attention to the temperature in their home. "If it is very hot and the home is not air conditioned, the baby should be dressed in a single light onesie and swaddled in a thin blanket," she says. She points to the thin muslin blankets like those by Aden + Anais as appropriate for warm weather months.

"The concern with overheating is that the baby may fall into a deeper sleep and not arouse as easily, which increases the risk of SIDS," she explains.

Counsel all caregivers

The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that 1 in 5 SIDS deaths occurs while an infant is in the care of someone other than a parent. Therefore, it's critically important that parents talk to those who provide care for their baby on safe sleep practices.

"At two or three months of age, your baby may be in a child care setting," Saleem-Rasheed notes. "You want to make sure the care provider is not swaddling the baby too tightly or swaddling if the baby is older."

No stomach sleeping

Saleem-Rasheed stresses that baby should under no circumstance be swaddled and put to sleep on his or her stomach. That's another SIDS hazard.

Hold baby often

While swaddling infants is a common practice, Saleem-Rasheed stresses that babies find a lot of comfort in just being held.

"I encourage parents to try simply holding their baby first to offer comfort," she says. "Many parents want to swaddle the baby and put him or her down, but nothing mimics the womb better than holding your baby in your arms."

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Popsicle Stick Spider Web Craft with Pompom Spider

Popsicle Stick Spider Web Craft with Pompom Spider

Classic DIY materials are a cinch to transform into a darling Halloween decoration! Have kids get involved with this simple project for October.

'Breaking Bad' Action Figures Pulled from Toys R Us Shelves

'Breaking Bad' Action Figures Pulled from Toys R Us Shelves

After a Florida mom petitioned on Change.org for the toy store chain to stop selling the dolls from the AMC TV show, the toy store has agreed.

Starry Nights and Snowman Fun: Winter Crafts with Olaf, More

Starry Nights and Snowman Fun: Winter Crafts with Olaf, More

Turn a white sock or marshmallows into everyone's favorite goofball from Frozen or gear up for snowy evenings with a constellation lightbox and table runner.

Kids and Indoor Exercise During Cooler Temperatures

Kids and Indoor Exercise During Cooler Temperatures

Keep your kids off the couch this winter and get them active and healthy with these family-friendly fitness tips from the community program director at the Macomb Family YMCA.

Sage Yet Strange 1920s Baby-Naming Advice

Sage Yet Strange 1920s Baby-Naming Advice

Modern flapper era mamas had plenty of progressive advice. But when it came to baby name tips, it was a mixed bag. (And especially tough for poor Lenora!)

Dessert Pizzas Recipes That Kids Will Love

Dessert Pizzas Recipes That Kids Will Love

Slice into sweetness with these kid-friendly ideas – thanks to Betty Crocker, Taste of Home and more – that transform pizza into something oh-so-sweet!

Rustic Pumpkin Lunch Bag Halloween Craft for Kids

Rustic Pumpkin Lunch Bag Halloween Craft for Kids

Lunch surprises can brighten kids' day at school. As October rolls along, try something fun and new with this sweet, not-scary jack-o'-lantern sack.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement