Overcast   66.0F  |  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

Mushroom Recipes for a Family Meal

Mushroom Recipes for a Family Meal

Mushrooms can be a tough sell with picky eaters but these dishes will entice them to try a bite – or two!

Tennessee Law Prevents Parents from Giving Child a Hybrid Last Name

Tennessee Law Prevents Parents from Giving Child a Hybrid Last Name

Carl Abramson and Kim Sarubbi mashed together their surnames for their first two kids, but Tennessee law says they can't use the last name 'Sabr' for baby No. 3.

Sticky Fingers Duct Tape Book Offers Easy Bow Making How-To

Sticky Fingers Duct Tape Book Offers Easy Bow Making How-To

Sophie Maletsky's new guide, published by Zest Books, is packed with fun crafts and DIY ideas kids and families can make out of colorful duct tape.

Paper Craft Fun with Handprints, Garland and Kawaii Art

Paper Craft Fun with Handprints, Garland and Kawaii Art

This versatile craft material transforms into an acorn fall creation, decorative ribbon, cute Japanese critters and cool dividers for your kid's closet.

How to Prevent Your Child from Choking

How to Prevent Your Child from Choking

Mealtime can turn from pleasant to panic in a matter of seconds. Protect your child from this mishap with our list of dos and don’ts.

YouTube Moms Parody Iggy Azalea's Hit Song 'Fancy'

YouTube Moms Parody Iggy Azalea's Hit Song 'Fancy'

The rapper's had the hit of the summer, but these clever mothers made it their own, riffing on pregnancy and motherhood in some pretty funny viral videos.

Biscuit Recipes: From Classic to Chocolate

Biscuit Recipes: From Classic to Chocolate

September is National Biscuit Month, but you can bake these any time! These recipes, including classic biscuits from Betty Crocker and cornmeal biscuits from Martha Stewart, will have you reaching...

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement