Swaddling refers to the technique of wrapping an infant, using a leso, light shawl or blanket in order to limit movement of the limbs while sleeping.
When to Swaddle
Consider swaddling your baby:
- Between new-born stage up to the 4th month, although this may vary from one baby to another. Some may take longer.
- When the baby is about to sleep.
When Not to Swaddle
- If the baby is able to roll over on their tummies while sleeping.
- If the baby is able to break free consistently from the swaddle.
- When you are starting to coach the baby on good sleeping habits.
How to Swaddle
Follow this procedure to swaddle your Baby the right way:
- Spread the light blanket or leso with one the edges folded inwards.
- Place the baby on the blanket or leso with the head resting on the folded edge.
- Straighten one of the baby’s arms along its body and wrap the body while repeating the same with the other arm. Leave a few inches between the leso and the baby’s chest to avoid suffocation.
- Fold the lower part of the blanket or leso and tuck it into either side of the already folded blanket/ leso covering the baby.
- Do not wrap the lower part tightly.
See a clear description of how to swaddle a baby below.
Advantages of Swaddling
- Its soothing effect enables the baby to fall asleep, thus giving the mother enough time to rest or do other chores.
- Reduce risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)- By the mere fact that the baby is lying on their backs, chances of suffocation is minimal.
- Longer sleep- Due to the limited movement of the limbs, involuntary muscle movements which can easily disturb the baby’s sleep, will be minimised.
Disadvantages of Swaddling
- Risk of hip dysplasia-This is the dislocation of the hip that might be caused by tightly wrapping the infant’s hip. To avoid this, make sure that the hip area is not tightly wrapped.
- Suffocation-This might occur when the swaddle becomes loose and thus covering the face of the baby causing difficulties in breathing. Make sure that there are no loose garments or blanket around the cot.
- No bonding-There isn’t any skin-to-skin connection between mother and the baby which is vital for the baby’s growth.
Please note that development differs from one child to another.
Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.
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Last reviewed March 2019