Swaddling has been around for 1000s of years, but like so many things to do with parenting, it elicits many strong reactions. There are those who swear by it and those who think it’s terrible. Why can’t it ever be a simple answer?
In my experience there is no one size fits all in terms of how to raise a child. What works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another. Have I swaddled the babies in my care? I have. And I’m pretty certain that I will do again. I have found that the three Ss (sooth, swaddle, and sway) really help in calming new-borns. They don’t often like the freedom of space, so a good swaddle can help them to feel secure.
Over the past few years swaddling has been given a bad name. Mainly because of the increased risk of babies developing hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is the medical term for a hip socket that doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone.
With that in mind here are my top tips for swaddling:
1. Make sure they don’t over heat; use a swaddling cloth made from light, breathable material.
2. Make sure they are swaddled correctly. A swaddling cloth has the potential to be a suffocation risk if it’s too loose.
3. Don’t swaddle them while breastfeeding; they will have a more natural position if they are not restricted.
4. Don’t swaddle too tightly over the hips and legs. A new-born’s legs should be able to fall into a natural frog style position.
5. Don’t swaddle above their shoulders.
So how long should you swaddle a baby for? As I wrote before a well-used swaddle can make your baby feel secure and calm. I generally, at around 8-10 weeks, start leaving one arm unswaddled. That way by 3 months they are ready to stop using one. However, as a rule of thumb once they start showing signs of learning to roll over, it is time to start transitioning them away from it.
Written by Anita Flynn
Anita is Norland Nanny and has over 15 years of experience with children.