The Baby Whisperer - Swaddling - 24 November
Swaddling or wrapping a newborn baby is an old and very helpful practice which can aid a baby's transition from the womb into their new world.
Coming from such a safe, warm and small space, it takes time for a newborn to adjust and by swaddling their body, tucking their limbs away, they feel safer and more secure.
The majority of babies need to be swaddled for at least 3 months as their Moro Reflex (startle reflex) slowly disappears at around this time.
The reflex they experience often happens when they are moved about or hear certain stimuli, particularly loud noises or sudden sounds, their arms 'reaching out' in a primitive form to grab hold of something.
It can give them a fright and can break sleeping patterns which in turn can have a snow ball effect, negatively affecting feeding and happiness in a 24 hour day.
The Baby Whisperer's tips
There are many options when buying a wrap or swaddle for your baby. Parents might find purpose-made wraps helpful as babies might escape more easily from old-fashioned square pieces of cotton fabric.
One thing to be careful about when swaddling a baby is that you do not over-heat your baby. As the summer months arrive babies can get very hot and so I advise dressing your baby in fewer clothes before swaddling, then adding more blankets if you feel they need more warmth. It is easier to cool a sleeping baby by removing a layer or two off the top rather than undressing and waking the baby during sleep.
To check on your baby's temperature, place your forefinger and middle finger down their back, between their shoulder blades. If they are sweaty or clammy, remove a layer and keep and eye on them.
Swaddling using a traditional method
When sleeping on the back:
- Bring one arm down the side of their body.
- Hold the arm in place while you bring the wrap across and tuck firmly around the body. Continue to hold that arm in place as it can slip back down the side.
- Bring the second arm down the side of their body like the other arm. Then bring the wrap across firmly and OVER to the elbow level of the first arm you swaddled.
When settling a baby on their side you need to adjust
- The arm of the side that baby is going to lie on comes across her body on a diagonal low enough so it cannot pop out of the swaddle.
- Hold the arm in place while you bring the wrap across and tuck around her body firmly, still holding that arm in place as it can slip back down the side.
- The second arm comes down the side of her body, then again bring the wrap across firmly and OVER the elbow of the first arm.
As times goes on you will get faster and better at the swaddling technique. The quicker and more confident you are the better it is for the baby. They relax and feel secure through your movement.
Where to go for further info
Sharlene Poole - Baby Whispering DVD, Sleeping Section
Baby City - For plain swaddles.
Dimples Baby Wear - For pre-designed swaddles.