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Is Swaddling Safe?

Theresa Priebe

New parents are often told to swaddle their newborn and know little about it. I had the same question for my first child. For some, folding up your newborn in a swaddle can seem risky, even though the American Association of Pediatrics  states that it is safe when done correctly. It is the first in the 5 S’s of how to calm and baby and for good reason. Swaddling will prevent your newborn from waking up to his or startle reflex, and will keep them snug and warm as they adjust to living in the outside world.


Is Swaddling right for your baby? Yes, as long as you follow some simple guidelines. I’ve had two children, one of them very fussy, and I consider myself “saved by the swaddle”. The most important safety risk in swaddling is to ensure that your child is placed on his or her back. Bundling your baby in a swaddle and placing them on their stomach or side is not considered safe by experts. If you’re reading my blog, there is a good chance you know about the Public Health Service’s “back to sleep” campaign from 1994. Since parents have started putting their infants to sleep on their backs, swaddle or not, SIDS cases have decreased dramatically. 

 

Because a lot of babies don't like to sleep on their backs, swaddles can help them fall asleep and stay asleep on their backs because they are less likely to wake up from the startle reflex. Some say that swaddling has helped them with the challenge of putting their babies on their backs to sleep.


When you begin swaddling, also make sure that swaddle is not too tight and that your baby is not overheating. If you’re new to swaddling, you can watch my step by step guide here.


Finally, if you baby is old enough to roll over on their stomach, it is time to stop swaddling.


Swaddling is a great tool and wrapping your newborn up in a swaddle can help tremendously with the overwhelming issue of infant sleep, but as with anything, in order for it to be safe you need to make sure you’re doing it correctly. Wrap your child up properly using recommended methods, and always place them on their back to sleep. Transition them out of the swaddle when they’re ready, but utilize swaddling and the other 4 S’s to help your newborn sleep as much as you can, when you can.


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