Being swaddled gives babies a deep pressure sensation that calms them and helps their systems to adapt well to dealing with the world. New babies need a balance of stimulation and calming. Young babies are sensitive to environmental and other changes, so their sleep is easily disturbed. Babies are also easily woken by the Moro or “startle” reflex, an involuntary muscle movement. Being securely bound in a cosy, stretchy blanket facilitates restful naps, while swaddling can rapidly calm down an over-stimulated baby by mimicking the pressure of the womb in utero. Swaddle baby once she has been fed, bathed and changed and is ready for her nap.
How to swaddle your baby
Some methods differ slightly, with the 2 side corners being folded over before the bottom corner, which is then pulled up and the edges tucked underneath each of baby’s shoulders.
- Use a soft cotton receiving blanket. Put the blanket on a flat surface and fold down a top corner by about 15cm.
- Gently place baby on her back, with her head on the fold.
- Pull the corner at baby’s left hand over her body and tuck it in under her back, underneath her right arm.
- Pull the bottom corner up over her feet, towards her chin. Do not cover her neck or face.
- Pull the corner at baby’s right hand over her body and tuck it under her back, on the left side.
If your baby doesn't like to be swaddled Swaddle baby while she is awake only until the age of about 1 or 2 months, as it may hamper mobility in older babies. If your baby doesn’t like being swaddled, then wrap the blanket under her arms so that she is snug but can still move her hands and arms.
Things to look out for Never cover your baby’s face, as it could cause overheating or suffocation. Always be aware of overheating. Your aim is security, rather than warmth. Don’t wrap your baby too tightly or her circulation could be limited. Don’t swaddle a baby in a very warm room, as overheating contributes to SIDS.
Using a sling Carrying baby in a sling is an alternative way to help her feel safe and secure. If the weather is very hot, draping a toweling nappy across baby from her cheek, across her shoulder and over the tummy works well. (This is also a good for bath-time tip – drape a warm, wet facecloth over baby’s tummy while she is in the water to make her feel less exposed and more secure. Feel baby’s feet or hands to establish temperature. If the feet or hands get cold, this means the body is taking excess blood from the extremities to the core areas (brain, heart, lungs and important organs) for warmth. Aim for warm hands and feet and dry temples.