Swaddling is one of the oldest tidbits of wisdom for helping babies sleep better. Most new parents hear this advice from someone they know, yet some are hesitant to try it or say they have tried it and "My baby doesn't like it." Saying that a baby doesn’t like swaddling is like saying traffic isn’t bad at 5pm on a Friday in Atlanta! A baby NEEDS swaddling for at least the first 4 months of life, some longer. Recreating the womb by swaddling will help transition your baby into the world and here is why…
For many months your baby has been "swaddled" in a luxurious, comfortable haven where everything is perfect for her wellbeing. Especially in those last few months, your baby is packed very tightly inside the womb and by 40 weeks, she is very used to the wonderful feeling of protection around her.
Parents often think babies need and want their hands free once they are outside of the womb. However, it is quite the contrary. Since babies have been tightly packed in the womb for so long, being “free” when they are born often causes fussiness, restlessness and a baby who doesn’t sleep very well. Give them a tight swaddle and it can make a world of difference!
First, you'll need a large square blanket (40in x 40in cotton flannel blend fabric works the best and can be found at CottonWood Baby Products) to swaddle with.
Second, you'll need to use the perfect method. Here's how to swaddle in 5 easy steps:
1. Start by laying the blanket down in a diamond shape on a nice flat surface such as a bed. Fold one corner of the blanket down several inches. Lay the baby with the back of her neck along the fold.
2. Be sure the baby’s arms are straight to the side and snugly wrap the left side of the blanket completely over the baby and tuck it under her body on the right side.
3. Take the very bottom point of the blanket (below the feet) and bring it up just enough to tuck under her left shoulder (which would be her shoulder on your right). It’s ok to leave a lot of space near the feet.
4. Make sure her other arm is straight to her side and fold down the top right corner of the blanket and bring it to the middle of her chest, leaving the excess material out to the side. This will create a small fold on the baby’s chest that you can tuck the “tail” of the blanket into in order to keep the swaddle nice and tight.
5. While holding the fold in the middle of the chest, take the excess material, grab it in a bunch and wrap it snugly the whole way around the baby’s arms.
To be sure your baby is swaddled in a hip healthy way, the legs need to be free to move about. Be sure your baby can move his legs into a “frog like” stance while inside the swaddle by holding his feet in your hands and gently pushing them toward his body so his knees splay outward in a “frog like” stance. The blanket should be loose enough around baby’s hips and legs to allow this movement easily, without restriction. This will ensure the hips are not being restricted and will avoid hip dysplasia.
If you want to learn more and are located in the metro Atlanta area, you can arrange a private in-home lesson from Parent Nurture to get one-on-one, hands on experience personalized to your specific questions and concerns. The newborn care specialists at Parent Nurture also offer postpartum/overnight care to help new parents and babies rest easily and settle into their new routine as a family. Review the details of our New Parent / New Baby Package and reserve services here.
Bookmark this article for future reference and if you've found these tips useful, please share this post with other new parents. I hope this helps you jumpstart your way to having the happiest baby on the block and a restful night's sleep.