by Kaitlyn Johnson


It is believed that swaddling babies began in the paleolithic era, though the New Testament holds the most famous account of swaddling in its recording of the birth of Jesus. The practice continued through the ages unquestioned until the 1500’s. At that time, a Swiss surgeon by the name of Felix Wurtz challenged the practice, stating that he did not see the use of it and that the tight bindings caused discomfort to the child. It was not until scientists of the 17th century criticized swaddling that it began to fall out of favor, but modern parents are beginning to adopt the practice again as indications showing that swaddled babies may sleep more soundly on their backs than their unswaddled counterparts are rising. Because the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that babies sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, it may be a smart move to swaddle your little one so that she gets a safe, restful sleep. Parents love swaddling because it can help babies sleep longer, but here are some of the reasons why the little ones love it as well.

  1. Swaddling Can Make Babies More Calm – Swaddling babies often seems to calm them down, even when their fussiness knows no bounds. When newborns get fussy even though they’ve been fed and their diapers are dry, often wrapping them snugly in a receiving blank or swaddling wrap will cause them to settle down after a short
  2. They May Sleep More Soundly – Medical information clearinghouse WebMD has published the findings of a sleep study conducted in 2005 that indicated that swaddled infants sleeping on their backs seemed to have a better quality of deep sleep.
  3. Swaddled Babies Get More Sleep – When an infant is swaddled he is more likely to sleep longer, in addition to getting a better quality of sleep overall. In Brussels, Belgium research was conducted at the University Children’s Hospital that showed that infants between six and 16 weeks of age who were swaddled and in the supine position slept longer. This is good news for parents.
  4. Reflexive Actions May Not Wake Them Up – Newborns experience a phenomena called the Moro reflex. This happens when they feel a sudden loss of support. They abruptly extend their arms, bring them back in and then cry. Swaddling an infant prevents this unexpected feeling of instability, and keeps her from waking herself up. This reflex occurs somewhat frequently when a baby is in the supine position, which also happens to be the safest sleeping position for infants. Swaddling can prevent the reflex from waking a newborn in a safe, supine position.
  5. Swaddling Mitigates SIDS Risks – In 2007, a meta-analysis of research on swaddling was conducted by the Journal of Pediatrics. The study found that there was a reduction in the SIDS rate for babies who were swaddled and placed in the supine position for sleeping. It is assumed that swaddling prevents the baby from turning over and sleeping in the prone position, which has a higher incidence of SIDS.
  6. Their Faces Are Protected – Another good reason for swaddling is that, when done correctly, the baby will not be able to inadvertently cover his face with anything. SIDS is also linked to accidental covering of the head in newborns. Proper swaddling can prevent this from happening.
  7. Swaddling Recreates the Sensations of Mother’s Womb – Your baby has just spent nine months in a small, cozy space. Now, she’s been thrust into a rather cold, bright and noisy world where everything is unfamiliar. Researchers cited by the Mayo Clinic have found that swaddling may simulate the feeling of being in the womb, since the baby is snuggly wrapped and her movement is slightly inhibited.
  8. Swaddling Helps Babies Establish a Sleep Schedule – Some infants get droopy-eyed and ready to go to sleep when the swaddling process begins because they’ve learned to associate being swaddled with resting. When the swaddling ritual is instituted before going to sleep, she may become accustomed to the idea that nap time has arrived.
  9. Swaddling Can Feel Like Cuddling – Touch is vital to an infant’s normal development and babies thrive on being cuddled. Unfortunately, it’s just not practical to remain in constant, cuddly contact with your baby. To a certain extent, swaddling your baby imitates cuddling, and therefore can be a soothing and comforting alternative.
  10. Parents are Happier and More Alert – There is a saying, “When Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.” Swaddling your baby means he is more content and sleeps better and for longer stretches of time. That means you get more restful sleep yourself, and well rested parents are better able to meet the needs of their babies to keep them happy and healthy.

Swaddling can help your baby sleep better, be more comfortable and may even reduce the risk of SIDS. Improper swaddling techniques, however, can actually lead to hip problems later in life. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute recommends that parents learn to properly swaddle infants in a manner that will not inhibit hip movement or put their child at risk for hip dysplasia as she gets older.


Kaitlyn Johnson – Newborncare.com


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