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Wrap baby safely: instructions and tips | My Baby My Star

Swaddling is a technique in which a baby is wrapped tightly and securely in a blanket. To safely swaddle a baby, the blanket needs to support the baby’s body comfortably but not too tightly and leave the head free to breathe.

Swaddling can help babies sleep better because it prevents them from jerking awake when noise or movement triggers their startle reflex. It can help calm babies by resembling conditions in the womb.

However, swaddling has some potential risks if a person does it wrong or at the wrong age for the baby.

This article describes how to safely swaddle a baby, why technique is important, when to swaddle and the benefits. We also look at why a baby can resist swaddling and when to stop swaddling.

To diaper a baby safely:

  1. Spread out a square blanket on a flat surface. Position it so that the corners face north and south like a diamond.
  2. Fold the top corner down by a third to the center of the blanket.
  3. Lay the baby face up on the blanket, aligning the shoulders where the top of the blanket ends.
  4. Extend baby’s left arm against their body and wrap the left corner of the blanket over it. Tuck it between your right arm and right side of your body.
  5. Extend your right arm against your body and fold the right corner of the blanket over you. Tuck the blanket under her left side.
  6. Twist or fold the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck under one side of baby. Make sure the baby’s hips and legs can move.
  7. Check that the blanket is not too tight by laying two to three Fingers between baby’s chest and swaddle. If the fingers don’t fit, the swaddle is too tight. If there is too much space, it is too loose.
  8. Adjust or repeat the wrap until it fits properly, then place baby on back to sleep. Always make sure they are lying on their backs while they are swaddled.

Swaddling is generally safe when a person uses proper technique. Swaddling may be unsafe when:

  • The blanket is too warm or the baby has too many layers
  • The blanket is too loose as it can cover the baby’s face
  • The ceiling is too tight
  • the baby rolls onto its stomach

These conditions can increase the risk of harm to the baby. They can cause:

  • overheating: Swaddling in hot weather, with warm blankets, or when the baby is wearing layers puts the baby at risk of overheating. If the baby is sweating, has damp hair, flushed cheeks, or is breathing rapidly, they may be overheating.
  • hip dysplasia: This condition occurs when the hip socket does not properly cover the end of the femur, leaving the leg prone to dislocation. Swaddling babies too tightly can increase the risk of hip dysplasia.
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): Babies who sleep on their side or stomach have an increased risk of SIDS. Loose blankets can also increase risk by making suffocation more likely. Changing nappies safely and making sure the baby is on their back reduces the risk.

It’s safe to swaddle babies for the first 2-3 months of life as long as they show no signs of rolling onto their stomachs.

Parents and caregivers may find it beneficial to change diapers at night as it can help babies sleep better and wake up less. This is safe as long as caregivers monitor the baby to make sure he doesn’t roll over, the blankets don’t become loose, he doesn’t overheat, and he can still be fed as needed.

While swaddling can help babies settle down and sleep, it’s important for caregivers to note that small babies need to be fed often. During the first 2-3 months of life – when swaddling is safe – babies have to breastfeed every 2-4 hours or 8-12 times in 24 hours, or formula feed every 3-4 hours. In general, a baby can have a longer sleep period per day, although this does not necessarily have to be at night, which should not be more than 4-6 hours.

It’s also okay to swaddle during the day, but only for short periods of time. Humans shouldn’t constantly swaddle a baby. Instead, give him a chance to move and let his legs fall into a natural position. This can happen during the prone position when the baby is in a baby carrier or during skin-to-skin contact.

Do not swaddle while feeding as this may cause the baby to overheat. Swaddling while feeding can also suppress some important baby reflexes. During breastfeeding, a baby who can move freely can latch on better and breastfeed more effectively.

Once a baby can roll onto their tummy, diaper changing is no longer safe.

Swaddling sometimes helps with:

However, it’s worth noting that the reason swaddling helps you sleep can also be a disadvantage. Swaddling works by reducing stimuli and baby’s arousal, which reduces waking up. However, a baby’s arousal pathways are important for him to recognize danger or simply react to his surroundings. While having a baby sleeping on their back is known to reduce the risk of SIDS, reduced arousal may actually increase the risk.

It can be harder for swaddled babies to wake up. According to the British charity National Childbirth Trust (NCT), swaddled babies are also able to suckle less and drink less. Especially in the first days and weeks of a baby’s life, this can have a negative impact on a healthy breastfeeding routine. When a baby is changed, their hunger signals may not be as obvious, so caregivers may not feed the baby as often as they should. Because of this, it’s important to only use swaddling in certain situations.

Some babies may get frustrated, cry, or break out of their swaddle. This can happen if the wrap is not properly seated. To attempt:

  • Make sure the wrap is secure but baby can still move their hips
  • Make sure the blanket doesn’t touch the baby’s cheeks as he may interpret this as a sign that the breast is ready for feeding
  • try a different fabric

If the baby is moving their limbs too much while a person is changing them, it may be useful to ask someone else for help. One person can keep the limbs still while the other folds the blanket.

Alternatively, a baby may prefer to sleep without a swaddle.

A person should stop diapering a baby at the first sign that they may be able to roll over. It varies when a baby is able to do this, but it can start as early as 2 months of age.

When the baby reaches this milestone, switch to other methods to soothe him before bed. This can include:

  • Dummy: Pacifiers can calm a baby and help him fall asleep. Pacifiers can also help protect against SIDS. If a person is breastfeeding a baby, they should wait until the baby is used to breastfeeding, around 3-4 weeks of age, before giving them a pacifier. A person should not attach the pacifier to anything or hang it around the baby’s neck.
  • Feeding: Babies often fall asleep while feeding, so people may try to time their feedings to occur before the baby falls asleep. Before feeding, remove all items from the crib or bassinet so that if they do fall asleep, they can go straight to their sleeping environment.
  • Bathe: A warm bath can help soothe a baby before bedtime. It can be part of their bedtime routine and help signal that it’s time to sleep.
  • Music or reading: Soft, relaxing music or reading quietly can help the baby fall asleep. Singing or humming softly can also help.
  • Touch: Gentle touches can help the baby fall asleep. A person can try to gently stroke the baby’s back with the palm of his hand.

Before bedtime, people should aim to turn off anything that might startle the baby, like TVs, phones, or doorbells.

To swaddle a baby safely, a swaddle must be created that fits snugly but is not tight. It should fit securely around the baby’s torso but leave enough room for the hips and legs to move. Babies must always sleep on their backs, whether in a swaddle or not, as this reduces the risk of SIDS.

Parents and caregivers may find that swaddling helps a baby sleep deeper and longer. However, it’s still important to make sure a baby is feeding often enough, usually every 2-3 hours. In addition, it is only safe to swaddle before a baby can roll over. Once they show signs of rolling, caregivers must stop using this technique.

Avoid wrapping too often, too tightly or too loosely. All of these pose a risk to the baby. If a person is unsure, they should stop diaper changing and seek advice from a nurse or pediatrician.


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