Menu Close

Swaddling

Swaddling is a common practice for newborns and is said to help the newborn feel the warmth of like being in a cocoon and similar to the comfort they felt in your womb.  Many can find it helps to soothe their baby when crying as well as help them to settle more easily and sleep for longer times.

There are a few different types of swaddling which have been outlined below.  The DIY way where you can use a thin blanket, small sheet or square muslin and then Swaddle Bags or Sacks Products.  Some babies settle better in the DIY type of swaddle whereas others in the Swaddle Bags or Sacks so can be a matter of trying different options.   There are other benefits of Swaddle Bags or Sacks over DIY Swaddling include:

  • Most brands offer Swaddle Bags and Sacks in different TOGS (thicknesses) so you can choose the right one for the environment you are in helping with better temperature control
  • They do not need any skill in technique as just use zips or poppers
  • Do not pose the risk of unravelling like DIY swaddling
  • They naturally allow room for the legs to move and allow the hips to fall out into the Frog position which helps to reduce risk of Hip Dysplasia
  • Some brands offer Bags and Sacks that can transition from arms being enclosed to arms being out which is required when they start showing signs of being able to roll and in line with Safe Sleep Guidance should not have their arms enclosed.

NB. if using one of these Swaddle products ensure it conforms to safety standards and fits well in addition to not being faulty in any way.  This is particularly important if buying a Swaddle product secondhand.

Safety Tips for Swaddling

Below will cover how to ensure your baby is Safe when Swaddling

  • Temperature control – Sleep Bags and Sacks often come in different TOG levels helping to choose the right thickness for the environment – monitor for overheating – if their cheeks are flush or their chest hot to touch it the baby has too many layers – avoid swaddling if unwell or has a fever
  • In accordance with the Safe Sleep Guidance by the American Society of Paediatrics when swaddled they should be placed on their back on a flat firm mattress in a crib or bassinet or on a playyard mat with no additional objects placed with them including other covers, soft toys, positioners, bumpers etc
  • If they show any signs of being able to roll which is normally about 3-4 months ensure they are no longer swaddled with their arms enclosed as if they roll onto their front they will be at risk of suffocation

Extra Safety Tips for DIY Swaddling

  • Ideal size of the sheet, blanket or muslin to use is a square between 40 and 48 inches (100cm-120cm) long each side
  • Temperature control – ensure that you monitor your baby for overheating – use thin materials such as small cotton sheets of muslin squares, a guide is that you should only use 1 more layer than yourself as an adult is comfortable with in the same environment
  • Ensure their head and neck is not covered in any way – the swaddle should be secure around over their shoulders so does not come loose giving potential for suffocation
  • When swaddling make sure the legs are positioned in a frog position where they fall down to the sides rather than being forced straight down with knees together – important to help to reduce the chance of Hip Dysplasia
  • Avoid Weighted Swaddling – meaning putting weights inside the swaddle
  • If someone else is looking after your baby ensure they are knowledgeable about the swaddling technique and safety considerations

How To DIY Swaddle

Below are a couple of different Swaddling techniques you can try.  One is shown via an infographic and the other on video by Helen Nash (Midwife and Doula from Lovebirth).

Clarke N. (2014) Swaddling and hip dysplasia: an orthopaedic perspective. Archives of Disease in Childhood (99)5-6. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2013-304143

Eline L. Möller, Wieke de Vente, Roos Rodenburg (2019) Infant crying and the calming response: Parental versus mechanical soothing using swaddling, sound, and movement, PLoS ONE 14(4) https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0214548

Kelly B, Irigoyen M, Pomerantz S, Mondesir M, Isaza-Brando N. (2017) Swaddling and Infant Sleeping Practices. J Community Health Feb;42(1):10-14 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27393144/

Mahan S, Kasser JR. Does swaddling influence developmental dysplasia of the hip? Pediatrics. 2008;121:177-178. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18166571/

Moon RY, Carlin RF, Hand I (2002) Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2022 Recommendations for Reducing Infant Deaths in the Sleep Environment https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/150/1/e2022057990/188304/Sleep-Related-Infant-Deaths-Updated-2022

Pease AS, Fleming PJ, Hauck FR, Moon RY, Horne RS, L’Hoir MP, Ponsonby AL, Blair PS. (2016) Swaddling and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome: a meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 137(6) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27244847

Price C Dr.  Swaddle Design Considerations. https://hipdysplasia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Swaddle-Design-Considerations.pdf

Sleuwen B, Engelberts A, Boere-Boon M, Kuis W, Schulpen T, Lhoir M (2007) Swaddling: A Systematic Review https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5935787_Swaddling_A_Systematic_Review

Leave a Reply