“Why” and “How long” you should swaddle your newborn baby are the questions of every new parent.
Swaddling is an ancient practice of wrapping newborns in wraps or blankets so that movement of the arms is tightly restricted to help with an immature nervous system, causing sensitivity to the Startle and Moro reflexes. As your baby’s arms suddenly stretch out in a jerking motion she will feel the sensation of falling from mid air waking her in a fright.
You too have experienced this sensation when transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next, its that sickening feeling you are falling out of the sky and bouncing abruptly onto your mattress. In your case you would have gasped, realised what has happened and quickly resettle into sleep again. Giving it little thought the next morning.
Unfortunately your baby does not have the same skill as you and swaddling is her only assistance to stop jerking herself awake besides being held in your arms.
This is why this practice has been around for centuries, helping parents keep their babies asleep. So, if you want to sleep at all in the first few months after the arrival of your baby do yourself a favour and invest in a good quality swaddle. They are an absolute must-have sleeping aid!
By making sure you swaddle your newborn nice and snug, she should feel safely contained and happily enjoy longer stretches of sleep without waking from those sudden movements. The warmth and softness of the material wrapped around her is a loving reminder of being inside your womb offering that blissful sleep.
Swaddle your baby for all periods of sleep not just through the night. Trust me, you will help her learn to tie up her sleep cycles as you keep her tight. There are many benefits of swaddling, but the reduced SIDS risk is a major reason as you can safely place her on her back for sleeping. Never leave your sleeping baby on her tummy unattended.
A good swaddle should consist of a stretchy material and be large in size, I recommend at least 1.2 metres in length. You want the swaddle to wrap well around her growing body. Remembering that babies grow super fast in their first five months, so the wrap should stop her from wriggling out of it and keep her asleep.
The Miracle Blanket and the Burrito Baby Swaddle are my two favourite wraps on the market. Both swaddles take away the stress of wrapping your little one as you master the skill quickly and enjoy your sleeping bundle of joy!
The Miracle Blanket has two internal wings that wrap your babies arms individually while the two outer wings are large enough to wrap around her body a few times over making it completely Houdini proof.
The Burrito Baby Swaddle is very versatile to give your baby the option of wrapping her arms up or in an arms down position. All babies are unique and have their preferred way of sleeping.
If you prefer the traditional wraps with a luxurious feel, I recommend the WeegoAmigo Bamboo Muslin with a beautiful blend of 70% viscose bamboo for silky-softness and 30% cotton for soft durability, these gorgeously coloured WeegoAmigo muslins are a must have to carry in your baby bag.
Soon, around your baby’s fourth month, you will notice her have better control of her extremities and she will no longer twitch herself awake making her movements much smoother, not so robotic. It is around this stage when you see signs of her wanting to roll, that you begin your weaning process leaving one arm free at a time for safety. If your little one doesn’t show interest in moving sideways, just keep her wrapped up.
Free arms are needed to push off the mattress once rolling occurs so avoid delaying the weaning off process and DO NOT CONTINUE to swaddle your wriggly baby.
* Please keep in mind that for physical developmental reasons you must avoid restricting the bottom part of the body as babies’ hip joints keep developing for months after birth. A rise in hip dysplasia caused by restricting the legs in a straight position for long periods of time has risen with the reintroduction of swaddling in the last century.