Wednesday, September 28, 2011


As a new parent, you will marvel at how the nurses in the maternity ward whip out a swaddle in less than 30 seconds. Not only that, but the baby never seems to wriggle out of the nurse's swaddle. With my daughter, it took both my husband and I a little while to do a swaddle that lasted five minutes. But, before we get to the how, a few reasons why.

Why Swaddle?
  • Newborns have been tucked in tightly inside their mothers. While early in the pregnancy there was a lot of room to roll and kick, the last weeks are close quarters. After birth, all that space to move around is unfamiliar and thus scary and uncomfortable. A swaddle helps the newborn feel secure.
  • Newborns can't control all their movements. Their flawing arms and legs can distract them from settling down to sleep, or can wake them fully out of a routine waking in their sleep cycle.
  • A tight swaddle is safer than draping a blanket over the baby. A proper swaddle that stays in place is less of a hazard to covering baby's face.
  • If you believe Dr. Karp, a swaddle is a key step to help reduce colic symptoms.
  • Around one month old, both of my children started to put their hands in the way of nursing. A swaddle during the night time feedings helped us latch faster and with less annoyance for all involved.

How to Swaddle:
  • You have to mean business. You can't gently and delicately swaddle your child and expect it to stay in place for more than a minute. The first time I swaddled my daughter successfully was when I was frustrated with her and handled her rougher than usual. It takes some force to get the blanket tight.
  • If you are using the rectangular blankets (like Carter's makes), I suggest that you wrap the shorter side over first so that the longer side reaches under your child. This will make more sense in practice.
  • See the video below for one way to swaddle. Notice how she gets the blanket over the shoulder. That is really key to preventing the arms for getting free over time.

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