“Hooray, the baby is here” that’s what you think as parents. “Help, where am I?” thinks your baby. Imagine this: within a few hours, they are catapulted out of their dark, cosy, warm home into a completely new environment. Big and bright and cold. So what is swaddling for newborns? Is swaddling a baby safe? How can it help your new baby adjust to the world?
In the fourth trimester – i.e. the first three months of life – the baby must get used to life outside of their parent’s tummy. And that includes coming to terms with the extra space. Wow – suddenly they’re no longer bumping into a soft wall here and there but can stretch out to their full length. This can be unsettling for some babies – which they might express loudly. That is why swaddling can be helpful as a calming aid after birth until around the 8th – 10th week. When swaddling, your baby is wrapped in a cloth or a special swaddle bag like a little spring roll, with their arms wrapped and their legs free to move. Below we explain everything you need to know about swaddling so that it works safely and effectively.
Why should you swaddle a baby?
You don’t have to do anything when it comes to your baby. Swaddling is one of many options because it gives your baby a sense of security by simulating the tightness of the womb. It reduces startling by preventing the Moro reflex (when your baby reflexively raises its arms which can startle them awake), so it helps to calm, provides containment, facilitates regulation and prevents them scratching their face. However, there are risks if swaddling is done incorrectly or unsafely.
When should you stop swaddling a baby to sleep?
Every baby is different and some like more confinement and others less. Normally, swaddling is suitable for the first 8-10 weeks. However, it is important to stop swaddling as soon as your baby starts to roll on his or her own to prevent them rolling onto their front and suffocating.
Which is better – swaddling or using a baby sleep bag?
Swaddlers and baby sleep bags do different jobs. Swaddlers can be used from birth until baby starts to roll and are used to transition baby from sleeping in your womb to sleeping in their bassinet or cot, whereas our Sleeping Bags come in a range of sizes from birth to three years and are used to keep baby comfy and warm while sleeping.
You can find out which sleep product is right for you by clicking HERE.
Can baby be swaddled in a sleeping bag?
No, baby’s arms should always be sticking out of the arm openings of their sleeping bag so they cannot slip down into the bag. They could also overheat, which is a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome.
Are muslin blankets safe for swaddling? Or is a special swaddling wrap / swaddle bag better?
Swaddling with muslin is one option but some people prefer a specially made swaddling wrap or swaddle bag that have special features to make swaddling a newborn easier. The Ergobaby Swaddle Sack is made of 100% cotton and has sewn-in arm pockets and a large romper bag, so your baby doesn’t have to be unwrapped for a quick nappy change. In addition, their little legs can always move freely and the hips can develop healthily. The Swaddler is recognised by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute as “hip healthy”.
Is swaddling a baby safe?
It is never safe to swaddle a baby when bed-sharing or if your baby has an infection or fever. Never put a swaddled baby to sleep on their front or side. The safest sleeping position for a baby (swaddled or not) is on their back.
How to dress your baby when swaddling?
Our Ergobaby Swaddler is 0.5 TOG – making it perfect for normal room temperatures of 21 to 25 degrees. The following table shows what your baby can wear underneath:
Swaddling for newborns – yes or no?
Swaddling newborns is a very personal choice, it works great for some families and not for others so it’s up to you! If you are unsure about swaddling you can always ask your midwife or health visitor for advice.