Why Do We Swaddle Babies – The Stories And The Facts
Why Do We Swaddle Babies – The Stories And The Facts

If you are a new parent or about to become one, there are plenty of words that will linger around in conversations – and while diapers and nappies, you might have heard of, there could be some terms, which might seem new to you. Swaddling babies could be one such term; although the concept of swaddling has been around for centuries, there will be several modern-day parents who might not know much about it. 

Through this blog, we intend to dissipate some information about swaddling

The history of swaddling a newborn

Swaddling is actually an ancient practice that has been around for several centuries and the history of this procedure goes back thousands of years. 

  • Ancient times – The history of swaddling goes back to ancient Egypt, because the process has been depicted in hieroglyphics and ancient artworks, showing infants being wrapped in strips of cloth. It is also believed that babies would be wrapped tight in bands of cloth in ancient Greece and Rome, as a method to encourage the straightening of limbs. 
  • Middle Ages - Swaddling continued to be a prevalent practice in medieval Europe and Asia, where the babies would be wrapped in cloth bands as a way to keep them warm and comfortable, restrict movement and offer a sense of security to the infants. 
  • 17th to 19th centuries – It was during this time that the method of swaddling newborns crossed the Atlantic and reached the Americas. As a matter of fact, people were taken from Europe to America to teach parents on how to swaddle the baby and the importance of the same. 
  • 20th century to now – When modern baby clothing started to make its appearance, swaddling started seeing a downfall and the belief that babies should be allowed to move their limbs started to gain popularity. However, in the early 21st century, there was a resurgence and people were returning to the practise, having understood the immense benefits. 

What is swaddling and what are the benefits of swaddling a baby

There will always be some naysayers, but the fact remains that there are actual benefits of swaddling a newborn; but before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at what exactly is swaddling. 

Swaddling is a common practice in which a baby is wrapped tightly in a blanket or cloth to restrict their movement. Super soft cloth is used to wrap the baby and it is important that you use only such fabrics that are breathable and will not cause any rashes or allergies. 

Here are the main benefits:

  • One of the biggest benefits of swaddling has to be the fact that it mimics the cozy and confined feeling of the womb. Babies are used to being in a limited space and a sudden exposure to too much space could cause fear and discomfort. Swaddling creates a more limited space and gives the babies a sense of security and comfort. 
  • Newborns have something called the Moro reflex or startle reflex, which leads them to wake up suddenly. This method keeps their limbs all wrapped up, offering them a sense of comfort and warmth. 
  • When the babies are comfortable and warm, they are bound to get a really good sleep, which will be deeper and longer. 
  • Newborns have fingernails that can be quite sharp and these can cause scratches, but when swaddled, the chances of babies scratching themselves are also less. 
  • By reducing excessive movement and reducing the amount of stimulation a baby has, swaddling can also help the managing colic. 
  • Perhaps the biggest benefits of the swaddle method has to be the reduction of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is real and can be caused by babies rolling over in their sleep. Swaddling can ensure that babies sleep on their back and this is something that has been recommended by several paediatricians too.  

How do you swaddle a baby

Talk to older moms and each of them will have their own theory of how to perfectly swaddle a baby, but the basic steps are pretty much the same. 

  • Spread the blanket on a flat surface, like a bed or table – you need to fold the blanket into a diamond shape, with one corner pointing down. 
  • Lay the baby carefully down, on their back, with their head slightly above the folded corner of the blanket. 
  • Now, take the left corner of the blanket and bring it across the baby's body, tucking it under the right side of the baby; roll the baby a little, to get a good tuck. 
  • Pick up the bottom end of the blanket, bringing it upwards, covering the baby’s feet. Do remember to leave a little space for the feet to move easily. 
  • Bring the right corner of the blanket across the baby’s body to the left and tuck it in. 
  • You should check to see that the swaddle is snug, but not tight – you want to allow the baby the scope to move just a little. 

Points to remember while swaddling a baby

Now that you know swaddling benefits, there are some points that you need to keep in mind:

  • For starters, make sure that you choose a really good quality swaddle – it has to be a fabric that is lightweight and breathable, like the muslin cotton swaddles you can find at A Toddler Thing. Muslin and organic cotton are probably the best bets. 
  • You want to pay attention to the temperature – overheating is a genuine problem and you need to keep your baby feeling comfortable. 
  • The swaddling has to be snug, but not too tight – the baby should have sufficient space to move hands and legs and hip. 
  • As soon as your baby starts to roll over, you will want to stop swaddling, because it could lead to suffocation. 
At A Toddler Thing, we want to become your partners in the journey of parenthood, bringing you the best baby products and the most relevant information.