Why do we swaddle? It seems a little strange to wrap your baby up tight, and they magically sleep better, but it's proven to help towards a better night's sleep (something none of us can say no to!) Cecilia from Nurture With Nature explains just exactly why swaddling is good for your baby, and how to swaddle for more sleep.
What are the benefits of swaddling a baby at night?
The traditional practice of swaddling dates back to 4000 B.C. It helps your baby feel comforted by containing their reflexes and recreating the feeling of being in the womb.
For the first three months of life, your baby’s sensory system is immature and it can be very easy for them to get overstimulated by being handled too much and exposed to loud noises, bright light and strong smells. With all this external stimulus, your baby has a startle reflex that may kick in (when your baby’s arms and legs suddenly flail outwards) and this can cause them to feel unsettled and more awake. The experience of the outside world for your baby is in stark contrast to the deep pressure, consistent temperature, safe and secure environment of the womb that they’ve been used to for the last 9 months.
So this is where swaddling comes in, as babies love a gentle but firm touch. Swaddling also ensures that your baby’s hands are kept close to their mouth so they can suck on them to self-soothe. Studies have shown that babies have more coordinated sucks and swallows when swaddled, so if your baby is a fussy feeder, keep her/him swaddled when you feed them.
Tips for the perfect swaddle:
1. Place your baby on a large MORI muslin and line the blanket up with the top of your baby’s ears
2. Place your baby’s hands close together in the midline and close to their mouth
3. Bring one corner of the blanket diagonally across their shoulder and arm and tuck it around their body
4. Bring the other corner of the blanket diagonally across their other should and arm, and tuck it around their body
5. Fold the bottom of the blanket loosely around their feet and ensure their legs and hips are in the ‘frog’ position. This is really important so that you don’t damage the soft cartilage of the hip sockets
6. Swaddle your baby in 100% cotton and avoid polyester or fleece swaddles to avoid overheating
SHOP SWADDLE BLANKETS
Another added benefit: By swaddling your baby overnight, you and your partner will likely catch a bit of extra shut eye (which we all know is incredibly crucial)! This is because being snuggly wrapped in a soft material will prevent your baby from waking him/herself up with spontaneous movements and will, therefore, help develop a regular sleep pattern in the longer term too.
For more information on how to swaddle little ones, leading a healthy lifestyle, parenting advice & other environmentally friends brands, head to Nurture With Nature!