Swaddling is an age old practice of wrapping babies in the blanket. The babies born in hospitals are swaddled before they are handed over to parents and the nurses at hospital are experts of this job. The major reason behind swaddling babies is that the babies will sleep better and cry less within a swaddle.
The babies who recently emerge in to a new world from a world of darkness get a feeling of security and warmness within this swaddle till they get adjusted fast to the new surroundings.
Benefits of Swaddling
Swaddling provides a feeling of calmness and safety to the baby as the baby is used to an enclosed womb where it is well protected within the limited space of a womb. After birth suddenly the baby is out of his comfort zone and is exposed to a new environment where there is lot of space, noise and even temperature difference.
These changes make the baby disturbed and finally it may end up in crying. Swaddle can provide the tightness and warmth that the baby is used to in the womb and this helps to calm down the baby. Swaddling also reduces the drastic difference between the environment within the uterus and the outside world and provides a feeling of security to the baby. Babies used to move their legs and hands unknowingly and this causes the baby to startle.
This startle upsets the baby and leads to over stimulation which makes the baby wake up and cry in order to stop the over stimulation. Swaddling helps to block such jerky leg and hand movements and allow the baby to sleep well. Uninterrupted and longer sleeps also helps the mother to take rest and to regain her health.
Most of the newborns have long nails that grow faster and babies used to scratch their face with their nails during those jerky movements. But swaddling helps to protect the babies from scratching themselves. Before swaddling the mother must know how to swaddle the baby for getting maximum benefits and how long it should be swaddled. Extensive swaddling may affect the baby adversely and may lead to problems in hip joints.
This is because hip joint continues to develop during this period. Hence during the first few days of birth swaddle the baby throughout the day and then it is ideal to swaddle the baby during the nap time and also in the bed time to get uninterrupted sleep. Thereafter leave him during the other hours to get maximum benefits while avoiding the risks.
Most of the babies like to be bundled to a maximum of one month after their birth thereafter they used to kick off the swaddle or cry to get out of it. This is because by this time swaddling interrupts the movement and development of the baby and his internal thermostat would have got adjusted with the new environment and he is aware of this new world.
Types of Swaddling Blanket
The most commonly used swaddle blanket is a soft blanket having a square shape. This can be used by laying the baby with its head on one corner of the square and by crossing each end across and over the chest of the baby. The tail end of the blanket should be tucked over the top of the shoulder.
Square swaddle blanket is made of different materials such as cotton, wool, soft muslin, flannel etc and mothers can choose them according to the climatic situation of their area. Another type of swaddling blanket is the woombie which can be zipped up to keep the baby warm and softly compressed. It controls the scratching habit of the baby with the nails and the sudden infant death syndrome caused by loose blankets.
It is quite easy to learn the process of swaddling with this type of blanket and the foot pocket of this swaddle can be opened easily for changing the diaper without even un-swaddling the baby. Moreover it provides all the benefits a swaddle blanket gives. Sleep sack is another swaddling blanket and is usually zip up but has enough space in the bottom to allow movements for the foot but the arms are not enclosed.
It fits like a vest and the sleeveless sleep sack avoids the risk of overheating. Another type of swaddling blanket consists of one foot pocket and two wings made out of fabric to warp around the baby and it can be secured easily with a Velcro. The foot pocket can be opened separately for diaper checks without un-swaddling the baby. This makes the swaddling process much easier.
How to Swaddle a Baby
Take a square swaddle blanket and fold one corner of the blanket a little down and keep the baby in the middle of the folded portion with its head out of the edge of the blanket. Now grab the left corner of the blanket and pull it fitting closely across the baby’s chest but do remember to keep the right arm close his body and tuck the end of the blanket under the baby’s body after lifting his left arm.
Then get the bottom of the blanket and warp it over the body to tuck it under the shoulder within the first swathe. Thereafter pull the right end of the blanket across the baby’s body after securing his left arm close to the body. Then tuck that end under the baby’s back and ensure that the baby is snugly wrapped while carrying him. Some babies struggles to take their hands out and if so swaddle them by keeping their hands out. Indeed babies can be swaddled by keeping their arms up by their face or along their torso or even across their chest. It depends mostly on the preference of the baby.
Do not swaddle a baby within a warm room as overheating may leads to sudden infant death syndrome. Similarly take good care to avoid the blanket to come close to the baby’s nose and mouth as it may lead to suffocation hazards. After all swaddling can’t take up the miraculous and loving nature of a mother’s hand. All babies feel extremely safe and comfortable with the warmth and smell of their mothers. Hence swaddle and keep your baby close to the mother to secure him from the stresses he may face in his new environment during the first few weeks of his birth.
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