Swaddling coaxes babies to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
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Swaddling is a technique of wrapping a young baby in a blanket in such a way that the baby’s natural reflexes are suppressed. Midwives and lactation consultants have long advocated swaddling as a means of calming young babies, and now we know exactly why.
All babies are born with natural reflexes that can cause sudden jerky movements, which can wake your baby from sleep. Observations from nearly one thousand babies show that swaddled babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer than those not swaddled. The brain waves of swaddled babies tend to fall into a deep sleep pattern as a direct result of correct swaddling. It is thought that swaddling imitates the restrictive environment of the mother’s womb, therefore dampening the baby’s natural reflexes and helping your baby feel safe and secure. These natural reflexes normally disappear within the first year.
Though many parents have heard of swaddling, few realize just how much swaddling can help calm an over-stressed, over-tired baby, and help to create a peaceful sleeping or feeding environment.
To be effective, swaddling is best introduced during the early weeks and should be discontinued at the first sign of your baby being able to turn over onto their tummy. Ask your midwife to demonstrate the technique for you, including variations where the hands are bundled up and cradling baby’s face, or if your child rejects the standard method, mummy-style with arms folded across the chest. Note that swaddled babies should never be placed prone (on their tummies) due to the risk of suffocation and/or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
A note about the author:
Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, MD Ph.D. is the Founder of The Babyboost Institute for Early Learning and Development. Want more tips? Purchase Babyboost: 50 Critical Facts on Amazon.