Sleepless nights are a part of your life when you have a small baby. Either the baby does not sleep or wakes up several times at night and start crying. Most first time parents will be clueless and have no idea what to do. Swaddles help enormously! But how many swaddles do you need?
Many new moms only need between 3 and 6 swaddles. You’ll be using two, washing another pair, and probably have two more as backup, just in case. With that said, you can have as many as you want. If you don’t plan on doing much laundry, you have have 10 or more, but it’s not necessary and babies outgrow them quickly.
If you’re still struggling to get a full nights sleep, swaddling is the solution. Swaddling is done not just for that cute baby shoot but also to provide warmth and comfort to the baby.
What Is Swaddling?
Swaddling is a method of baby wrapping in which the baby’s hands and legs are securely wrapped inside a blanket. Only the tiny face will be visible from the outside. Swaddling creates a feeling that the baby is still inside the womb. It is usually done for babies less than five months of age.
Swaddling is not a new technique that is developed by new-age moms. It is a practice that has been followed in several countries for a long time.
What Are The Benefits of Swaddling?
- It provides comfort to the baby.
Swaddling creates a cozy and secured feel of the womb, which a newborn is most familiar with. Most newborns find the outside world to be overwhelming. By swaddling them, they get the same feel like the womb by shutting out the outside world. This creates a warm and cozy feel, making the baby relax and slowly adjust to the unfamiliar world.
- It helps combat startle reflex.
Newborn babies develop a startle reflex (also called moro reflex), a sudden involuntary movement of their arms. The startle reflex happens when the baby transition between different sleep stages. You can decrease the chances of waking up by the startle reflex through swaddling as the arms have limited movement.
- It helps controls involuntary movement.
Newborns do not have any control over their hands and legs. When the baby is tired, their arms and legs jerk unknowingly. Sometimes, they even hit their face. All this unnecessary movement can wake up the baby. By swaddling the baby, all the involuntary movements that wake up the baby can be minimised.
- It is safe
Babies are born with very sharp nails, which are difficult to trim initially. They might move their hands over the face and scratch with the sharp nails. Swaddling prevents the movement of hands, and hence the chances of scratching the face are minimal.
- Maintain the position
Babies must maintain their position while sleeping. Sleeping on the back is ideal as it prevents suffocation. Once you swaddle the baby, they may not be able to change the position. This is particularly important for babies around four months who have just started turning around. Thus, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) can be reduced to a great extend if the baby is swaddled.
How To Swaddle Your Baby?
- You should always swaddle the baby with comfortable material. Cotton muslin cloth, receiving blanket or baby swaddles can be used for swaddling.
- First, fold the swaddle in a triangular position and lay the baby on top with the face above the fold. The broadside of the swaddle should come under the baby’s body.
- Wrap the swaddle from one side by tucking the baby’s arm inside. You should tuck the other end of the swaddle under the baby’s body.
- Fold the bottom of the swaddle upwards, and tuck it at the top of the swaddle.
- Now take the other side of the swaddle and tuck it under the baby’s body after securing the arm inside.
While swaddling, it is less likely that you will swaddle tightly. But to ensure that the whole process is comfortable for your baby, place two fingers between the baby’s chest and swaddle. If it goes in comfortably, it means that you have swaddled properly, without making it too tight. Similarly, make sure that the baby can move the leg and hip when needed.
What Are The Things To Consider While Swaddling The Baby?
- Always try to swaddle during day or night time sleep. This helps the baby to associate swaddling with sleep.
- Even if your baby is swaddled, you should watch them once they attempt to roll.
- There are different types of swaddles available in the market. You should experiment with different types before finalising one.
- Do not swaddle the baby while breastfeeding. This helps the baby move their arms and touch the breast, which is crucial for milk letdown.
- Correct swaddling helps the baby move the hips and legs while keeping the upper part of the body intact. Tightly wrapping the baby’s hips and legs can cause the abnormal formation of their hip joints.
- While swaddling, make sure that it is properly done. Improper swaddling can cause strangulation.
- You should stop swaddling the baby once they are around four months old. Babies more than four months can pull the swaddle and cause suffocation.
- If you stay in a warm region, you should ensure that the baby is not overheated while being swaddled. Check for signs of sweating or dampness in the hair. If you notice this, you should slowly stop swaddling.
How Many 0-3 Months Swaddles Do I Need?
There is no definite answer to this question as it depends on your requirement. Ideally, you should have 3-6 swaddles for a newborn – 1-2 each for wearing, washing and storing.
Sack style swaddles are best during the night as it provides a firm yet a soft wrap for the baby. Even if the baby wakes up at night and makes a fuss, the wrap does not open up. On the other hand, muslin swaddles would be a great option for nighttime. These are light and easy to manage.
Thus, if you keep three of each type of swaddle, you should have a total of six swaddles.
Do Newborns Need To Be Swaddled All Day?
No, you need not swaddle newborns all day. Swaddling the whole day can affect their motor development and mobility. It also affects their opportunity to move their hands and explore the world around them. Once the baby is around one month, you need to swaddle only during sleeping time.
Swaddling during sleep time helps the baby correlate the two. Before putting baby to bed at night, give him a feed, change his diapers and swaddle him. This way, things become more predictable for the baby. When the baby is awake and playing, you should leave them open.
Similarly, while feeding the baby during the daytime, it is best to unswaddle them. Swaddling during feeding time creates a cozy feeling, making the baby drift off to sleep without finishing the feed.
If you keep the baby unswaddled, the baby will move hands and legs and remain awake some more time. But for nighttime feed, you can keep the baby swaddling. This helps them to sleep fast.
Can Newborns Sleep Unswaddled?
Yes, newborns can sleep unswaddled. Some babies may not like being swaddled. If your baby falls under that category, you need not swaddle them. However, if your baby is fussy, it is best to swaddle to calm them down.
But always remember to make the baby lie on the back on a flat surface while sleeping. If they happen to roll over, you should turn them back.
You should stop swaddling the baby once the baby tries to roll over. Swaddling further prevents the normal development of the baby. Similarly, if you are planning to sleep train the baby, you should stop swaddling. One way of sleep training is to learn to self-soothe. This is possible only if the baby is not swaddled.
How To Stop Swaddling the Baby?
Once you notice that your baby is becoming more active and is attempting to roll over, you should stop swaddling. This can happen anytime between 3 and 4 months.
Continuing to swaddle the baby beyond this age is dangerous and can affect their natural growth. If the baby kicks the blanket, there is always a danger of strangulation. Similarly, restricting the baby’s natural movement can affect their motor development.
Stopping the swaddling should be a gradual transition. You can try the below steps while stopping swaddling.
- When you swaddle, leave one arm free so that the baby can move it freely.
- Once the baby is comfortable with one arm out, you can slowly open the other arm as well.
- Gradually you can stop swaddling once the baby is used to this position.
Swaddling is a very effective technique to transition the baby to the outside world slowly. Swadling creates a womb-like feel that provides ample warmth and comfort to the baby.
This helps the baby to adjust to the new world slowly. Moreover, it lets the baby sleep peacefully for a long time as the startling reflex can be contained to a great extent when properly swaddled.
But while swaddling, you should ensure that it is not too tight. Similarly, once the baby is around four months, you should stop swaddling so that they can move their limbs freely and develop their motor skills.
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