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To Swaddle or Not to Swaddle

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By Al Ferguson

Al Ferguson is the CEO and founder of The Dadsnet.

Published on 02/07/2014

That is the question. 
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind of a baby to feel contained or ‘held.’
Or take arms out of the blanket and be free in the sea of troubles. 
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep – no more – and by a sleep to say we end the heartache. 

Turns out even Shakespeare was confused by the whole swaddling idea. That was a pretty lame attempt at altering the great Shakespeare… I should probably stay well clear in the future. 

The idea of swaddling your baby is to make them feel tightly held as if they were still in the womb. They say that this can really help your baby feel relaxed, safe, settled and less stressful and prevents the startle reflex. In turn this can improve sleep. Wahooo! Anything to improve sleep surely? 

Well, some professionals say that they aren’t 100% sure what the long term affects are of swaddling. They say that some adverse affects are: 

#1 Increased risk of cot death

#2 Reduced breastfeeding at birth

#3 Increased early weight loss

#4 Acute respiratory problems

#5 Overheating

#6 Hip dypaslia 

These are genuine risks that need to be considered when swaddling. Some parents might want to swaddle when feeding as it stops the baby from thrashing and scratching. This is true but it’s also true that a baby uses it’s arms to feel and explore when feeding and can help improve the ‘latching on’ process. babies also need to move their legs like a frog in order for the hip joint to develop properly, if it doesn’t then it can cause problems. These aren’t reasons not to swaddle; just considerations.

Others say there are lots of benefits to swaddling: 

#1 Lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome

#2 Increased sleep

#3 Reduces crying

#4 Encourages parents to put babies on their backs, thus helping the above. (Did I just use the word ‘thus?’

 I hope that you’re getting the point here that’s it’s 6 of one and half a dozen of another. Use your own instincts. 

If you decide to swaddle, the advice is this: 

Don’t swaddle too tightly so they still have some movement for their legs and definitely don’t cover your baby’s face. You need to monitor their temperature frequently and ensure they don’t overheat. There is certainly a place for swaddling, and we will be swaddling our little Rex. Cultures all over the world swaddle their infants so culture plays a big part. As long as you have considered the risks and made an informed decision, I think swaddling is a good call. 

The Dad Network wants to recommend Merino Kids that sells wonderful baby clothing, including swaddling blankets specifically designed. The material is Merino Wool which is the best material for baby clothes as it controls the climate more effectively than anything else. Perfect for swaddling. They are also designed to help swaddle so dads can even have a go.  It’s a fantastic company with beautiful clothing. Take a look at our review as well.

Here’s another link to a video about how to swaddle your baby. Take it with a pinch of salt, it’s not gospel but gives you an idea.

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  1. Gilly

    I bought for my baby girl a sleeping grobag also from merino wool but from a diiferent store The fabric is so soft and it keps her very warm at night. Happy of it!

  2. Dee

    I swaddled all 3 of mine and laid them on their side with a rolled up towel behind them to stop them rolling. My mum did same with the 6 of us and my nan with her 8. Only for sleeping, not for feeding. It makes them feel secure. I was the only one in a ward of 8 that did it with my youngest. I was much older than the others and disregarded staff advice and my daughter was the only one that slept for hours.

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