What does it mean to swaddle a baby?
Swaddling is the art of snugly wrapping a baby in a blanket for warmth and security. It can keep your baby from being disturbed by her own startle reflex, and it can help her stay warm and toasty for the first few days of life until her internal thermostat kicks in. It may even help to calm your baby.
These days, you probably won't leave the hospital without a little lesson in this technique. Try it, after you've made sure your baby isn't hungry, wet, or tired. Swaddling can be used to help settle your baby down when she's overstimulated or when she just needs to feel something similar to the tightness and security of the womb.
If you choose to swaddle, be sure you know how to do it correctly. Improper swaddling by tightly wrapping your baby's legs straight down may loosen the joints and damage the soft cartilage of the hip sockets, leading to hip dysplasia.
Developmental hip dysplasia is relatively common in newborns. Your doctor will screen your baby at birth and well-child visits for the condition. Family history, breech delivery, and being a girl put your baby at greater risk for hip dysplasia.
To prevent hip dysplasia when you swaddle, be sure there's enough room at the bottom of the blanket so that your baby can bend her legs up and out from her body.
Once your baby is about a month old you might want to stop swaddling her while she's awake, as it can interfere with mobility and development in older babies. It's fine to keep swaddling your baby for naps and nighttime if she seems to sleep better that way, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you stop swaddling when your baby is 2 months old – before she starts trying to roll over.
How I swaddle a baby?
See photos that demonstrate how to swaddle a baby in five simple steps.
- Lay a blanket on a flat surface like a diamond and fold down the top corner about 6 inches to form a straight edge.
- Place your baby on his back so that the top of the fabric is at shoulder level.
- Bring your baby's left arm down. Pull the corner of the blanket near his left hand over his arm and chest, and tuck the leading edge under his back on his right side.
- Bring your baby's right arm down. Pull the corner of the blanket near his right hand over his arm and chest, and tuck the cloth under his left side.
- Twist or fold the bottom end of the blanket and tuck it loosely behind your baby, making sure that both legs are bent up and out from his body, his hips can move, and his legs can spread apart naturally.