Getting a cranky infant to sleep is one of those parenting skills that is part luck and part strategy. While a favorite lullaby and a comfy rocking chair can do a lot, many parents find that swaddling their infant at nap time increases not only the speed with which the little one falls asleep, but the length of the time spent sleeping as well.
What is swaddling?
Swaddling is a technique of wrapping a baby in a blanket, usually before putting the infant down to sleep. The tight folds mimic the security and comfort of being in the womb, which your child will likely find soothing. When done correctly, it can be a useful tool in your parenting arsenal.
Whether you're just learning how to swaddle or need a refresher, the process is much simpler than it may appear. According to the Mayo Clinic, the basic steps for safely swaddling a baby are to put the child face-up on top of the blanket with the head at the folded corner's edge. Hold the baby in place and take the far right corner and fold the blanket across the body and tuck it underneath. Then take the bottom corner of the blanket and fold it up, leaving enough space for the baby's feet to move around. Finally, fold the left side corner of the blanket and wrap it over the child, tucking it underneath, leaving the neck and head exposed above the blanket.
To make sure the swaddle isn't too tight, test the space between the infant's chest and the blanket. You should be able to fit two to three fingers, according to Dr. Rachel Moon, FAAP, the chair of the group that wrote the American Academy of Pediatrics's safe sleep recommendations.
Always talk to your physician before swaddling your child for the first time to ensure that it's the right strategy for your child and make sure you're doing it correctly.
When swaddled, babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep. The AAP reported that research suggests side or tummy sleeping while swaddled can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Consequently, the general recommendation is that parents should stop swaddling once there is risk that the infant may flip over while sleeping.
"I would stop swaddling by age 2 months, before the baby intentionally starts to try to roll," Moon said. "If babies are swaddled, they should be placed only on their back and monitored so they don't accidentally roll over."
The benefits of swaddling
Swaddling is largely attractive to new parents as a way to help a baby – and, by extension, mom and dad – get some extra ZZZ's. The AAP reported that, when done correctly, swaddling can both calm your child and promote sleep, valuable results during the first couple of months when settling into a nap routine may prove difficult.
However, the key is that swaddling needs to be done correctly to be beneficial. Swaddling too tightly around the bottom half of the infant, for example, can lead to a condition called hip dislocation or hip dysplasia. The latter is a condition in which the hip joint forms abnormally and consequently does not hold the thigh bone firmly in place, leading to a heightened risk of dislocation. Hip dysplasia can be avoided by leaving enough space in the swaddle for your baby's feet and legs to move around.
But what if there was an easier way to make sure that your baby is swaddled correctly every time? Thankfully, there's Brownmed's NuRoo Swaddler. With a pocket for your child and velcro wings that easily fold into place, it takes the guesswork out of swaddling.
As an added perk, the NuRoo Swaddler os the only swaddle your child will need as he or she grows. The 3-in-1 design lets you extend its length as needed, so you have the perfect fit at every stage. The swaddle is made from super soft, moisture-wicking material that will keep your baby comfy, cool and dry.
In addition to the standard model, you can check out a variety of sweet new patterns in our limited edition collaborative Lucy Darling Collection.