Why an arms down swaddle?
- Wrapping makes your baby feel cozy and snug, just like he was in the womb
- It helps reduce the effects of the Moro or startle reflex which can cause baby to waken
- If baby is in a overly hyperactive or stressed state, it can calm baby’s central nervous system, so baby can be easily settled ready for sleep
- Most babies stay calmer and sleep longer with arms down swaddling
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When should I start wrapping my baby?
A: You can swaddle your baby as soon as baby is born, or start anytime up until around 3 months of age or even later, depending on your baby’s developmental stage. The key when starting out is to be patient and to start swaddling when your baby seems sleepy and receptive.
Q: Do all babies like to be swaddled?
A: Some very calm babies can do well without swaddling, but as a general rule, the fussier the baby, the more baby will need it. Your baby may appear not to like being swaddled at first but persevere because baby will eventually relax.
Q: Will swaddling help my baby to sleep?
A: Even easy babies who don’t need swaddling to calm them usually sleep better when swaddled, because being wrapped stops them from startling themselves awake. The trick is is to swaddle your baby’s arms down against baby’s sides.
Q: How do I know when to stop swaddling?
A: Babies are usually ready to be weaned off wrapping by three or four months of age, or as soon as baby shows signs of beginning to roll. Keep in mind, that if your baby resists wrapping, that’s often when it becomes most valuable.
Q: How tightly should I wrap my baby?
A: The swaddle must be firm, so that the fabric doesn’t come loose with baby’s movements, but it must also allow for free movement of the hips and legs. Check to see it’s snug by sliding your hand under the swaddle; there should be some resistance, but not be too restrictive around the chest.
Q: Will my baby get too hot in a swaddle?
A: Try to keep baby’s room temperature constant (between 18 and 21 degrees is optimal). If you can’t control the room temperature, dress your baby accordingly underneath the wrap. Your baby may only need a nappy and singlet in warmer weather and perhaps a lightweight grow suit as well in cooler weather. To check for overheating, feel baby’s ears and fingers: if they’re hot, red and sweaty, baby is probably too hot.
Q: Is there any risk in swaddling my baby?
A: According to the Red Nose Foundation, there is no evidence that swaddling is harmful. if principles of safe wrapping (see following page) are applied.
How to swaddle according to the principles of Safe Wrapping
- Ensure that baby is positioned on the back with feet at the bottom of the cot
- Ensure that baby is wrapped from below the neck to avoid covering the face
- Use only lightweight wraps such as cotton or muslin (bunny rugs and blankets are not safe alternatives as they may cause overheating)
- The wrap should be firm to prevent loose wrapping becoming loose bedding. However the wrap should not be too tight and must allow for hip and chest wall movement.
- Modify the wrap to meet your baby’s developmental changes, e.g. arms free once the ‘startle reflex’ begins to disappear, usually around 3 months (the Moro or ‘startle’ reflex should have disappeared completely by 4 to 5 months).
Types of Swaddles
- Fitted swaddle: good if you struggle with folding a flat wrap and for baby ‘Houdini’s’ who tend to break free from a flat wrap
- A good all round fitted swaddle is the ‘Miracle Blanket’
- Flat swaddle: less expensive, very portable and easy to launder. Use a large wrap of at least 1 to 1.2m square.
How to wrap using a flat swaddle step by step (think: Down Up Down Up)
For another look at how you can swaddle your baby, watch Emma Purdue’s video here: