Widely known as a trusted method for easing the transition between womb and world, swaddling recreates the secure and cozy feeling of the womb. Less often discussed is the fundamental need for babies to experience touch, and the ability for the soft pressure of a swaddle to mimic that sensation. Some touch therapists say that swaddling can help develop an infant’s tactile system so they become comfortable with being touched, which is key to healthy development.
On a neurological level, intimate contact activates and reinforces a self-soothing response that decreases stress by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol concentrations. What this means for your baby is longer, more restful sleep with fewer disturbances. Swaddled infants tend to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep more consistently throughout the night.
More sleep for baby means more rest for parents, and a generally less sleep-deprived household in those first few challenging months.
Do you remember the last time you felt a disturbing plummeting sensation just as you were falling asleep? Babies experience it all the time as a facet of normal neurological development. While the presence of the Moro reflex is an indication of a healthy infant, its effects can become distressing if your baby’s sleep is disturbed too often by the involuntary movements that it triggers. Luckily, swaddling babies prevents those spontaneous movements from waking them, allowing for a much more peaceful night's sleep.
Colic is one of the most frustrating challenges parents face in their child’s first few months. Considered a result of bacterial imbalance or incomplete gastro-intestinal development, Colic is accompanied by seemingly inexplicable and inconsolable crying. The colicky baby’s complaint does in fact have a simple explanation: they’re experiencing extreme pain. The light pressure of a swaddle blanket can have a tremendously therapeutic effect on a child suffering from colic, providing much needed relief for parents and baby alike.
A number of false claims about “double swaddling” have been circulating within parenting circles, promoting the practice as a benefit to newborns and infants. In fact, double swaddling poses serious danger, increasing the incidents of overheating and SIDS.
While double swaddling is an absolute no-no, appropriately using a single, high-quality swaddle helps to maintain the optimal temperature for a baby’s body. Newborns, still adjusting to life outside the womb, are unable to regulate their body temperature on their own. Breathable, moisture-wicking muslin swaddles keep your baby all warm and toasty without the danger of overheating.
Loose blankets in your baby’s crib pose a serious threat to their well-being, increasing chances of nighttime suffocation. With their arms constrained, babies are prevented from pulling bedding and clothing over their faces (though you should aim to keep loose bedding out of the crib entirely). When properly swaddled, babies have everything they need to stay warm without the danger of suffocation hazards.
The American Association of Pediatrics further extols the safety benefits of swaddling, noting that swaddles help to maintain the supine position during sleep. Conventional wisdom says that, in the interest of preventing SIDS, babies should always sleep on their backs, and never on their stomach or side. For a swaddled baby incapable of rolling over, the risk of SIDS diminishes. A swaddled baby is a safer baby.
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