Swaddling is a practice that has been in prevalence since the earliest human civilizations. It is the practice of wrapping infants tightly and snugly in fabric in order to restrict their movements. Swaddling has seen a rise in popularity after many centuries of absence.
Swaddling is the art of snugly wrapping your baby in a baby blanket so that the baby can feel the same sense of warmth and security as he felt in your womb. In the initial days after birth, the baby gets disturbed by his own startle reflux, and swaddling calms him. Swaddling also helps to soothe a baby who is over-stimulated and helps him feel the same security as when he was inside your womb. It also helps the baby to keep warm until internal thermostat starts working. Most hospitals nowadays give a lesson or two on swaddling, and the nurses are more than willing to teach the technique. If you choose to use the technique, make sure you know how to do it correctly.
If you do want to swaddle your baby, you must do it right. Improper swaddling techniques can loosen the joints and cause problems in the hips. Also, you must not do this if your baby resists swaddling by kicking in and about. Some babies like to have their hands free when swaddled, so pay attention to the cues your little one is giving you.
Perhaps the most important advantage of swaddling is the fact that it helps to protect small, fragile bodies from cold. It is a way of assuring that the baby remains comfortable, since the baby is made to feel as if he is still in the womb. He feels secure and cozy, and this familiar feeling soothes him a great deal. Specialists even believe that swaddling helps a baby to sleep. There are sections of doctors who believe that swaddling helps avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, a leading cause of death in infants.
However, many are of the opinion that restricting the movement of infants is not a good idea. There may be significant health consequences of keeping a baby so tightly wrapped during the initial stages. Swaddling, if carried out for long periods of time is known to result in a condition called hip dysplasia. At times, it may even lead to impeded physical development. It is advised to always ensure that there is enough room for the baby to kick in and about, and at the same time the baby fits in cosily and tightly.
Modern day swaddling practices differ significantly from the historical forms through their use of cotton fabric and scientific procedures. Modern day swaddles are manufactured by every brand of baby care. These are Y or T shape fabrics and many a times come with straps. At times, even a square blanket can be used, provided the material is comfortable. The procedure of swaddling a baby is simple. However, there are certain things you need to keep in mind while swaddling your baby. These have been described below.
If carried out in a proper manner, swaddling can be beneficial for the baby. The renewed popularity can be seen as a testimony to this fact. However, swaddling should be carried out for at most 1-2 months after the baby is born. Beyond this period, a baby needs to be able to move freely and any such restriction can hamper the baby’s physical growth.
Swaddling a baby in summers can be difficult, as you do not want to overheat your baby. Since a overheated baby is more prone to SIDS, hence swaddling a summer baby would require the right combination of temperature, clothing, bedding and the wrapping. A fabric like light cotton would be good enough and the room temperature should be between 23 degrees and 27 degrees Celsius. If you are using a wrap, opt for muslin, bamboo or cotton wraps. Avoid synthetic fibers as they can make your baby over heat.
Once your baby is a month old, swaddling should not be done when he is awake as it can make it difficult for the baby to move his arms and legs thus impacting mobility. Though, it is alright to swaddle the baby for naps and night time if he feels comforted that way. However. once the baby is 2 months of age, swaddling should be discontinued. If a baby is still swaddled, care should be taken that the baby is on her back and does not roll over accidentally.
Evidences for swaddling can be found in paintings and artifacts that date more than 4000 years. It was perhaps in Europe that the practice was particularly common. There are evidences that the Greeks and the Romans swaddled their infants. Even Latin American tribes were known to swaddle their babies. In ancient times, the practice was associated with rigid rituals and ceremonies.