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Top 5 Reasons to Swaddle Your Newborn Baby

1 - Reduce SIDS
In 2007 the Journal of Pediatrics did a meta-study of research on swaddling. One of the many positive results was that swaddling reduces the rate of SIDS. The current assumption is that swaddling makes it hard for newborn babies to inadvertently cover their heads or face with bedding and decreases their ability to flip over onto their stomachs, both of which have been linked to higher rates of SIDS in newborn babies.

Safety Note: Never put baby to sleep on their stomach. Never EVER put a swaddled baby to sleep on their stomach. If your baby is able to flip from their back to their stomach WHILE swaddled, then your swaddling days are over. Swaddling is only to be used for babies on their backs. Being swaddled while sleeping on their stomach creates a greater risk of SIDS than sleeping on their stomach alone.

2 - Basis for soothing
Swaddling your baby may not immediately soothe your crying baby or lull them instantly to sleep. In fact the process of being swaddled may make them frustrated and thus (briefly) cry more loudly, convincing some parents that their babies “hate” the swaddle. But swaddling creates the foundation for which other soothing techniques (white noise, motion, etc.) build upon. Start with the swaddle and then layer on additional soothing techniques (pacifier, loud white noise, movement) to calm a crying baby and encourage sleep.

3 - Improved neuromuscular development
Many people feel that a newborn needs to have their hands free so that they can practice using their arms, figure out how to get their hands into their mouths so they can self-soothe by sucking on fingers, etc. However most of the movement of your newborn baby’s limbs is actually unintentional and random. Immobilizing their arms actually helps them to develop better motor skill organization. Swaddling is especially helpful for premature babies.

4 - Cry Less
Babies cry regardless of what level of mastery in baby soothing you have achieved or how easily soothed your baby is. However, in addition to helping other soothing techniques to work more effectively (See #4) – swaddling alone seems to result in a 28% reduction in crying.

5 - Sleep Better! Your newborn baby will sleep better and sleep longer if you put them to sleep while swaddled. Swaddling prevents newborn babies from startling themselves awake with random arm movements. And swaddling “stimulates sleep continuity.” This is a quote from the Pediatrics study that is a fancy doctor way of saying that it helps them to sleep longer. While newborns are renowned for their ability to take itty bitty naps all day long, certainly our goal is to help them settle into longer continuous windows of sleep. And swaddling will help them to do that quite effectively!

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Swaddling: A Systematic Review

http://www.happiestbaby.com/wp-content/uploads/files/SwaddlingPeds2007.pdf

ABSTRACT
Swaddling was an almost universal child-care practice before the 18th century. It is still tradition in certain parts of the Middle East and is gaining popularity in the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Netherlands to curb excessive crying. We have systematically reviewed all articles on swaddling to evaluate its possible benefits and disadvantages. In general, swaddled infants arouse less and sleep longer. Preterm infants have shown improved neuromuscular development, less physiologic distress, better motor organization, and more self-regulatory ability when they are swaddled. When compared with massage, excessively crying infants cried less when swaddled, and swaddling can soothe pain in infants. It is supportive in cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome and infants with neonatal cerebral lesions. It can be helpful in regulating temperature but can also cause hyperthermia when misapplied. Another possible adverse effect is an increased risk of the development of hip dysplasia, which is related to swaddling with the legs in extension and adduction. Although swaddling promotes the favorable supine position, the combination of swaddling with prone position increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, which makes it necessary to warn parents to stop swaddling if infants attempt to turn. There is some evidence that there is a higher risk of respiratory infections related to the tightness of swaddling. Furthermore, swaddling does not influence rickets onset or bone properties. Swaddling immediately after birth can cause delayed postnatal weight gain under certain conditions, but does not seem to influence breastfeeding parameters.