The decision of whether to swaddle or not isn’t exactly life or death, but it can still cause angst among parents, especially when everyone has different ideas, opinions and preferences. The decision may not even end up being yours because some babies have a very strong preference one way or the other.
I am pro swaddle. It is my experience (both with my own children and the babies at work) that the majority of babies don’t just like being wrapped, they NEED to be wrapped. Think about it. Their whole experience of the world for the 9 months they have been living and growing, has been a very small, dark, warm, loving, confined space in which they are rocked to sleep while their mother goes about her day. Suddenly they are thrust out into the big wide world and they no longer know how to go to sleep without their previous comfortable environment. It’s no wonder babies love being wrapped and cuddled and rocked to sleep. It’s all they know.
Of course there is always the exception. Some babies will wriggle and wriggle until they set themselves free. Some just love having their arms up around their head. Whatever you choose, you will come up against well meaning friends and relatives telling you the benefits of their method, especially when your baby is unsettled (it doesn’t matter to them that the reason the baby is unsettled may be totally unrelated to swaddling preference). Stay strong. You ABSOLUTELY know your baby better than anyone else.
There is another factor to consider when thinking about swaddling. Body temperature. Babies have an underdeveloped hypothalamus which means they can’t regulate their body temperature very well. Loosing heat can affect a baby’s metabolism and blood glucose levels. Extreme cases of low body temperature can cause brain damage. Overheating is also very serious and is one of the known causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Therefore, great caution needs to be taken when considering what to use to clothe and cover your baby.
In the last few years there has been so many developments in designs for wraps. Here are just a few baby swaddling products to make your life easy:
Wrap Me Up – by Love Me Baby
This is my favourite swaddling product. You don’t have to learn any tricky wrapping techniques, you just do up the zip. Easy for any other carers to follow your swaddling method. Breathable fabric, babies can wear nothing underneath in summer and you can layer more clothes underneath in winter. The design allows for babies to have their hands in the natural “up” position. You can keep baby’s arms wrapped during a nappy change as the zip opens from both ends. Only bad things are that it’s expensive (around $30) and you have to buy different sizes as they grow.
Similar to the Wrap Me Up but doesn’t have a two way zip or space for “hands up” position.
Good for babies who don’t like being wrapped or older children. Temperature rated and comes in different weights and sizes so you know what to dress babies in at specific temperatures.
Lil’ Fraser wrap
My favourite non-shaped wrap. Extra large so it fits until babies no longer require swaddling. Cotton Lycra fabric is so stretchy they can’t wriggle out of it but it does become misshapen with use (only an aesthetic problem as it still functions perfectly). Quite expensive for what it is ($20-30 each).
Cheap, breathable, versatile. Outgrown quickly as most wraps are 90cm x 90cm. Can be used for other purposes such as chuck cloth, breastfeeding privacy and cloth nappying.
Shaped with velcro wrap makes swaddling easy but not as easy as Wrap Me Up or Woombie. Comes in different sizes but the small was too small for Arlo even when he was only one week old.
Happy swaddling… Or not