Here’s everything you need to know about swaddling a baby, and why you should.
Hint: it’s not so your baby will look like the world’s most adorable burrito (although that is a perk).
If you’re expecting, you’ve probably already added that pretty swaddle blanket to your registry. If this isn’t your first baby, you might be brushing up on your swaddling skills. Your mother probably swaddled you as a baby, just like her mother did when she was a baby. Swaddling is actually one of the oldest baby care practices in the world, dating back thousands of years. Swaddling is still recommended by most doctors today. In fact, one of the first things your maternity nurses will do after you give birth is swaddle your newborn baby.
But even though you have, or are planning to swaddle your baby…do you actually know why? There are many benefits of swaddling a baby, which is why the practice is so widely used. Although swaddling is not required, and some babies calm well without being swaddled at all, for most babies swaddling is the key to lessening fussiness.
Babies are swaddled as soon as they’re born. After spending nine months in the womb, their newfound freedom can be a tad bit overwhelming. Bundling them tightly actually recreates the feeling and security of being in the womb. In fact, in the first couple months, you might find that your baby is swaddled more often than not – and that’s totally okay. If swaddling helps to keep your newborn calm, then the American Academy of Pediatrics says it’s acceptable to swaddle your baby for 12 to 20 hours of the day. After all, for the last 39 weeks your little one was bundled up 24/7 in your belly.
Swaddling a baby is a great soothing technique. In addition to things like sucking, shushing, white noise, and rocking or movement, swaddling is a great way to help calm your baby as part of a sleep routine. Although some babies might fight being swaddling when you first wrap them, they most likely just don’t like the process of being swaddled. They should only cry or fuss briefly, before calming down. The snugness of swaddling gives them the security of the womb while helping them settle down when overstimulated. If your baby is really resisting being swaddled, try swaddling them with their arms out instead; some babies simply prefer this.
Swaddling a baby also helps keep them nice and toasty. In their first few days of life, your newborn’s internal thermostat needs time to adjust to its new environment. Swaddling helps keep your baby warm while their bodies learn to regulate their own temperature. That’s why we’ve carefully chosen cozy, breathable fabrics to make our Zen Swaddle and Zen Sack.
Our classic line is 100% cotton, which is super soft and more breathable than other fabrics like polyester. Our premier line is 70% bamboo and 30% cotton. Bamboo is actually a self-regulating fabric, meaning its moisture-wicking properties help your body from getting too hot or cold, so it will keep your baby warm, but won’t cause them to overheat (which can cause an increased risk of SIDS). Also to prevent overheating, you should be keeping your baby’s room at a comfortable temperature of 65 to 70 F and avoid over-bundling with layers. After being swaddled, your baby’s skin should feel comfortable to touch and not too warm.
Prevention of SIDS is actually another reason to for choosing to swaddle a baby as it forces you to place your baby in supine position, on their back. Swaddling in the supine position, sleeping on the back, is seen to reduce the risk of SIDS because an immobilized infant won’t be able to move or roll into a dangerous and potentially asphyxiating (that compromises normal breathing) environment. Also, swaddling prevents infants from pulling bedding or clothing over their heads by keeping their arms snug against their bodies. Still, it’s important to keep any loose bedding or clothing out of your baby’s crib to further reduce this risk. You can learn more about swaddling and SIDS here. You should also stop swaddling them the baby starts to roll. You can learn when to stop swaddling on this link.
So you’ve probably heard of SIDS before, but have you ever heard of Moro-reflex? Perhaps you’ve heard it been called “startle reflex”? It’s a reflex that babies are born with and experience until about 6 months, that causes them to literally startle themselves. First, they experience a sensation of free falling that causes them to lift or stretch their arms or legs and even gasp. This can be especially troubling during sleep, because the falling sensation and movement will cause your baby to wake up.
Swaddling your baby helps combat this reflex because it keeps your baby’s arms bundled against their body- so when they experience that falling sensation, they can’t lift or stretch them and will stay asleep. This is a common reason why some infants that might not need to be swaddled to calm down, will still sleep better while swaddled. While swaddled, there’s a better chance that your baby won’t fully awaken when roused.
With the Zen Swaddle, the gently weighted pads on the chest and sides help your baby to sleep better and longer than a traditional swaddle. While any swaddle helps to recreate the security of the womb, the Zen Swaddle is the only swaddle that will recreate the comfort and security of your arms and embrace. Although nothing can compare to the real thing, parents can’t be expected to hold and cradle their baby for 24 hours a day – you need your sleep too, after all. So for those times when you can’t be holding your baby, the Zen Swaddle provides a little extra, gentle pressure that actually mimics your touch. This will help your little one calm easier and stay asleep longer.
While there are many benefits of swaddling, unfortunately, you can’t swaddle your baby forever. The time frame will be different for every baby, but once your baby starts to roll over, it’s time to ditch the swaddle. You can read more about learning when to stop swaddling here. Luckily, you don’t have to quit cold-turkey. Our swaddle transition plan shows you everything you need to know on how to stop swaddling and transition into our Zen Sack…without losing sleep. Our Zen Sack will give your baby’s arms and legs some freedom, but still provide the reassuring pressure of your touch with a lightly weighted center.
If you’re worried about learning how to swaddle your baby safely and correctly, you’ll probably get a crash course on how-to-swaddle before bringing baby home from the hospital. However, all the folding and wrapping can be pretty tricky- which is why we decided to take the complicated parts out. With the Zen Swaddle, you simply place your baby’s legs in the pouch, bring the flap (with the gently weighted parts in the center and the sides) over their chest, and wrap the wings securely across their body and around their arms. This video shows you how to get the perfect wrap. Here’s all the do’s and don’ts you need to know:
Do get a snug, tight fit. You want your baby’s arms to be held closely to their body, and the swaddle should be tight enough that your little one can’t wriggle their arms out or loosen the fabric. The Zen Swaddles super strong Velcro makes getting a tight fit easy.
Don’t let any fabric (of the swaddle or otherwise) cover your baby’s mouth or face. A loose swaddle or loose bedding creates an unsafe sleep environment and can contribute to SIDS.
Do listen to your baby. Your baby will tell you when they are uncomfortable in some way. Whether that means they’re getting to hot or wants their arms free. To make sure your baby doesn’t overheat, check their temperature frequently and use breathable, light materials for swaddling (like cotton or bamboo). Some babies also prefer to have their arms out – that doesn’t mean you need to give up on swaddling all together. It’s perfectly fine to swaddle with one or both arms out.
Don’t wrap your baby’s legs. Although you want your baby’s arms to be held close to their body, their legs should have enough room to bend and flex. This will prevent the risk of developing hip problems.
Do incorporate swaddling as part of your bedtime or nap time routine. With consistent use as part of this routine, swaddling will become one of your baby’s cues that it’s time to sleep. Plus, swaddling will help your baby settle after being overstimulated and calm them before putting them down to sleep.
Don’t swaddle once your baby starts showing signs of rolling over. Once they start rolling over, your baby’s arms need to be able to move. Luckily, at this point you can switch to the Zen Sack, which lets their arms be free. Plus, for tummy sleepers, the Zen Sack can be worn backwards.
With so many benefits of swaddling, plus the added bonus of your baby looking adorable bundled up in our pretty prints, it’s easy to understand why it’s recommended. Plus, the Zen Swaddle makes swaddling as easy as 1-2-3. Designed with “Mom in mind. Kids at heart” the Zen Swaddle is safe, easy, and more effective than traditional square blanket swaddles. If you’re expecting a new arrival soon, get your Zen Swaddle now and experience less sleepless nights once baby is here. If your baby is already a few weeks old- it’s not too late! Although many parents swaddle right from the get-go, you can always start swaddling when your baby is a bit older. And of course, the Nested Bean team is always here to help. If you have any questions about the Zen Swaddle, or swaddling in general, don’t be afraid to ask. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.