"Swaddling is a mama ninja power-tool. With a thin swath of fabric, you can soothe a fussy baby, bring him back to the womb environment he spent his first nine months in, and help him sleep for longer stretches of deeper sleep. All of this is achievable with only one piece of cloth! It’s important to keep in mind though, that swaddling can be a double-edged sword – if done incorrectly, it can lead to safety risks of suffocation, entrapment or SIDS. Safe swaddling is KEY to ensuring a healthy and well-rested baby." - Riki Taubenblat
The art of swaddling takes practice to perfect but we agree with the experts that if done properly, this simple piece of fabric can transform not only your little one's night of sleep but yours as well. We teamed up with pediatric sleep consultant Riki, from Baby Sleep Maven, to learn more about safe swaddling practices.
Below are Riki's top 6 pointers to ensure your baby stays safe and swaddled.
1. Tight on top, loose on the bottom.
Wrap the swaddle tightly across your baby’s upper body as tightly as you can, so that the fabric lies flush against her chest. Any loose fabric can ride up over her face and pose a suffocation risk. On the flip side, you want to make sure that her hips and legs have plenty of wiggle room in the bottom half of your baby’s wrap. Tightly bound legs are a no-no for babies, as it can lead to hip dysplasia, which can allow the hip joint to become dislocated. So remember, tight on the top, loose on the bottom.
2. Fit a hand down the Front.
While you want the top part of the swaddle to be nice and snug, you also want to make sure that your baby has ample breathing room in that wrap. You should be able to squeeze an adult-sized hand down the front of the swaddle near your baby’s neck, as a litmus test for breathing room.
3. Don’t Let Baby Get Too Hot.
Overheating is a risk factor for SIDS, and a swaddle is an additional layer. Always keep your baby’s temperature in mind when putting her down for sleep. The best way to keep a gage on this is to only dress your baby in one more layer than what you are wearing. If you’re wearing an undershirt and a tee, then it’s fine to put your baby in her swaddle with an undershirt and her pajamas. If your house is feeling hot and you’re walking around in an undershirt, then skip your baby’s pajamas and go with a onesie and a thin swaddle blanket. Feel your baby’s cheeks, hair and neck to check if she’s too warm. If her hands and feet are cool, that’s a good sign. Keeping her room between 68-72 degrees is usually comfortable for most babies.
4. Never Place a Swaddled Baby on Her Tummy.
EVER! The Safe Sleep Guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics include laying your baby down to sleep on her back for all sleep times – nights and naps. This rule is magnified tenfold when your baby is swaddled. Why? A swaddled baby has little use of her arms (that’s the point, so she doesn’t smack herself in the face) and a baby who ends up facedown with her face in her mattress can’t rescue herself if her arms are swaddled. Always, always, ALWAYS lay your baby down on her back when she’s swaddled.
5. Keep the Crib Bare.
Your baby’s cribs should be completely empty. I know. That plush pink hippo in the corner of the crib is too cute – but it poses a suffocation risk. You’re best off saving it for tummy time when you can supervise your baby the whole time. Make sure that aside from the swaddle, there are no other blankets, pillows, toys or stuffed animals in your baby’s crib.
6. Stop Swaddling When Your Baby Rolls.
Once your baby starts rolling, it’s time to move on from the swaddle. A swaddled baby who rolls onto her belly can get stuck (remember- her arms are wrapped up!) and will be at risk of suffocation or entrapment. Once your baby starts rolling over on her own, transition her out of the swaddle (click here to read more on that process!) and move her into the next stage sleepwear, like a sleeveless sleep sack or the zip-a-dee zip.
Visit Baby Sleep Maven to learn more about Sleep Training practices!