Imagine this for a second, you’re floating in a warm, secure, dark home and you’re never alone. THEN all of a sudden, you’re in this loud, bright, cold, smelly place where you’re now alone. That transition would be a big transition for any adult, let alone a tiny little baby. By mimicking what it was like for baby in the womb, you can really help ease their transition to the big wide world. One way to ease this transition is through swaddling your baby – helping them feel warm, secure, and have the feeling of touch.
Babies are born with an involuntary motor response called the Moro Reflex (aka the startle reflex). The startle reflex is where a baby involuntarily moves their arms and legs as if they were “startled”. The startle reflex is present for the first 3 months of life and can cause baby to wake from sleep. Swaddling baby can help reduce the baby’s startle reflex by holding them securely. Thus, helping you get a better night’s sleep!!
There are many myths about swaddling, and these can leave new parents confused and scared. So, lets debunk some of these swaddling myths!!
Here are four common myths about swaddling:
Babies don’t like swaddling – This is one of the biggest myths about swaddling!! You hear it all the time “my baby didn’t like being swaddled”. But the truth is all newborn babies like being swaddled as it helps prevent the startle reflex for the first 3 months of life, but not all babies like being swaddled the same way. Meaning it might be the way that you are swaddling baby that they don’t like, or it may be too tight or too loose for them. So, this means that you might need to change it up and try a new technique… which brings us to myth number 2
All babies need to be swaddled a certain way – Nope!!! There really is no right or wrong way to swaddle a baby, as long as you are still adhering to the Red Nose Guidelines for Safe Sleep. Some babies may like to be swaddled with their arms up while other babies like their arms down or by their chest. I always say to new parents, watch all the midwives different swaddling techniques and find the one that works best for your baby!!
Swaddling a baby is uncomfortable for them – Swaddling a baby actually mimics what it was like for the baby in the womb (yes it was super squishy in there!!). By mimicking what it was like in the womb, you can ease the transition between worlds and hopefully increase your sleep. Even better, the Koala Hugs newborn wrap features hidden arm pockets that gently cocoons your baby’s arms to calm the startle reflex and prevent tiny hands from escaping and waking them up.
Swaddling can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS – Every new parent wants to do anything that they can to decrease the risk of SIDS. Swaddling a baby can reduce the risk of SIDS when used correctly in the first 3 months of life. Swaddling your baby helps to keep baby on their back instead of accidentally rolling onto their tummy. A baby that is swaddled correctly may sleep better at night therefore reducing the risk of the parents falling asleep with their baby in their arms or in another unsafe sleeping location.
Please note it is important to not swaddle your baby when they are able to roll.
So swaddle those little babies and help guide them in the transition from the womb to the big wide world, and get a little bit of extra sleep along the way.
Written by Lauren Brenton, @OneMamaMidwife – Clinical Midwifery Specialist and Birth Educator