Swaddling is as old as the hills. The theory is that being wrapped snugly in a sheet or blanket reminds a newborn baby of the cosy confines of the womb, helping to calm and soothe him.
Research suggests swaddled babies sleep more soundly, too, as the wrapping prevents them from waking themselves with their startle reflex during the night. Some studies have even shown that babies who are swaddled at night are more alert and attentive during the day and have a decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Babies are almost always swaddled in the hospital, so you may want to give it a go when you get home – even if it’s just for the first few nights. Here’s how:
- Lay a sheet or thin blanket on a flat surface and fold down the top-right corner about six inches.
- Place your baby on his back with his head on the fold.
- Pull the corner near your baby’s left hand across his body, and tuck the leading edge under his back on the right side under his arm.
- Pull the bottom corner up to just under your baby’s chin.
- Bring the loose corner over your baby’s right arm and tuck it under the back on his left side. If your baby prefers to have his arms free, you can swaddle him under the arms to give him access to his hands and fingers.
Don’t wrap your baby so tightly that it makes it hard for him to breathe, and, never cover your baby’s face. Always use a lightweight blanket to swaddle him – a heavy one could make him too warm, which can increase the risk of SIDS.