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5 Reasons Not to Swaddle Newborns

Updated on October 8, 2017

Welcome guest writer, Sarah Butland.

Being bound and forced to be motionless doesn’t sound fun to me. I love a good hug, of course, but if it’s a constant wrapping of my body so I can’t even scratch an itch I get panicky, and I’m sure you’ve been known to as well. So why we are taught on the first day of having a newborn how to swaddle them in a blanket puzzles me.

Yes, babies need to be warm and cannot voice their concern, they also need to be protected but they are human and need to figure out their bodies, too. Let them by encouraging small movements and games that involve touch and explanations.

#1 You Want To Encourage Movement

Being active and strengthening muscles can and should start early in life. Binding a baby up doesn’t protect them, it encourages them not to move or exercise so can hinder their development. Newborns aren’t going far or fast so you have plenty of time to protect them if they do wiggle towards a dangerous place.

#2 Their Comfort

A main reason new parent’s think their child should be wrapped in a blanket is warmth but they can be warm without being still. If the temperature of the room is comfortable for you it’s likely they are very comfortable, too. And if they get a chill without a blanket trap they can do what we do and move or pull up the blanket that’s beside them. We have all heard of and fear hypothermia, the concern of being too cold, but hyperthermia is just as frightening as it could mean overheating and not giving your child the option of tossing the blanket when too warm is not something I would encourage.

#3 They Are Curious

Let your baby explore and discover themselves. With their arms stuck in a wrap they don’t have the freedom to touch the stuffed animal you were so eager to get for them because of how it feels. We often buy toys or blankets because of how soft they feel but if the child can’t touch it what is the use?

#4 Their Health

If your child has acid reflux, which is quite common, and you’ve laid them on their back swaddled tightly in their blanket what are they going to do? Wiggling in place is not going to benefit them and they won’t be able to turn to their side so their only protection is being able to move their head at just the right angle. Help them have options by letting them free.

#5 It’s Unnatural

We all have our favourite sleeping positions and it is rare it would be on your back, arms tight to your sides and your legs tight together. While we sleep we want the most comfort to get the best sleep and if you tightly swaddle your little one you are forcing discomfort and this may, in turn, encourage sleep deprivation in you and your baby.

The Struggles of Parenting

Parenting is never easy no matter how prepared you think you are and how many children you already have. We all try to make the right decision for our own child and family while we worry constantly that we are not keeping up or doing the best for our child.

Conflicting advice is definitely overwhelming and we just all want to do our best. I encourage you to research, ask around and then make your own decision and be confident in that. As long as you are not harming your child you are probably doing the best for your entire family and that’s what we all need to see.


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    • peachpurple profile image


      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      when I gave birth to both my babies, my mother in law swaddled them so thick that they perspired, yet she told me it was natural!!!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Interesting perspective.


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