Should I Swaddle My Infant? The Pros and Cons of Baby Swaddling.
Baby Swaddling: A Touchy Subject
When I had my first child I did tons of research on everything including but in no way limited to what bottles to use, what shampoos were considered the safest (although this is forever changing), what stroller was the easiest to handle, what crib set to buy, what to add to my registry etc. the list of options were and still are endless. boppy
The hours of research were mind numbing yet informative.
However there one was topic that was controversial to many of my "friends" who either had children (opinions accepted), didn't have children (opinions acknowledged) and those who just knew it all (opinions rejected) that was the topic of baby swaddling.
How To Swaddle Your Infant
The Theory of Baby Swaddling
The theory behind baby swaddling is simple, the infant spends roughly 9 months inside of the mothers stomach all warm and cuddled up in what is known as the fetal position. Since the infant has "boundaries" inside the womb the infant feels safe and sound.
This is the same feeling a baby associates with being held after birth; safe, cuddled and content. The swaddle blanket technique is used to mimic being held as well as give the infant secure boundaries.
Why Do Babies Need Boundaries After Birth?
Surely there ready to stretch out?
Good question, I was surprised to learn this myself.
When infants are born their brains are firing at rapid speeds; their breathing for the first time, often crying, and have the ability to sense a whole new atmosphere.
Their little nervous systems are underdeveloped and they are no longer in a tight confined space.
They now have the ability to move "freely" which should be a good thing. And it is, once the infant becomes "adjusted" to life outside the womb (this seems to take place somewhere around 8-12 weeks of age).
Infant Sleep Patterns
- Why Does My Newborn Baby Twitch While Sleeping? | eHow.com
Why Does My Newborn Baby Twitch While Sleeping?
- 8 Infant Sleep Facts Every Parent Should Know | Ask Dr. Sears®
- To Cry it Out or Not to Cry it Out?
Is the cry it out method safe?
Another Positive Of Baby Swaddling
Since infants tend to make "jerky" movements or "flail" while getting accustomed to the way their bodies work the swaddle blanket does not allow this "freedom".
This is another plus for the swaddle technique since the infant is unable to startle themselves awake while sleeping.
If you've ever witnessed a newly born infant sleeping you can often see these "jerky" movements being made and sometimes these movements can wake up a peacefully sleeping infant (something no new parent wants).
The naysayers argue that the infant is to confined and should be learning from day one how to adjust to their new limitless boundaries.
"The infant should be allowed to stretch out and still feel safe."
They (the naysayers) compared the swaddle blanket technique to that of a straight jacket.
I still had a hard time understanding the naysayer's logic simply because most people who need a straight jacket are not straight out of the womb.
The Happiest Baby on the Block
Ever Seen a Sleeping Infant?
A newborn sleeping is often "scrunched" up regardless so I still was not understanding the points they were effortlessly trying to make.
After all if my infant wants to be scrunched up in what looks like the most uncomfortable position ever, so be it.
Are they sleeping?
Are mommy and daddy able to sleep too?
These are the only two things I was concerned with.
If my child grows up and finds pictures of themselves swaddled and associates swaddling with a traumatic childhood experience I'll deal with it then.
As a soon to be new parent my gut was telling me full speed ahead; swaddling here we come.
To Swaddle or Not to Swaddle?
That is the question...
Don't Get Me Wrong....
I am not saying put your infant in a swaddle blanket all day long from birth till their 18th birthday.
As your infant starts to become adjusted to life outside of the womb the swaddle blanket becomes less and less of a necessity.
Of course when your infant is awake let them flail and utilize there new limbs, let them experience freedom and all that good stuff.
However when it's time for bed the swaddle blanket is a MUST in my book.
More From This Author
My Personal Experiencce with Baby Swaddling
My own personal experience with the swaddle blanket or swaddling technique was amazing times two; both my children were swaddled from day one.
Something even more interesting is that both my daughters slept through the night (5-6 hour stretches) from 6 weeks on. I can't help but attribute their great sleeping habits as infants to that of the swaddle blanket.
I can tell you that both my children were born a little early (one at 39 weeks the other at 36 weeks) and the swaddle blanket may have helped those first few weeks as they were still "entitled" to boundaries by birth rights. However they were both swaddled up until the "large" swaddle blanket no longer fit them (S, M, L) this was about 8-10 weeks old.
I did get many comments about how it was cruel and the older generation certainly was not "keen" on the idea but they were not trying to develop good sleeping habits with a newborn; now where they?
I took the "naysayers" in stride and politely reminded them that they had raised their children and I was causing no physical harm to MY child.