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Should I Swaddle My Infant? The Pros and Cons of Baby Swaddling.

Updated on September 21, 2016

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 boppy to add to my registry etc. the list of options were and still are endless.

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.

Here goes...

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).

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"

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.

Source

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...

See results

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.


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.

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    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 3 years ago from Florida

      How old is your baby? What have you tried? Does your baby have any health issues IE reflux, tummy troubles, gas?

    • profile image

      TinHinse 3 years ago

      Hello, does any parent have any tips about the most simple method to get their baby to sleep?

      I have read quite a few books with suggestions but I am still struggling.

      Thanks

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 4 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I agree - do it if it works for your baby! It didn't work for our first but it did for our second. Second was a bit early and a pound and a half smaller, so maybe that was part of it (your hub made me think of that!)

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 5 years ago from Florida

      I'm sure there are some infants out there that do not want to be scrunched up anymore.....I however had two little infants that would only sleep for long stretches if they were swaddled 'snug as a bug.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience.

      ~Becky

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting hub. I think swaddling is one of those things that works for some babies, and not for others. I see lots of happily swaddled and content babies. My daughter hated it. She stayed stretched out as much as possible in the womb, and when she was born she wanted to sprawl.

      I kept her swaddled in the hospital and she cried and cried. I thought it was because I was doing something else wrong. As soon as she was unwrapped, she quieted down. We settled on blanket sleepers and she was content. She still won't sleep with any blankets touching her. Even a light blanket will wake her up. :(

      I will definitely try it again with the next baby, because I would hate to think that one needed the security and didn't know how to communicate it. Voting this up and interesting!

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 5 years ago from Florida

      Hi Janine,

      I'm glad you found swaddling to be as helpful as I did. Both my girls had acid reflux so they were a handful (literally). But swaddling sure was a a great thing those nights that we all needed some rest.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Becky

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Very good article on swaddling. I swaddled my second after having my first who had colic and was a very bad sleeper as an I can't. Well, swaddling I do agree made a world of difference and if I ever have more kids who definitely swaddle again. Voted and shared too!

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 5 years ago from Florida

      Hi Brittvann22,

      Thanks for stopping by. I have a few friends who swear it didin't help them either or there babies were able to "break free". Then I have the friends who suffered through without the help of any blankets since they were terrfied of SIDS. I guess I was just lucky in that aspect. Again thanks for stopping by!

      ~Becky

    • brittvan22 profile image

      brittvan22 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Nice hub, I didn't swaddle my daughter. When I did try, she would break out, it was kind of funny, I mean I thought I was doing it wrong, so my cousin, the nurse did it and Maria broke free. She was also premature, but an Aries and definitely had the determination and strength of her grandmother. She didn't have issues sleeping through the night, I attributed that to her strict feeding schedule. Nice hub, welcome to hubpages. Happy Hubbing! Sn I love did a hub on jealousy you might like. See ya around!

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 5 years ago from Florida

      Hi Lisa,

      I forgot to mention the body regulating benefit in there huh? Thanks for bringing it to my attention maybe I should throw it in there as a positive. Anyway....

      I know that swaddling has been around for ages, swaddling in the sense of wrapping baby in a blanket all nice and snuggly. I was refering to the actual blankets that often times have "pockets" if you will and velcro as the swaddling technique/swaddling balnket.

      I tried hard to use regular receiving blankets to swaddle my babies but it never kept the snug enough or was always coming unravelled. The blankets made especially for swaddling are awesome and leave baby hardly any room to manuever his or her way out.

      If I would have used a "regualr" reciving blanket and wrapped baby up tight I'm sure I wouldn't have received the "flack" I did or the comparison to a straight jacket I mentioned. Either way I guess I took the easy way out and purchsed the swaddling blankets opposed to swaddling with a regular receiving blanket (although in a pinch I was able to do it).

      Thanks for stopping by and pointing out the body tempeture regulation point as well as setting me straight about regular receiving blankets working well for some too!!!!!

      ~Becky

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      With three babies (and having taken care of more than that), I've never seen it as an issue at all. With babies, say, three months or under, wrapping a receiving blanket around them (and under their arms) helps keep them from being chilled. If you think about it, if you try to sleep in a room that's a little too chilly for you, you most likely aren't going to sleep. If you feel too warm you most likely won't sleep either and will kick off any covers.

      If a baby is too warm he'll be fussy. If he's too chilled he may not be fussy (but may be) but won't sleep. If he's left in a crib and awake for too long he'll get a) over-tired and b) bored. With newborns, feeling secure really is important; but newborns aren't as great with temperature regulating as older babies are. Newborns don't generally do a lot of moving around anyway, but wrapping a receiving blanket around a baby under "x number" of circumstances doesn't mean he'll never get the chance to kick his legs. Not feeling cold can also help if a baby has "belly pains". (A lot of grown-ups are known to reach for heating pad if they have something like, say, menstrual cramps or even an earache).

      You may have researched the "issue of swaddling", but - really - I think it's pretty much common sense, and I think you used common sense and instinct when you made your choice. You mention the "older generation". I AM the "older generation". My sons are 35 and 30, and my daughter is 27. They were babies who barely ever cried, slept well, and grew into happy, secure, active toddlers. That sense of security doesn't just come from a receiving blanket, though. It also has to come from how securely and surely a mother holds her baby and relates to him.

      With my own babies, once they started moving around a little more (and had been in the world a little longer than that 3 months), I stopped using the receiving blankets (by 4 months). If I suspected the room might have a little chill in it I'd instead put a warmer sleeper on them.