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What does swaddling mean? / FAQs / Pregnancy information from midwivesonline.com

What does swaddling mean?

Swaddling is an old practice of wrapping a baby snugly in cloths or blankets so that movement of the limbs is restricted.

Many midwives swaddle infants soon after birth and it is now a standard newborn care practice in many hospitals. People swaddle in different ways, using different weight materials. It advised that the baby’s arms should be left out when swaddling. If you swaddle your baby, don’t cover the head and only use thin materials for safety. Keep a very close eye on baby if you are swaddling, so that there is no over heating. Make sure you can get your fingers between the swaddle layer and that of your babies body.

Some medical studies suggest that swaddling appears to enhance neuromuscular development of the very low birth weight infant and that it might have a role in further lowering Sudden Infant Death Syndrome risk1. This is thought to be due to the position baby’s are placed in. Research has also found that swaddling may helps sleeping as there are fewer awakenings. Swaddling can help your newborn to sleep undisturbed, by preventing the 'moro reflex', which is the tendency for newborns to startle themselves by suddenly moving their arms. Swaddling may also help ease the discomfort of colic in the early weeks.

Talk to your midwife and Health Visitor for advice.

1Franco P, Scaillet S, Groswasser J, Kahn A., Increased cardiac autonomic responses to auditory challenges in swaddled infants, Sleep, December 2004

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