The early stages of a baby’s life are one of the most stressful times for a parent, for they need utmost attention and supervision. If babies are not sleeping, playing, or feeding on their mother’s milk, they cry. This can be hard for parents, given that they also have other things to do aside from attending to their little ones. One of the solutions used for centuries is by swaddling; it is the process of wrapping your infants with a cloth to restrict their movement. But is this old method really beneficial for the babies, and why do babies need to be swaddled?
Benefits of Swaddling a Baby
Reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
According to a study in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2007, one of the positive benefits of swaddling is it reduces the rate of SIDS in infants. The assumption is that swaddling makes it hard for babies to unintentionally cover their faces with beddings and lessens the chance for them to flip over unto their stomachs. Both of these factors have been connected with higher rates of SIDS in infants.
A foundation for soothing
One of the reasons why do babies need to be swaddled becomes a foundation for soothing. Swaddling may not instantly make your infant sleep after you’ve wrapped them in clothes. Sometimes, it can make them more frustrated. However, by swaddling, you have a chance to try other soothing techniques like using pacifiers, carrying them, and using white noise.
Enhances neuromuscular development
It may be our assumption that newborn babies must have their hands free for them to practice their motor skills and figure out how to use their hands. On the contrary, these movements are usually involuntary and random, but by restricting their movements through swaddling they can have better motor skill organization. This method is most effective, especially for premature babies.
This is one of the major problems parents find a difficult time with – the constant crying of their babies. They will always bawl even if you’ve exhausted all the soothing techniques that you know. Good thing, swaddling can reduce the chance of babies crying by 28%. If you add other soothing techniques with swaddling, your infant will surely experience tranquil.
Helps baby sleep better
This may be the most beneficial reason why do babies need to be swaddled – for them to sleep better and longer. This means more time for parents to relax and have time for themselves. When you swaddle a newborn baby, it prevents them from waking themselves with sudden arm movements. Swaddling also stimulates sleep continuity, which means a longer time for you to rest or do your chores. Babies may be infamous for their fractioned sleep, but swaddling can help them settle into long and continuous naps.
Risks of Swaddling a Baby
- Interfere with beginning breastfeeding
After a baby is born, they are usually examined, swaddled for warmth, and eventually handed back to the mother to start breastfeeding. But according to a study, researchers found out that infants who got more skin-to-skin contact with their mothers within the first 2 two hours after they are born took the mother’s breast earlier and sucked better at the first time they are breastfeed compared to the newborns who are swaddled. This is linked to the fact that babies who are not swaddled used their hands to locate the mother’s breast, but those babies who are swaddled are practically blind and could not locate their mom’s breast without help.
- Swaddling may affect a baby’s weight
In connection with the first information, the delay in the baby’s breastfeeding could affect the adequate food intake the baby needs in its first days. Another theory is that the touch or skin-to-skin contact has shown to stimulate the growth of the baby. So, babies getting swaddled may not get the touch it needs for growth.
- Swaddling may affect a baby’s body heat
One of the reasons why do babies need to be swaddled after birth is for them to have warmth and regulate their body temperature. But a study shows that babies who are given time to have contact with their mom after birth stayed warmer after hours compared to babies who are swaddled. Swaddling a baby also can increase the risk of hypothermia wherein the body gets too cold.
- Swaddling may increase the rate of hip dysplasia
When a baby is swaddled, his/her hips and knees are extended. Spending too long in this position can increase the chance of a baby to develop DDH (developmental dysplasia of the hip), a dislocation in the hip of a baby that could lead to reduced mobility, arthritis, and different leg lengths as the baby grows. If a baby is born with DDH, swaddling is not recommended, for it could hasten the effects of DDH. Know more about swaddles.
Why do babies need to be swaddled is one of the questions new parents might have. Swaddling has many good benefits, but parents must also consider the negative effects it may have on their children. Whatever decisions you do for your little one, make sure that you are properly informed and have researched well enough to see which is best for your family.