Is there anything sweeter than a tiny baby burrito? A snuggly, swaddled babe sleeps better, but there is a right and wrong way to wrap your bub. To help, we’ve put together all the information parents need to know on how to swaddle a baby the correct way, to protect their growing bodies and keep them safe.
Here’s our handy guide to safe swaddling.
Is it safe to swaddle?
The reason most maternity health professionals recommend swaddling is to help babies adjust to life outside the womb. Keeping their little arms from flailing, which is known as the ‘startle reflex’, can stop babies from waking themselves.
Red Nose (formerly SIDS and Kids) says wrapping can also help keep babies in the recommended back position during sleep. The organisation explains there are some clear guidelines to follow when swaddling your baby:
- Make sure your baby is on their back, with their feet at the bottom of the cot.
- Ensure your baby is wrapped from below the neck – their face should never be covered.
- Use lightweight wraps, like cotton or muslin – blankets can cause overheating.
- You should make sure the swaddle is wrapped firmly, but not tightly. Loose wrapping could lead to your baby’s face becoming covered.
- Don’t overdress your baby under the wrap – just a nappy and singlet in warm weather and a lightweight grow suit in cooler weather is enough.
- Once your baby outgrows the startle reflex, at about three months, leave their arms free.
- Stop wrapping once your baby begins showing signs they are ready to roll over.
- Don’t wrap a baby if they are sharing a sleep surface with another person.
- Do not wrap a baby and then put them in a sleeping bag.
What impact does swaddling have on hip development?
In a recent survey of Australians, more than half admitted to never having heard of hip dysplasia. Yet, one in 50 Aussie babies is being treated for the condition.
It can mean months or years of medical treatment for children because the ball and socket of their hips don’t fit together. Healthy Hips Australia recommends that every baby has their hips checked at birth, then at six weeks, six months and 12 months old.
Sarah Twomey’s two beautiful daughters had hip dysplasia, prompting her to set up Healthy Hips Australia.
“At just three weeks of age, Eve was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. She spent 10 months, 23-hours a day, in a full body harness followed by a hip brace,” Sarah tells Mum’s Grapevine.
“Just before her first birthday, Eve was allowed to go brace-free during the day.”
She says Eve, now 5, still has yearly reviews with an orthopaedic surgeon to monitor the development of her hips.
How to safely swaddle a baby
Healthy Hips Australia recommends the following safe swaddling methods:
Diamond: Secure the baby’s arms individually. Twist the bottom of the wrap loosely so the legs are free to move within a sack, and tuck under your baby.
Square: Secure the arms individually. Fold up the bottom of the wrap loosely over the chest, to create a pouch for free leg movement, then tuck under your baby.
Sleep sack or pouch: Select those designed for free leg movement.
This video shows how to swaddle baby the right way. More information on safe swaddling can be found at Healthy Hips Australia.
Read next …
Now that you know how to swaddle babe correctly, think about what type of swaddle will suit baby’s needs. Here are a few articles to help get you started: