When your newborn baby is placed into your arms for the first time, you will notice that he is wrapped very snugly. This is called swaddling: age-old art of wrapping your baby up just tightly enough to make him feel secure and safe. It’s thought that it reminds babies of the cozy environment of their mummies’ wombs and comforts them.
Parents who regularly swaddle their baby have found that this slight pressure helps to comfort even the fussiest of babies. Swaddling your little one helps them to get comfortable quickly, and prevents them from getting startled by their own still uncontrollable reflexes.
How to swaddle your new born baby correctly
The art of swaddling your little one is actually harder than it looks. Hospital nurses only make it look effortless because the have lots of experience behind them. Practise will ensure that you do it right. A thin, cotton blanket is the first thing you’ll need; blankets that are too thick will only hamper you. Take care; if you swaddle your baby too tightly with his legs in a straight position, you can encourage the onset of hip dysplasia, so make sure that there is enough room for him to bend his legs.
- Spread a thin swaddling blanket flat in a diamond shape and fold the top two corners down about 15 centimetres (6 inches) to form a straight edge.
- Lay your baby down on his back so that his neck rests against the folded part
- Bring your baby’s one arm down, and pull the corner of the blanket near that arm over the arm and chest, and tuck the edge under his back on the other side.
- Bring the remaining bottom corner of the blanket up over his feet, and tuck it in over the other arm inside the blanket near his chest, or alternatively take it over and tuck it in behind his back on the other side
- Fold the bottom end of the blanket loosely behind your baby, but make sure that it is smooth and free of knots. Ensure that there is enough room so that his hips and legs can move and spread apart naturally.
Take caution when swaddling your baby
If you experience problems with swaddling your little one, you can also consider buying a special swaddling blanket, complete with Velcro flaps to make things a little easier. Swaddling was not intended as a method to keep your baby warm but to make him feel secure, so do not wrap the blanket too tightly.
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You do not want to risk cutting your baby’s circulation off. Some parents will notice their baby wants have his arms free. In this case, you can just swaddle your baby under the arms instead of over it. You can consider stopping swaddling your little one when he is about a month or two old. It is fine to keep him swaddled while he sleeps at night if it seems to appease him. But at some point, he will start to kick and cry for more freedom and mobility — and you’ll know when he feels safe enough in his new environment!
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