Most parents I know, including myself, swaddled their babies when they were first born. Even if we knew nothing about swaddling before giving birth, we were all pretty much experts once we left the hospital. After all, by that point, we've just witnessed various nurses swiftly wrap our little ones up into tiny baby burritos about a dozen times.
Most babies seem to like being swaddled, as it supposedly mimics the aspect of the womb that's all warm and tight and cozy. Others? Not so much. And that's fine! There's no rule that says newborns need to be swaddled. But. If you are going to join the League of Swaddlers, please follow these 6 safety precautions.
1. Don't swaddle too loose -- especially at night. Although rare, there have been cases where a too-loose blanket has unwound and baby has suffocated. You want your baby to be snug. But that said ...
2. Don't swaddle too tight. Most of us have read Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block, where he touts a cozy swaddle as one of the most important of his crucial "Five S's." And while many babies do seem to like being wrapped up tightly, you don't want to go too tight on the lower part of their body, as it could cause serious hip problems. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute recommends that baby's legs should be able to bend up and out at the hips.
3. Try a SleepSack Swaddle instead of a blanket. Those aden + anais blankets are amazing for swaddling (in addition to a million other things), but to guarantee you're safely swaddling your infant, try a SleepSlack Swaddle, which lets you swaddle the baby's arms down while keeping the legs free.
4. Don't let your newborn overheat. Use your judgment. If it's warm in your house, don't put the baby in long, heavy pajamas and swaddle them (or "double swaddle") for obvious reasons. Also, use blankets made for swaddling. Swaddling an infant in a thick blanket isn't a good idea.
5. Don't keep your baby in a swaddle all day long. Even though you're giving his legs kicking room in his swaddles (right?), give him some time to move his arms around a bit, too. When he's calm and awake, let him go free!
6. If you're still swaddling by the time your baby can roll over, you might want to stop. Most people swaddle for between 1 to 3 months, but if you decide to swaddle longer (which Dr. Karp says is okay!), consult with a pediatrician when your little one learns to roll over. Small babies shouldn't sleep with anything in their cribs -- and if they can roll over, they'll likely undo their swaddle. Which would mean they're sleeping with a blanket.
Do you have any tips to add to the list?
Images via Nicole Fabian-Weber/Julia Smith/Corbis