Swaddling has been practiced in many civilizations for centuries. But is it always good to swaddle your baby? At what age can you do it? What are the benefits and techniques? A doula and a midwife take stock of this subject.
When it comes to newborn care, many practices are likely to evolve over time, thanks to scientific knowledge. Today, breastfeeding is done on demand, free motor skills are advocated, as well as skin-to-skin contact. As for the baby’s sleep, sleeping on the back has become the rule to respect. But what about swaddling, which is supposed to soothe babies? According to Pilar Izquierdo Herliy, doula, “it is still practiced in Europe, by young parents wishing to do so, and is even used in certain maternity wards, from birth”.
Definition of Swaddling
“It is a very old practice used in many civilizations (Africa, Asia, South America, etc.) which consists of wrapping a newborn in a diaper. This allows him to be contained and rediscover the sensations of intrauterine life.“, explains the doula, before adding, “it is also used to calm an agitated baby or as part of a wrapped bath“.
A point of view shared by Nicolas Dutriaux, midwife: “We find it in many cultures, in all climates and at all times”.
Is it essential to swaddle your baby?
However, this tool is not suitable for all babies or all parents.. Some like it, others don’t. So there is no question of forcing things if the baby does not benefit from it or if the adult is not comfortable. “We must also keep in mind that it is a complementary tool, which should not replace carrying, skin to skin or cuddling, and which requires listening to your child. Finally, before trying to swaddle your baby, you must ensure that his needs are met: he is not hungry, his diaper is clean, he is not sick“, says Pilar Izquierdo Herliy.
For Nicolas Dutriaux, it is also important to assess the pain of the newbornbefore any swaddling attempt: “In addition to crying, facial expressions such as a wrinkled forehead and agitation of the limbs and withdrawal movements when you want to touch the presumed painful area” are all manifestations to take into account.
For their part, many people wonder: is it okay to swaddle a baby? Explanations.
What are the benefits of swaddling?
For the doula and the midwife, there are many:
Calm and soothe baby
Indeed, gThanks to swaddling, a restless baby will be able to feel reassured and soothed because he has the feeling of being more contained. He feels safe and is more aware of his physical limits. “You have to project yourself into your in-utero environment to understand it: all your movements were contained and gave you a tactile perception (the amniotic fluid in which you bathe, the cord, the walls of the uterus). The first days, even the first weeks, must therefore be accompanied by a gradual entry into free mobility.”specifies the midwife.
Parental experience and a scientific study published in 2011 showed that swaddling helps some babies fall asleep better and for longer. It would also prevent startles, like the Moro reflex, likely to wake the newborn while he is sleeping. “However, it is important to have a good understanding of the newborn’s sleep phases, generally explained during preparation for birth and taken up by professionals – particularly in “real life” when the midwife or a midwife visits the home. support by a childcare worker”nuance Nicolas Dutriaux.
It would also help relieve some babies suffering from colic. For her part, the midwife specifies: “there are no studies on this specific point and existing studies on pain in general are not significant in terms of their demonstration of a reduction in pain thresholds. However, the slight heat provided to the stomach can improve intestinal contractions and therefore reduce discomfort. Another solution for this point is to place a vest “inside out” by closing it on the back of the newborn rather than in the front..
For premature and small babies
This tool can also be used by health professionals in maternity wards for certain premature or low birth weight babies. “It is in fact used in neonatal intensive care units.confirms the midwife.
A feeling of calm
When feeding, if you have difficulty finding a good position to allow your child to latch on effectively, swaddling is an option. Or when the child needs treatment, such as a blood test.
Swaddling: up to what age?
This is, in fact, one of the areas of concern for curious parents. For the doula, “Swaddling can be done from birth until the infant attempts to roll onto its side, which could cause the fabric to come undone and therefore the swaddling is no longer safe. Of course, it all depends on each baby, but on average it’s around the age of 3-4 months“.
In summary, the important thing is to carefully monitor your baby’s reactions and listen to his skills and movements.
Another possibility of evolution is to leave the arms free when the infant expresses the desire.
Swaddling safely: instructions for use
Pilar Izquierdo Herlihy and Nicolas Dutriaux share the same opinion: swaddling must be carried out following the rules so that it is without risk to the baby’s health and that the baby derives benefits from it.
- The body must only be wrapped up to the shoulders, the head and neck must remain free from all movement;
- The arms are gathered together on the chest;
- You must allow a little movement in the hips and legs to avoid any risk of hip dysplasia or dislocation. The baby must be able to bend his legs;
- Likewise, space must be left at chest level so that the infant can breathe freely. One hand should be able to slip between the chest and the diaper;
- The baby must be placed and lying on his back;
- Before proceeding with swaddling, the adult must take into account the child’s temperature and the temperature of the environment. For example, in winter, baby’s outfit must be adapted: diaper, bodysuit and pajamas more or less thick, depending on the temperature of the place. In summer, swaddling can be done with just a bodysuit or in a diaper;
- Stay attentive to your baby and his reactions;
- Remove the swaddle as soon as the infant shows signs of awakening (desire to breastfeed, moves his limbs, opens his eyes, etc.).
Pro tip : before even testing swaddling, in case of crying, make sure that your baby has no stuck burp, no fever, no pain, no hunger, no need to be changed.
Baby swaddling equipment
Pour Pilar Izquierdo Herliy, “No need to spend money on swaddling blankets sold by certain childcare brands. A large breathable diaper or a thin blanket made of natural material, ideally 100% organic cotton, will do the job perfectly.making sure beforehand that it has no buttons (risk of choking), no wires, or labels, which could add unnecessary friction.
In terms of size, it is better to invest in a large square size, 120X120 cm for example, so that it can be used for several months. In short, a large thin fabric will do the job very well, according to the midwife.
And the sleeping bag?
If you practice swaddling, you should not add a sleeping bag on top or underneath, because the baby would be too hot. However, when used alone, it allows freer movement but is less effective for children who need to be restrained.
The basic gesture of a midwife for swaddling
To start the first days , the best is to place the newborn in the center of the square of fabric with the upper edge at shoulder level. The side edges are closed in a triangle away from the face to trap them under the baby, the lower edge can be folded forward against the baby’s stomach (a bit like a kangaroo pocket). According to Nicolas Dutriaux, “The advantage of this technique is that the linen ends up under the baby if he frees himself from it and therefore there is no risk of covering his face.“.
Improving Basic Folding According to a Doula and Midwife
Secondly, after a few days, it is possible to perfect the swaddling.
- Take your fabric and fold it diagonally into a triangle, so that you have the diaper edge to edge;
- Place the triangle, point down, on a flat, safe surface: on the changing table, the bed or even on the floor;
- Position your baby, placing his shoulders in the center of the triangle. Its shoulders must be at the level of the longest length, at the fold;
- Bring his arms to his chest. Grab the right tip and fold it over the baby’s torso (without encompassing the neck) and pass it under the right armpit, then under the buttocks to secure it, stretching the diaper, without tightening it. ;
- Take the bottom point and fold it upwards, making sure that the legs and hips are not hindered;
- Next, grab the left tip of the diaper and tuck it under the baby. The small point can be stuck in the fold at the bottom, at the level of the legs;
- Finally, slip a hand between his chest and the diaper, to ensure that the infant can breathe without…