A few days ago, I received a call from a new dad. It was late at night and he and his wife were struggling with their 5 day old baby. Neither of them were getting more than 20-30 minutes of sleep at a time and neither was their newborn baby. “We don’t know if he’s getting enough to eat and we are all so very tired”.
I gave them a few pointers over the phone to try that night and I asked them to follow up with me the next day. I received a call from the new dad promptly about 8:45 am the next day. “Everything you told us to do last night worked and we were able to get 2.5-3 hour stretched of sleep! We would love for you to come over today and work with us”.
When working with this couple and their newborn there was a lot we went over, but today and for this post, I want to focus on one thing. The Importance of Swaddling Your Newborn Baby.
Why We Swaddle Babies
The number of reasons we swaddle babies is many. A few of the most important being:
- Regulation – Infants tend to get dysregulated VERY easily. Swaddling helps them to regulate their nervous systems and be in a calm, relaxed state. Most often, swaddling is the first thing that needs to be done if your baby is worked up.
- Moro Reflex – The Moro or “Startle Reflex” is activated when a baby is put on their back. This reflex makes the infant feel like they are falling and as an instinctive reflex, the infant will ‘throw’ their arms out to the side. Because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends we place babies on their backs to sleep, this startle reflex gets activated often. Swaddling combats this reflex.
Swaddling In The Early Days & Weeks
Being a Newborn Care Specialist and having worked with more than a hundred babies over the years, I’ve got the swaddling process worked out quite strategically. Here is the swaddling process I recommend to new parents over the first weeks and months of their baby’s life. Make sure you reference the weight ranges for any of these swaddles (that aren’t blankets) and compare the guide to your baby’s weight. This will help you determine the appropriate size to order.
Birth to 4 or 6 weeks of age: Double swaddled
How to swaddle: Generally, I recommend parents use the SwaddleMe pod first and then the stretchy blanket over the top. Make sure you keep the fabric at the shoulder line and angle it to a “V” on their chest.
How to Dress Baby: Long or short sleeve onesie and socks. Temperature in the home should be 68-70 degrees.
Important Tip: The swaddle needs to be SNUG! This is to prevent fabric from moving toward the baby’s face as well as helping the infant feel secure. They like to be really snug and cozy at this age.
4 to 8 or 10 Weeks of Age: Single Swaddle
How to Swaddle: If using the wraps, follow their instructions. Blanket swaddling should be at shoulder height and angled to a “V” in the front of baby’s chest.
How to Dress Baby: Generally a sleep n play with feet is great.
10 Weeks to 3 or 4 Months of Age: Sleep Sack
How to Swaddle: Follow manufacturer instructions for both. With the Halo, I prefer to place arms inside the zipper and use the wings, angled in the front and wrapped across the chest.
How to Dress Baby: Halo, if it’s cotton, a sleep n play is great. If it’s winter time and you’re using fleece, a onesie is great. The Merlin is a little warmer, so socks and a short sleeve onesie is perfect!
Swaddling in the early weeks and months of your baby’s life is crucial! Especially if you’d like for you and your baby to get some decent sleep! I can’t over emphasize enough how important swaddling is. If you’re having a hard time figuring it out or finding the right swaddle for your baby, please reach out. We would love to help you!