New parents often learn how to swaddle their infant from the nurses in the hospital. A thin blanket wrapped snuggly around your baby's body can resemble the womb and help soothe your newborn. When done correctly, swaddling can be an effective technique to help calm infants and promote sleep.
But if you plan to swaddle your infant at home, you need to follow a few guidelines to make sure you are doing it safely.
Back to sleep
To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, it's important to place your baby to sleep on their back–every time you put them to sleep. This may be even more important if your baby is swaddled. Some studies have shown an increased risk of SIDS and unintentional suffocation when babies are swaddled if they are placed on their stomach to sleep, or if they roll onto their stomach. If babies are swaddled, they should be placed only on their back and monitored so they don't roll over.
When to stop swaddling
Stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows any signs of trying to roll over. Some babies start working on rolling as early as 2 months of age, but every baby is different.
AAP safe sleep recommendations
The AAP recommends parents follow the safe sleep recommendations every time they place their baby to sleep for naps or at nighttime:
Place your baby on their back to sleep on a firm, flat surface and monitor them to be sure they don't roll over while swaddled.
Do not have any loose blankets in your baby's crib. A loose blanket, including a swaddling blanket that comes unwrapped, could cover your baby's face and increase the risk of suffocation.
Do not use weighted swaddles or weighted blankets, which can place too much pressure on a baby's chest and lungs.
Use caution when buying products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. Wedges, positioners, special mattresses and specialized sleep surfaces have not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Your baby is safest in their own crib or bassinet, not in your bed.
Swaddling can increase the chance your baby will overheat, so avoid letting your baby get too hot. The baby could be too hot if you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash and rapid breathing.
Consider using a pacifier for naps and bedtime.
Place the crib in an area that is always smoke-free.
How to swaddle correctly
Use only a thin blanket for swaddling.
To swaddle, spread the blanket out flat, with one corner folded down.
Lay the baby face-up on the blanket, with their head above the folded corner.
Straighten their left arm and wrap the left corner of the blanket over your baby's body, tucking it between their right arm and the right side of their body.
Then tuck the right arm down, and fold the right corner of the blanket over her body and under their left side.
Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby.
Make sure their hips can move and that the blanket is not too tight. You want to be able to get at least two or three fingers between the baby's chest and the swaddle.
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