Is swaddling safe for sleeping


For many years’ parents have swaddled their babies. In recent times medical opinion has been divided on the safety of this practise, due to a possible increased risk to SIDS and due to incorrect swaddling preventing normal hip development.

Further research in this area needs to be clearer, to allow parents to make an informed decision. Some studies suggest that swaddling does lead to increased sleep tendencies and reduced crying, which is hugely positive and encouraging, as sleep deprivation and excessive crying can create other risk factors in a family with stressed parents finding it difficult to cope. (Franco, et al., 2005)

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However, a concern with longer sleep tendencies for our babies may mean that there are lower or less arousals, and that may result in delays in signalling to the parent, they may also feed less often, and these dynamics then may create a risk. (Pease, et al., 2016)

The NCT is asked if “swaddling is safe” and their response is that swaddling is safe, but it is not without risks, and parents must continue to make informed decisions and observe safe sleep practises. (NCT, 2016) The most important one being that babies are always placed on their backs to sleep.

Swaddling itself, can help to promote the back to sleep campaign, especially with babies that appear to not necessarily want to sleep in this way. (Sleuwen Van, et al., 2007) (Oden, et al., 2011) Babies that sleep on their side or their stomach are at an increased risk to SIDS. (Pease, et al., 2016) So even if you feel your baby is more comfortable sleeping this way, it is strongly discouraged.

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The other very important piece of information is that babies must be taken out of the swaddle by no later than 4 months or at the very earliest sign of your baby starting to roll over. (Nelson, 2017) It is this dynamic that may increase the risks, as rolling onto the tummy whilst swaddled, may mean that your baby is unable to re-position themselves and this may increase the risk of SIDS. (Pease, et al., 2016) So, please be mindful of this very important piece of information and begin the transition. The Love To Dream Stage 2 is a great way to make this adjustment and still preserve your child’s restful sleep tendency.

There are plenty of further practices that parents are encouraged to observe to reduce risk factors. Overheating can leave a family at risk and the use of the swaddle can avoid this too, when used correctly. (Nelson, 2017) It is also important that you do check your baby to see if they are too warm- always check the stomach or the back of the neck, use a room thermometer and adjust appropriately. Never let your baby wear a hat for sleeping.

Furthermore, the love to dream swaddle prevents the use of loose bedding and fits securely and not too tightly around your baby’s neck and helps to avoid anything from covering the head.

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The love to dream swaddle also promotes hip development and allows your babies legs to fall into the natural frog position that is recommended. (InstituteofInternationalHipDysplasia, 2018)

If you do choose to swaddle your baby- then it is recommended to swaddle for all sleeps both bedtime and naptime. Furthermore:
1. Avoid smoking near your baby
2. Sleep with your baby in the same room
3. Always place your baby in their crib with feet close to the end
4. Use a new safety approved mattress for each baby in your house

Lucy Wolfe, is a Sleep consultant, Co-creational Parent and Relationship Mentor, Author of The Baby Sleep Solution and All About The Baby Sleep Solution, creator of “Sleep Through”, a natural bed and body sleep spray and relaxing rub, and Mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise and valuable support to families around the world. See www.sleepmatters.ie |+35387 2683584 or |lucy@sleepmatters.ie

References

Franco, P., Seret, N. & Van Hees, J., 2005. Influence of Swaddling on Sleep and Arousal Characteristics of Healthy Infants. Pediatrics, 5(115), pp. 1307-1311.

InstituteofInternationalHipDysplasia, 2018. Hip Healthy Swaddling. [Online]
Available at: https://hipdysplasia.org/infant-child/hip-healthy-swaddling/
[Accessed 15 01 2021].

LullabyTrust, 2016. The Lullaby Trust. [Online]
Available at: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/rates-of-sudden-infant-death-syndrome-go-down-to-lowest-on-record-but-baby-charity-says-more-lives-could-be-saved/
[Accessed 15 01 2021].

NCT, 2016. Swaddling a baby: the benefits, risks and seven safety tips | NCT. [Online]
Available at: Swaddling a baby: the benefits, risks and seven safety tips | NCT
[Accessed 15 01 2021].

Nelson, A., 2017. Risks and Benifits of Swaddling. MCN, The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing, 42(4), pp. 216-225.
Oden, R., Powell, C., Sims, A. & S, W., 2011. Swaddling: Will It Get Babies Onto Their Backs for Sleep?. Clinical Peadiatrics, 51(3), pp. 254-9.

Pease, A., Fleming, J., H. F. & Moon R, 2016. Swaddling and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 137(6).
Sleuwen Van, B., Engleberts, A. & Boere-Boonekamp, M., 2007. Swaddling: a systematic review. Pediatrics, 120(4).

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