A warm welcome to DaddyNatal, new dad-blogger aboard the Kiddicare blog! As the UK’s first fully qualified male antenatal teacher, Dean teaches a lot about swaddling but his personal love of it is being revisited at the moment, as a dad of a 9 week old baby. Here’s why he thinks every man (and woman!) should learn to swaddle their baby.
Dean writes: Swaddling is a great tool to have for calming your baby and helping to ease their transition in to the big wide world. Swaddling is a technique which over the years in the UK has had varied levels of popularity. Twenty years ago, swaddling was commonplace but then faded out as concerns were expressed in respect of risks around safety and a link to cot death. Today, swaddling is once again increasing in its popularity and it can be a brilliant tool to have as a parent, but as with most things in life, you need to use your common sense and follow some basic safety guidance.
Babies love the feeling of containment as it was what they experienced for 9 months of pregnancy in the uterus – once baby has arrived you can recreate that containment sensation through swaddling! Swaddling is great for giving your baby that sensation of being held and contained, making them feel calm and secure, without you physically doing it. Having a cuddle has the same effect, of course, but if you want a break or need two hands to do something else, swaddling is an option. In addition to the calming effect on baby, benefits of swaddling also include as an aid to sleep. One notable study from Brussels looked at swaddled and unswaddled babies and found that those who were swaddled slept better; that swaddled babies cried less and when awake were more alert. Certainly, learning the ins and outs of swaddling is always a favourite section of parents attending our BabyNatal and DaddyNatal classes.
So what do you need and how do you do it? You can either swaddle using a cotton cloth (for example, an oversized muslin cloth works well) or buying a specifically designed swaddle blanket, which makes it all very easy and straightforward. One of my favourite swaddles is the Gro swaddle which is incredibly easy to use, but there are many types so find one that appeals to you. You need to be aware, though, that if you are going to use swaddles, one isn’t enough. You will ideally need two or three. As with all things ‘baby’, one will be in the wash, one will be drying and the other one will be in use. This diagram shows you how to do it:
However you swaddle, there are some basic safety guidance, which you should follow:
• Never swaddle over your baby’s face.
• Only swaddle with 100% cotton
• Make sure your baby does not overheat – don’t have them overdressed beneath a swaddle
• Always put your baby to sleep on their back, whether they are swaddled or not.
• Do not swaddle tightly across your baby’s chest.
• Do not swaddle tightly around your baby’s hips and legs; their legs should be free to ‘froggy up’ into a typical newborn position.
• Don’t swaddle a baby after 12 weeks of age if they have not been swaddled before.
As your baby gets older you may also want to swaddle them in a half-swaddle. This means swaddling so their body and legs are still contained, but arms are free. At about this stage, baby Gro bags also have a very similar benefit and are an easy transition to make for bedtimes.
Read more about DaddyNatal classes in our interview with Dean including details of stores offering classes.
To learn more about swaddling and your options look out for BabyNatal classes regularly being held in Kiddicare stores around the country.