Thursday, April 4, 2013

Swaddling Your Baby

The ancient infant care practice of swaddling has caught on around the United States. Swaddling seems to have a soothing effect on crying babies—and, as a result, on their parents, too.

Swaddling is a method of wrapping a newborn baby in a cotton sheet or light blanket as is often done by the nurse immediately after a baby is born, restricting the baby's movement. Common wisdom suggests that swaddling gives babies a feeling of security and warmth as they adjust to life outside the womb.

Recent medical research suggests that swaddling has some benefits for infant sleep. In a study of 26 healthy babies, researchers found that swaddling helped decrease arousals during sleep, perhaps enabling babies to go back to sleep on their own. Another study of 16 infants found that swaddling promoted more sustained sleep and fewer awakenings.

A word of caution, however. If not done properly, swaddling can be risky. A nurse or midwife can help a new mom or dad learn how to do it properly. Swaddling needs to be done safely so the baby is not too warm or circulation is cut off. The baby's face must not be covered, and, of course, the baby needs to be moved, held, and cared for in other loving ways. So if your baby cries a lot or has trouble sleeping, you may want to talk to your baby's health care provider about the best way to swaddle your infant

Source: Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

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