How Does Swaddling Help a Baby Sleep Through the Night?
We’re going to talk about how does swaddling help a baby sleep through the night.
If you’ve been a parent for more than 24 hours chances are you’ve heard of swaddling your baby.
What you might not know is why swaddling even works…or does it?
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What’s up ladies and gentlemen,
My name is Thomas Uzuegbunem, and this of course, is Your Baby Questions Podcast brought to you by parentspluskids.com.
We’re going to be tackling another sleeping question today.
Before we start
I do want to mention if you have a question you would like to ask and possibly featured in Your Baby Questions Podcast go to yourbabyquestions.com.
and you’ll have an opportunity there to either voice record your question or to type in your baby question.
You never know it could be featured in Your Baby Questions.
Let’s get to the question.
The nurses helped me swaddle my baby when I was in the hospital.
First of all, I want to mention swaddling is difficult to do.
But secondly, why does swaddling help my child sleep.
I do notice he sleeps better swaddled, but I don’t know why it works.
The Answer: How Does Swaddling Help a Baby Sleep?
There are many parts to this question.
So we’re going to break it into parts.
Let’s start with what’s a swaddle.
What’s a Swaddle?
Swaddling or I guess I should say the act of swaddling your baby is wrapping them in a blanket in a fairly tight or snug fashion.
If you go to the show notes at yourbabyquestions.com/02, you’ll be able to see a picture of a baby that’s been swaddled.
[The pinnable picture above is a picture of a baby that’s been swaddled.]
As for why does swaddling work one of the main benefits of swaddling is that it helps to keep your babies startle reflex from waking them up.
What’s the Startle Reflex?
What’s the Startle Reflex you ask?
The Startle reflex is just one of the many reflexes your baby is born with.
You probably have seen this.
You’re watching your baby.
all seems peaceful.
Than all of a sudden they hear a loud noise…
(or sometimes for what appears to be for no reason at all)
…you see a twitch here and arms jerking and fanning out…
and now you have a baby that’s awake not sleeping anymore and probably crying.
That jerking movement and fanning of the arms is the startle reflex.
Some babies do have more sensitive startle reflex than others.
Either way, when your baby has those movements, it can wake them up from sleeping and unfortunately you.
Video of a Baby’s Startle Reflex
What a swaddle does is it’s kind of mimicking the feeling of being in the womb for lack of a better way to phrase it.
It restricts some of your baby’s movement and reducing the likelihood they’ll wake up from the startle reflex.
The startle reflex starts going away around 4 months or so.
I know when the nurses were teaching my wife and me how to swaddle our son.
I sucked at it.
Seriously, I sucked at it!
Till this day I’m not very good at it.
In the end, I’ll tell you what we used to swaddle our baby, and found very helpful.
Before that, I do want to mention that
While swaddling can be a very useful method to help your baby sleep,
it’s also very important that you make sure that you do it right and keep an eye out for some red flag reasons why you wouldn’t want to swaddle your baby.
What to Keep in Mind When You’re Swaddling
1. So for starters, you always want to place your baby on their back.
Remember “back to sleep” campaign
2. You want to be mindful of the temperature.
Overheating is a big no-no when it comes to babies.
Overheating increases your babies risks for sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS as it’s more commonly referred to.
Swaddling just adds more layers that your baby is wearing.
3. If your baby sleeps really well without a swaddle, you might be better off not swaddling your baby
4. Once your baby starts being able to roll it’s recommended to STOP swaddling.
5. Make sure your baby’s sleep area is clear of loose fabrics and clothing.
You also want to make sure if you're using a blanket to swaddle your baby so that it can’t come loose.
If you’re set on swaddling your baby the old fashion way you can go to the show notes at yourbabyquestions.com/02.
We have a link and video that’ll help you learn how to swaddle your baby the old fashion way.
But generally, you’ll follow something similar to these steps
Steps to Swaddling Your Baby:
1. Make sure you have a clear flat surface
Make sure you get a blanket that’s not going to cause your baby to overheat
Spread out your blanket on the flat surface with a corner of the blanket folded in. (It’s going to look like a diamond.
Have the folded end of the blanket at the top.
Next, you’ll want to lay your baby on the sheet with the neck of your baby on the folded end of the blanket.
With the arms straight and not bent you’re going to start by going left to right. The left corner side of the blanket will be tucked into the right side of your baby snugly but not too tight.
Straighten up the right arm and then tuck the right side of the blanket to the left side of your baby.
Tuck the excess blanket into either side of the baby.
If you’re like me and you suck at making the perfect swaddle,…
or you just don’t want to fool with the using a blanket or sheet period…
we use a sleep sack called the Swaddle-up that we’ve found very helpful.
If you’re looking it up online it’s S-W-A-D-D-L-E U-P.
If you would like to check out our review and find out more about the swaddle up you can do that at yourbabyquestions.com/swaddleup.
Or just go to the show notes at yourbabyquestions.com/02 and you’ll find those links at the bottom along with the sources we used.
As always I’m going to leave you with a quote
Nope, they don’t.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode.
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Until next time.
As always these are general thoughts and should not be taken as medical advice or professional advice given. There are exceptions to every rule so make sure you discuss with your primary care provider or your professional any concerns you might have.
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