I can remember when I was in the hospital after having my youngest daughter, Alice, the nurses told me they are not allowed to swaddle baby’s arms anymore. Being an Early Childcare Provider, my response was, “that’s ridiculous.” When I took my daughter in for her first check-up I inquired about this new suggestion by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and my daughter’s pediatrician’s response was “if they are awake and crying then they are breathing.” So newborns are not supposed to sleep anymore? I don’t think so…there is a correct way to swaddle and it is beneficial to the whole family.
I decided to do a little research. I recently learned many daycare centers in the US stopped swaddling, but went back to swaddling if the parents request. The reason stems from a 2011 decision by the National Resource Center on Child Health and Safety to recommend against swaddling. This stance has caused an alarmist view of swaddling and created worry for parents across the US. The AAP has not taken an official stance on swaddling safety in childcare settings but notes, swaddling “is an effective way to calm infants, especially in the newborn period.”
So what do we know about swaddling? First off, there are no scientific studies to support claims of negative effects of swaddling. Second, evidence based research does suggest swaddling settles and consoles infants. Babies that are content are less stressed and in a better state for sleeping, eating and developing.
So what is the correct way to swaddle? Most importantly, leave room for the legs to move, avoid overdressing under the swaddle, avoid too tight across the chest, and place swaddled baby on their back.
Of course, this is a personal choice for every family. But, as a Childcare Provider with over 12 years of experience taking care of babies, swaddling is the single best soothing technique I have used. In fact, I am concerned for the wellbeing of babies and caregivers who do not practice swaddling.