The Hidden Dangers of Swaddling

So as many of you may know, Daniel and I are expecting our first child in just a few short weeks and
we have been preparing in every way possible for our little arrival! Our baby’s safety has been a big
Dangers of Swaddlingconcern lately, as we want to make sure she is born into a safe and friendly environment. When it comes to sleep time, I had always thought that the best way to put a baby to sleep was to swaddle them. This is what our mothers and grandmothers have been doing for generations right?

This has proven to be a big topic of debate in our household as of late! My husband has been doing his research (he is oh so excited for our little girl to come!) and came across a number of different articles warning new parents against the practice of swaddling! I was shocked that a practice that is so common could be so unsafe. I decided to do some research for myself and found that there are many risks involved in swaddling babies. So much even hospitals have even started to phase out the practice of swaddling, opting for sleep sacks instead!

What is Swaddling?

First things first, if you aren’t familiar with the practice swaddling, it is the practice of wrapping your baby in a blanket so they resemble a small sleeping burrito! The practice makes the baby feel nice, warm and snug just like they did when they were in the womb. It also helps prevent the startle reflex, where babies often startle themselves awake with arm movements during their sleep. Many parents swear by the practice of swaddling and believe it is the best way to get that restless newborn to sleep! However, a recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests otherwise.


baby-1538342_1920Increased Risk of SIDS…

There are 3,500 cases of Sudden Infant Death syndrome in the USA per year! In 2014, 69% of those deaths were associated with unsafe sleeping! These Deaths can easily be prevented by knowing the risks and learning how to put your child to sleep safety.

The study done by the AAP concludes that swaddling can increase a child’s risk of SIDS (Sudden infant Death Syndrome). This is especially true for infants that are swaddled until they are older than 6 weeks old. This is because, once the baby is able to roll over, they could roll over in their sleep. If they are nicely wrapped up like a tiny burrito (with their arms tucked down by their sides) they will not be able to roll themselves back onto their back. This significantly increased the risk of suffocation which in turn, leads to Sudden Infant Death!

To avoid this, as soon as your baby is able to roll over, you should stop swaddling ASAP! With this being said…it is important to remember that you should always place your baby on its back to sleep!

Increased risk of Hip Dysplasia…

Hip Dysplasia is a deformation or misalignment of the hip joint which leads to partial or complete hip dislocation! When babies are swaddled, they are often wrapped up tight with their legs lying straight down. Swaddling this way actually puts your baby’s hips in a very unnatural position and can lead to the onset of Hip Dysplasia.

To avoid this, the baby’s legs should be bent at the hip and at the knee. This is a very natural position for a baby’s legs (any Yogi’s out there? Think Happy Baby pose!) Also make sure that the blanket is wrapped loosely around their legs to allow more freedom of movement.

Increased risk of overheating…

In addition to the two risk mentioned above, swaddling also increases the chance of overheating, another common cause of SIDS. This is because the blanket is wrapped closely to the baby’s body restricting proper air circulation (important in the regulation of body temperature).

To avoid overheating, wrap the baby loosely and use blankets with breathable material. Muslin Cotton come highly recommended for swaddling because it it extremely breathable!

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What to Remember….

If you do choose to swaddle your baby, make sure you are following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for how to swaddle safety. Be sure to:

  1. Always lay baby down on their back
  2. Stop swaddling as soon as the baby is able to roll over
  3. Allow some wiggle room and swaddle them with their hips bent in a natural position
  4. Use breathable fabrics

For more information on swaddling safety check out the American Academy of Pediatrics or check out this friendly guide!

Following these simple guidelines to proper swaddling can seriously decrease the risk of SIDS and lead to a much safer, and calmer nights sleep (that is, if you can even get some sleep anymore)!

While Daniel and I have not completely decided against swaddling, we have also purchased the HALO SleepSack  to use as well. Sleep sacks come in all sizes (including newborn sizes) and can be a great alternative to swaddling your baby!

Whatever you choose, make sure you always have your baby’s safety in mind.

Good Luck and Happy Sleeping!

Sources:

  1. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/05/05/peds.2015-3275
  2. https://www2.aap.org/sections/scan/practicingsafety/Toolkit_Resources/Module1/swadling.pdf
  3. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324216004578480952498348128