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Why Swaddling Promotes Better Sleep

September 01, 2017
Why Swaddling Promotes Better Sleep

Anyone that knows me knows that my mantra is swaddle, swaddle, swaddle! Despite this being one of the easiest ways to soothe and settle a baby, people regularly tell me that they stopped swaddling because either their baby cried when they tried doing it so they assumed they didn’t like it or their baby was Houdini-like and they couldn’t keep them in one. While swaddling is a bit of an art, it’s not hard to master and well worth the investment.

Benefits of Swaddling Your Newborn Baby

  1. Newborn babies are born with an immature startle reflex. This simply means that when they are started by a change in stimulation (for example, a loud noise or even the process of going off to sleep) their arms and legs can jerk and flail. By swaddling their arms are kept closer to their body and these movements are less likely to disturb them

  2. There is also evidence swaddling reduces the risk of SIDS as it makes it harder to flip over onto their tummy or cover their faces with bedding, both of which have been linked to higher rates of SIDS in newborn babies

  3. Swaddling replicates a similar experience to being contained in the womb and this sense of security leads to less crying and longer stretches of sleep

Does Swaddling Cause to Hip Dysplasia?

Most reports that have associated swaddling with hip dysplasia (DDH) have shown that the problem was with the wrapping technique – that is where the knees and hips were rigidly bound. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute says swaddling is safe as long as the infant’s knees can flex and the hips can flex and abduct. Make your swaddle firm around the upper body so that it doesn’t get kicked off, but keep it loose around the hips, so that your baby’s legs fall naturally into ‘frog position’.

What Swaddles should I use?

There are a lot of options when it comes to swaddles. Overall, the best fabric to use is the 100% cotton muslin as this is light weight and breathable. The bigger the better so always try and get the largest wraps you can as this makes it easier to contain a bigger baby. The Aden and Anais 90cm wraps are ideal.

Points to remember with Swaddling

• Remember to always put babies down on their backs to sleep

• Keep the room cool

• Remember to layer your baby’s clothing so they don’t overheat

• Keep the sleeping surface free of any loose blankets or pillows

• Always use the swaddle in accordance with the manufactures instructions

• Leave plenty of room for baby’s knees to bend up and move around in the swaddle

Kate has worked in the field of Sleep Medicine for over 15 years. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne and has since worked extensively both here in Australia as well as most recently in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is passionate about working with families to help children sleep better and is the founder of Babysomnia. She currently lives in Melbourne with her husband and four young children. If you have a question for Kate you can ask it on the Facebook page or for more information check out the website at