Not every swaddle is created equal! Hindi Zeidman, creator of the Ollie Swaddle, shares her swaddle tips.
There is plenty of evidence to show that swaddling, when used correctly, can be a tremendous asset for promoting safe sleeping. The Safe Sleep Guidelines from the American Association of Pediatrics are clear: swaddling helps to keep babies on their back, which is the ideal sleep position to assist in preventing SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Since the guidelines also recommend that there be no blankets, pillows or bumper pads in the crib, your baby needs to be swaddled in a correct and optimal manner. Properly done, the swaddle will stay in place, keeping baby safe and comfortable.
So, what are some of the other benefits of swaddling?
- Can result in improved sleep for baby and for parents.
- Decreases the startle reflex, in turn increasing REM sleep, which is vital for brain development.
- Reduces colic and fussiness: a happy baby is a calm baby.
- Prevents over-stimulation and helps your little one feel comforted by mimicking the comforts of the womb.
With these things in mind, here are some of the specifics on swaddling and what you should look for in an ideal swaddle:
Temperature Regulating Fabric
Fabrics that retain too much heat will only be uncomfortable, at best, and dangerous for baby, at worst. A baby’s body isn’t yet set up to perfectly regulate their temperature and their small size means that they can quickly become overheated. Look for a moisture wicking fabric—as you would find in some sportswear—that will keep baby warm and dry, without overheating.
Moisture wicking fabrics pull perspiration away from the skin and through the fabric so it can evaporate, rather than remaining on the skin. This is important because if not wicked away, during cooler winter nights, sweat that cools on the skin can cause baby’s body temperature to drop. And in the heat of summer, if sweat is simply trapped, baby can quickly overheat. A good fabric will keep baby comfortable all year around.
Please remember it is also important to confer with your pediatrician to determine the ideal temperature for the room where your little one will be sleeping.
While some people worry that swaddling can interfere with proper hip development, among other joints, what you need to look for is a swaddle with fabric that has enough give to allow the hip joints to move freely without interfering with the comfort and safety benefits of the swaddle.
Swaddles that restrict hip movement can result in your baby developing hip dysplasia are to be avoided at all costs. Your baby needs free range of motion in their hips and legs to keep their joint development on track. The swaddle needs to be tight at the torso, but not below! It can still be perfectly safe, if bands are used below baby’s feet!
Don’t forget to band!
Banding the swaddle below the feet is absolutely necessary, even as your baby grows, to ensure a snug and secure fit. What you don’t want is the fabric rising during sleep, potentially covering your baby’s face and creating a suffocation risk. Banding the excess fabric below baby’s feet ensures this won’t happen.
BONUS! If you’re using the Ollie Swaddle, banding the bottom of the swaddle makes midnight diaper changes a breeze! No need to unswaddle and disturb baby completely, with hands flailing: just take off the band and do a quick change, ninja style!
Ideally, you’re looking for one with a flexible fit that will grow with your baby, though remember that once your baby is rolling over from back to stomach—typically around four to five months old—it’s time to consider either stop swaddling or using a transition swaddle, with one or both arms out.
Keep it Tight
Loose swaddles can actually pose a danger in that it could come undone with baby’s movement, the result being that the child gets tangled up in it. If you consider this as it relates to the AAP’s Safe Sleep Guidelines, a loosened swaddle is basically a blanket and therefore a no-no in the crib.
How tight is tight enough? You should still be able to slide your hand flat between your baby’s chest and the swaddle, but not more than that.
There is no doubt that swaddling is a perfect way to help your baby master sleeping comfortably and safely. Finding a swaddle that works for your baby is the key!
Hindi Zeidman is infant mental health clinician and designer of the award-winning Ollie Swaddle with the guidance from a Pediatric Neuro-Developmental Psychologist. The Ollie Swaddle extends the duration of sleep for all babies (including preemies and high risk), reduces fussiness, and helps baby self-calm. The elasticity allows for freedom of movement while the opening at the bottom makes it easy to change diapers. The Ollie Swaddle helps ensure your baby is content and getting the sleep they need. Ollie Swaddle’s patented moisture-wicking material supports the health and development of your little one from day one. The luxuriously soft and gentle feel keeps your baby tightly swaddled while regulating their temperature to keep them comfortable and cool, which reduces the risk of overheating. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.