Hey there, dads, moms and other support partners. We know that a major pain point is knowing how to be involved in your partner’s pregnancy and postpartum. Here’s a helpful rundown on how a new parent and partner to the birth parent can offer loving support…swaddling!
What a new parent needs to know about swaddling
One of the first things that you’ll want to do once that baby is born is to hug and squeeze it and then eventually, help that baby to sleep. This is where swaddling comes in. “Especially for the support person, it is a really sweet way to show care,” says Kelly Dungan, a registered nurse, midwife, and Spinning Babies® approved trainer.
What is swaddling?
Swaddling is wrapping a baby in a thin, lightweight blanket. However, more important than the “what,” is the “why” of swaddling. “It is very soothing for babies to be contained,” Dungan says. “It reminds them of being in the womb.” The first three months after a baby is born, they are essentially still functioning as a fetus, but just outside of the womb. “Physiologically, it is familiar for babies to be swaddled. This makes it easier for the baby to fall asleep and reduces crying,” says Dungan. And just as an added point, “we can soothe our babies by swaddling them, but we also know skin-to-skin contact has incredible benefits as well.”
Should I swaddle my baby? Is it safe?
Some concerns around swaddling have popped up, and we want to name that. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and hip dysplasia are two very serious topics that get questioned as being related to swaddling. Studies like this 2016 meta-analysis from the American Academy of Pediatrics have shown that while swaddling is safe, like anything it should be done correctly.
Most hospitals and midwives will instruct you on how to properly wrap your baby in a swaddling blanket before leaving the hospital. If you are having a home birth, talk to your home birth team. They can also help. Dungan recommends that you check with your pediatrician on your two to three-day visit to ensure that you are doing proper swaddling at home.
The biggest takeaways when it comes to swaddling safety are: babies should be left to sleep on their back, they should have leg mobility, and swaddling is no longer needed (or recommended) by the time baby can roll over on their own. This can be anywhere from two to four months of age.
How to swaddle
The act of swaddling itself is quite simple. Before you begin, make sure your swaddling blanket is light and thin. A heavy blanket will be too hot for baby. Here is an easy guide to follow for swaddling your little one.
- Spread the swaddling blanket out on a flat surface (bed, floor, etc) bed, or the floor, and fold over one of the corners.
- Lay your baby down on the blanket with their head at the folded corner.
- Wrap the right corner over your baby (with their right arm straight down by their side). Then, tuck the end of the blanket underneath their body.
- Bring the bottom corner of the blanket up over their feet.
- Wrap the left corner over your baby (with their left arm down), leaving just their head and neck outside of the blanket.
- Check that the blanket isn’t too tight around the hips and legs.
What about a Velcro swaddle?
To make swaddling even simpler, there are Velcro swaddles. The pre-packed hospital bag from Lily and Llama (another game changer for birth partners) features a Velcro swaddle in all of their bundles. Just as safe as a blanket, and a heck of a lot easier to wrap up your bundle of joy.
Lily and Llama swaddle options: clean and simple white, or cute and playful elephant.
Birth partners, you may very well be the first person to swaddle your baby. This can feel new, intimidating, and like a bit of pressure. Lean into your intuition and your birth and postpartum support team for support and questions.
Launched in 2021 by Michelle Conarty and her husband Landon, Lily and Llama is the first pre-packed hospital bag for expecting mamas. When Michelle was pregnant with each of her two babies, she wished there was an option to purchase a pre-packed hospital bag of her own. So, she made it herself. The Lily and Llama mission is to help make life easier for expecting moms, one bag at a time.