Health Information

All about swaddling a newborn: opinions - for - and - against, recommendations of specialists


  • The benefits of free swaddling a newborn
  • How to swaddle a baby
  • Do I need to swaddle a newborn?

Unlike tight swaddling, free gives the child a sense of comfort and safety. With such swaddling, the newborn may be in a natural position for him, which excludes tight swaddling. In addition to limiting freedom, due to tight swaddling, it becomes difficult for the baby to breathe, there is a danger of overheating.

Free swaddling - features

Free or enveloping swaddling allows the newborn to quickly adapt to a new environment for him. In a cozy "cocoon" the baby can move its arms and legs. However, modern parents often face criticism from grandmothers and great-grandmothers, who used tight swaddling when raising their own children. It was believed that such wrapping the baby forms the correct posture, eliminates the curvature of the legs. But in fact, tight swaddling does not contribute to straightening the limbs. On the contrary, due to an unnatural situation, difficulties circulation, the development of the child is slower.

With free swaddling, motor activity allows the baby to know its body. But at the same time, the baby will not be worried, throwing up the handles, the space for movements will be slightly limited. So, as it happened in the mother’s womb. Most often, free swaddling is used during sleep, so that the child can calmly fall asleep, feeling safe.

An important advantage of free swaddling is the versatility of diapers. A swaddled baby does not wake up from the cold, as when covering with a blanket. In addition, diapers are more versatile than suitable age-appropriate sliders and overalls. They will be the best choice in the cold season. One set of diapers is enough for the baby at least up to six months.

When free swaddling is required

The child himself can signal the need for free swaddling. Mom can try to abandon the body and sliders with panties, if the baby often wakes up, is restless in a dream, and interferes with the movements of the arms and legs. In a warm cocoon made of diapers, the baby will be comfortable. It is necessary to abandon the idea of ​​free swaddling if the child expresses dissatisfaction even in case of violation of muscle tone. Also, swaddle during the day and at night the newborn is not worth it if the room is hot. So there is a risk of overheating.

With free swaddling, it is important to follow the correct swaddling technique. To do this, you should study special videos. The general nuances are simple - the diaper should not be tied at the level of the hips or legs. The lower limbs must be bent at the knees so that the child takes a physiological pose (it is also called the “frog” pose). You can swaddle the baby completely, leaving the upper edge of the diaper at the neck level, or partially, when the handles remain free.

The undoubted advantage of free swaddling is the absence of a greenhouse effect, air circulates freely inside the diaper, so the baby will not sweat. Also, with such swaddling, the baby's lungs work in full measure. It is proved that free swaddling helps to strengthen immunity, early hardening. And, importantly, with free swaddling, the baby can sleep on its side or stomach, in such positions it will be convenient for him. Do not forget about the development of touch, tactile sensations, fine motor skills with free swaddling, which doctors call the "golden mean."

Free swaddling is often recommended for the prevention of hip dysplasia. In addition to diapers from soft natural fabrics, you can use special envelopes for newborns, which also do not limit freedom of movement.

Why do babies swaddle?

The tradition of swaddling the baby has come from a long time. Our ancestors swaddled newborns for centuries. While the baby is very small, he often gets his diapers dirty and needs to be changed. Therefore, it is easier to wrap it in a piece of cloth than to change clothes every time. This helped maintain warmth, air circulation, and the physical and psychological comfort of the baby. And in the old days there was no choice of clothes. Infants were usually worn only in vests. In addition, swaddling has its advantages:

    • The baby feels more protected, like in the womb,
    • Do not scare yourself, sharply jerking handles

    After all, coordination of movements is still weak,

      • Don't hurt yourself
      • Wrapped baby sleeps better

    Because it doesn’t wake itself up with the random tremors and jerks that often occur in newborns,

    • Diapers are easier to wash, boil, iron.

    In the modern world, when almost everyone uses disposable diapers, and the choice of comfortable clothes for babies from the first days is quite wide, swaddling is becoming less and less popular. Nevertheless, many parents continue to swaddle babies, especially in the first weeks of life.

    Types - swaddling methods

    There are several types of swaddling:

    With a tight swaddling method, the child stretches the legs and arms along the torso, and wraps it quite tightly in the diaper.

    An alternative to tight swaddling is swaddling.

    Wide swaddling is used when a child is diagnosed with orthopedic problems. For example, hip dysplasia.

    Natural swaddling - this is actually not swaddling, but the finding of a child in a free natural position. The kid is dressed in clothes and a diaper and is not wrapped.

    The skin of a newborn baby is very delicate, so you should pay great attention to the fabrics of which the diaper is made, the quality of hygiene products and, of course, diapers. You can read about the advantages and disadvantages of diapers of popular brands on our link.

    What is required

    If the parents decided that they would swaddle the child, then even at the stage of preparing the "dowry", it is necessary to stock up on films. When using disposable diapers, you will need less diapers. There are enough 5 pieces. After all, a child can stain a diaper by burping or describing when changing a diaper.

    In addition to diapers, a place is needed where the baby will be swaddled. A changing table is best for this. He has shelves for diapers, the ability to conveniently place everything you need to care for the baby, and mom will not have to bend down every time to change the diaper or change the baby.

    Currently, the diaper range is quite large. These are ordinary chintz and flannel diapers, knitted diapers, special envelopes, diapers with a hood and others. Therefore, it is not difficult to choose exactly what suits both mother and child.

    Not all mothers know about the rules of hygiene of newborns, but meanwhile it is very important for the baby’s health. Read about how to properly wash a newborn girl in our next article.

    What is good about swaddling? Proponents of this method cite the following arguments for it:

    1. Swaddling a newborn helps its adaptation to the outside worldcreating a "cocoon" in which the child feels much more comfortable,
    2. The kid does not scare and does not wake himself with erratic movements of the arms and legs, which are often in newborns,
    3. Unable to accidentally scratch or bump,
    4. Swaddling helps a newborn baby maintain normal temperaturewithout overheating and without overcooling (natural fabrics are required),
    5. In some cases, wide swaddling is vital,
    6. Helps parents who are not able to use disposable diapers (there is no need to change the baby, it is more convenient to change the diaper),
    7. Diapers save on diapers and clothes, from which the baby grows very quickly.

    History tour

    The diaper is perhaps a little younger than human civilization. Ancient Roman stone bas-reliefs depicting babies wrapped in fabric, as well as references to the swaddling system among the Indians of America or the peoples of the North, have survived. In the days of Hippocrates first swaddled parts of the baby’s body, each separately, then the whole baby. In medieval Europe, it was customary to wrap a child in a dumpster up to seven meters long.

    Already at that time the question of why swaddle newborns and the dangers of this was raised by progressively minded people. Pliny, an ancient Greek physician, spoke out about the unreasonableness of tying hands and feet in a free creature, which is a child. Opponents of swaddling were Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Leo Tolstoy.

    Diapers were protection from the cold and a means of controlling the baby: the baby, tightly rolled up on his arms and legs, was not able to roll over and fall out of the cradle. They wrapped the babies mainly in the fall and winter, and in the summer they often undressed the children. Remember the paintings of the Renaissance artists: babies on them are mostly naked. In many cultures, twigs were used for up to six months.

    How old

    When deciding how many months to swaddle a child, you need to focus on the psychophysiological level of development. The newborn spends most of the day in a dream and feels better in a cocoon of matter. Time passes, the baby ceases to be in a static position, he has a need for movement.

    Three month old children already trying to flip from different positions. The baby learns to grab pens with various objects. Restraining diaper ties interfere with the baby's natural movements. By this age, the baby is quite strong and comfortable, able to get out of several layers of tissue. You can take it in your hands for feeding without fear of damaging something.

    By six months motor skills of the child include many actions, he becomes more active. Sliders - crawl from the word, as soon as the baby tries to do this, the need for swaddling disappears completely.

    Why are many experts against

    Opponents of swaddling have no less significant arguments:

    1. Tight swaddling interferes with normal blood circulation,
    2. Swaddling inhibits the physical development of the child, interfering with its motor activity, reduces motility and muscle tone,
    3. At high ambient temperatures child overheating is possible,
    4. Tight swaddling increases the risk of developing pathological conditions of the joints, as the child is in an unnatural position for a long time,
    5. Swaddling badly affects the child in psychoemotional terms. The child is trying to break out of the diaper, is uncomfortable, nervous. May lag in future development,
    6. The use of diapers usually does not imply diapers. Mom may simply not have enough energy and time to grind and overload the mountain of diapers every day, especially if there are no helpers,
    7. Need to change diapers often, which can once again bother the baby or lead to irritation if the diaper is not replaced on time.

    Benefits of Swaddling

    Modern proponents of the method give a lot of arguments in their favor. The main argument is the preservation of the tight shell in which the baby was before childbirth. A cocoon of tissue enveloping the baby resembles the prenatal period, soothes. Handles and legs are in a static position and do not cause fright during reflex movement.

    According to adherents of the method, there are many advantages to using diapers:

    • In such a robe no buttons, elastic bands, capable of causing abrasions on the delicate skin of the child. A rough seam can interfere with a baby’s sleep.
    • Way saves family budget: in a set of twenty diapers and several vests, the baby can be from three to six months.
    • In several layers of fabric baby warmer, more convenient to wrap newborn than wearing several layers of clothing. The temperature inside such a cocoon is constant.
    • In diapers less risk of damaging the baby's limbs, it is easier to pick it up inexperienced moms and dads.
    • Some neonatologists believe that weakened and premature babies are best swaddled for medical reasons to support their ligamentous apparatus. Indications for swaddling may be muscle hypertonicity, dystonia, hyper excitability syndrome. The decision is best made according to the recommendations of the attending physician.
    • Proponents of the method argue that temporary lack of freedom contributes to the formation of skills of patience and obedience.
    • It is also believed that a baby wrapped in a cloth sleeps harder and wakes up less often.
    • Still exists enduring prejudicethat the baby’s legs will be smoother if they are swaddled tightly. It has long been known that crooked legs are the consequences of rickets. Clubfoot may be the result of heredity.

    We advise you to watch a short but very informative video about the pros and cons of swaddling.

    The consequences of tight swaddling

    Having studied opinions against swaddling, you can see that tight swaddling is not recommended. Experts are inclined to believe that this method leads to extremely negative consequences:

      • Impaired motor ability,
      • Increased risk of joint dysplasia,
      • The risk of psychological pathologies in the future,
      • Negatively affects the functioning of organs and systems of the body

    It compresses the lungs, disrupting breathing, blood circulation and more.

    Therefore, it is advised to use free swaddling, in which you can swaddle your baby completely, but not tightly. Better if the handles remain free.

    How to swaddle correctly (video)

    Proper swaddling of a child involves several stages.

    Before swaddling a child, it is necessary to clean his skin with water or a napkin. It is necessary to swaddle a clean baby.

    For swaddling, you need a spacious, flat surface on which you can spread the film and lay the baby. Ideally, a special changing table.

    You can swaddle a child in many ways.

    1. Complete swaddling of the newborn.
    • Spread the diaper, if the room is cold, then use two at once: one flannel, the other chintz.
    • Put the baby in the center, head over the diaper.
    • Wrap one edge, passing it under the opposite handle, and put it behind the body.
    • Wrap in the same way the other edge, completely covering the child.
    • Bend the lower part of the fabric up the legs, unfold the ends, wrap around the legs and fasten each other.
    1. Free swaddling with open handles.
    • Dress the child in the vest. It is convenient for newborns to wear vests with wired handles, this will help the child not injure himself.
    • Put the baby on the diaper so that the handles remain above the edge.
    • Wrap in turn both edges of the diaper around the baby, leaving the handles free.
    • To straighten the lower part of the fabric and, lifting up, wrap around the legs and fasten.
    1. Swaddle envelope
    • Position the diaper so that its angle is at the top. Bend it.
    • Then wrap one edge, then the bottom, then the second edge and wrap around the child, securing the back.

    For convenience, you can use special envelopes that will restrict the baby's movements, but do not constrain them.

    When to stop swaddling?

    Experts believe that swaddling a baby for a long time is not worth it. Usually enough use of diapers up to 2-3 months. Moreover, full swaddling is best used in the first weeks after birth, when the baby's movements are especially chaotic. Later it is better to switch to free swaddling with open handles. After three months, swaddling is not necessary at all, unless there is a special indication. You can swaddle the baby only for the duration of sleep.

    Swaddling the baby, you must remember that tight swaddling is still not desirable. The swaddling technique is not complicated, but it is worth mastering it even before delivery.

    There are no contraindications to swaddling the baby. To use it or not, each mother decides on her own, based on the characteristics and needs of her child.

    The benefits of dressing

      • Dressing a baby is easier and faster than swaddling. This does not require special skills. Dad and even grandfather can easily do this.
      • Clothing does not interfere with the free movement of the baby's arms and legs. What contributes to his physical and neuropsychic development. Therefore, pediatricians currently recommend dressing a child from birth, rather than swaddling it.
      • In clothes, there is less likelihood of diaper rash. Since the baby's skin breathes better.
      • In the sliders and vest, the child looks prettier and more mature. Which is very popular with many parents.

    Is swaddling harmful?

    Harmfully tight swaddling, in which the child is swaddled by a soldier (with straightened arms and legs). And they keep it like this for a long time during the day.

    As a pediatrician, I still have to observe this in the families of migrants from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. They have a special crib - a cradle. Wooden, narrow with low sides and a special hole for the natural departures of the child. In this cradle, the child lies with a "soldier" on his back. During sleep, the cradle is still covered with a dense fabric.

    Children in these families suffer the same abnormalities. Most have signs of rickets, a special shape of the head with a flattened back of the head, decreased muscle tone, and excess weight. They do not crawl at all, later they begin to sit and walk.

    Free swaddling, when the child’s legs are not swaddled tightly, but left free, is not harmful for the child.

    Some swaddling recommendations

    • Whether you decide to swaddle your baby or need to wear before birth or from the first days in the hospital. The older the child, the more difficult it will be for him to get used to the new later.
    • Swaddling the baby is recommended only during feeding or sleep. He should stay awake without diapers, in clothes or, even better, naked. - take air baths and actively move.
    • Do not forget to change the baby's diaper at least every 3-4 hours.

    Personal experience

    I have 2 sons. In the first picture, just them, in the first week of life. On the left is the eldest, on the right is the youngest.

    From the first days, the elder pulled pens from the diapers. And in the very first week of my life at home I stopped swaddling him.

    And the youngest in a week in the hospital was used to diapers. The first days at home he woke up, I undressed him, did gymnastics with him, played, then he began to demand food, and I swaddled him. Caught in diapers, he immediately calmed down, realizing that they would feed him, eat and fall asleep. Until 6 months, I swaddled him for the duration of sleep. Then the diapers became small, and I wrapped it in a large towel. After 1 year, this need has disappeared.

    With all this, our eldest son is more restless, excitable, quick-tempered, and the youngest is more calm.

    I hope this article helped you in resolving whether or not to swaddle your baby.

    3 comments: Swaddle or not swaddle Benefits

    We are 4.5 months old, we sleep only with wrapped hands, our girlfriend doesn’t succeed. Krichicht right up to hysteria and shaking. I decided that I would twist my hands with a diaper until I myself refused. I tried not to swaddle, nea, sleeps for 15-20 minutes, then scream, tears. Better to let it be so, he is calm and I am calm. The first daughter, she is already 11 years old, she was swaddled only at night for up to 3 months. I think it’s not a matter of “fashion”, but of the comfort of the child and the calmness of the mother. Indeed, during the day, we can control the baby, but at night ... .... no, because we also need to get enough sleep in order to be ready for new tests for tomorrow (suddenly something gets sick). And as far as antiquity is concerned, as far as I know from my own relatives, grandmothers swaddled and wore on themselves (present slings), because no one then canceled work on collective farms and fields and did not give maternity leave

    I still think that what is more natural is more useful. It is unlikely that in ancient times so swaddled children.

    In antiquity, or rather less than 100 years ago, children were also twisted with a twister. These were specially stitched cloths to tie the child’s hands and, in some cases, legs.
    I stopped swaddling my older one for her. Then, however, there was a moment about 1 year old, when I had to literally tie her hands, because she woke herself. The daughter is soon 5 years old and she is a very uncollected and excitable child.
    Now I have the youngest little mask. I decided to swaddle her until it is possible. Actually, I do not swaddle my legs tightly, but I try to pull the handles tighter. Already in the second month of life it was clear when the child asked her to unwind, and when chaotic movements interfere with her.
    I agree with Maya - it is important to feel the needs of your child and be guided by future benefits, and not by the simplicity and beauty of today.
    And a few words about beauty. Only in the first six months of life can a person show off in swaddling clothes and bonnets. Blouses and pants with skirts - there will be many in the rest of your life. In my opinion, one should not deprive mothers of the pleasure of admiring the baby in the infant “closet”.
    Thanks to the author for the article.

    Disadvantages of the method

    Numerous scientific studies confirm that tight swaddling is more likely to harm the baby. In this state, it is impossible for the baby to take the usual embryo pose, roll over on his stomach, and it is in this position that it is recommended to keep the child with colic.

    Tight swaddling constricts the chest of the baby, makes breathing difficult. Firmly wrapping the newborn in tissue flaps, the following should be considered:

    • Wearing a newborn do not tighten body partssince it interferes with blood circulation. The constant stay of the baby's straightened legs in a static position is fraught with dislocation of the hip joint.
    • A consequence of obstructed blood circulation is a lack of calcium. This element is absorbed by the body during exercise. If the baby does not move the arms and legs, there is a risk of rickets.
    • There is a hypothesis that swaddling negatively affects children's psyche: lack of freedom of movement in infancy forms a tendency to submission. Consequence: a weak-willed personality is formed.
    • Diapers are a means of protection from the cold. In modern apartments with central heating, this is more harmful than useful: there is a great risk of overheating the baby, especially if diapers are used. Why swaddle newborns in such conditions, especially boys? In hot countries there is no practice to wrap the baby in many layers of fabric.
    • For demanding parents, the modern clothing industry produces a line of beautiful clothes for babies, aesthetically diapers lose outfits and sliders. The latter take up less space during drying and storage, require a small amount of detergents.
    • If the room is cold, there is a possibility that the baby released from tightening diapers and freezes. No matter how tightly you wrap up the child, active children are able to find a way to get out of captivity.
    • A newborn sleeps most of the day. Several weeks pass, and he needs to study the environment, which swaddling prevents.
    • The thermoregulation system in infants is imperfect, but its safety margin is high. Children are born and live in hot countries and in the Far North. If you wrap a baby from birth, subsequently even mild hypothermia can lead to the disease.
    • You can put on a diaper in the crib, it is better to wrap the baby on the changing table, and buying it - expensive pleasure.

    A little about free swaddling

    There are many swaddling systems.

    • First - tight, in which the arms are firmly pressed to the body, and the closed legs are straightened and tightly wrapped. Its shortcomings have already been said.
    • Second way - free swaddling, in which the crumbs' handles can be either pressed to the body or freely located along the body.
    • Another option - the use of the likeness of a sleeping bag for a child. In it, the baby can take any position, while the effect of the cocoon, resembling the conditions of the prenatal period, is preserved. The muscle tone of the crumbs is reduced, and adaptation to the big world will be easier.

    A mother who leads an active lifestyle and does not want to part with her baby can choose to use a sling. This option is desirable for children who confidently hold their heads.