The technique of securely wrapping a blanket around baby to keep her arms and legs secure is called swaddling. The blanket is folded in a precise way to be rather snug and keep the arms and legs of a newborn baby from flailing around. The Mayo Clinic website demonstrates one technique for swaddling a newborn. This often is calming to the baby. Sometimes babies are swaddled to keep them warm or to transport them more easily. Mothers around the world have swaddled babies for these very same reasons for thousands of years. Just think of the images you have seen of babies swaddled and put into a papoose which is carried on the mother’s back in Native American tribes or of baby Jesus lying in the manager.
swaddling THE NEWBORN BABY
One of the most popular reasons for swaddling babies is to quiet their crying. When nothing else seems to work, swaddling is often helpful in quieting a crying baby. Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, demonstrates the swaddling technique in the above video from thehappiestbaby’s youtube channel. Dr. Karp teaches that swaddling a newborn is one of the key elements to inducing a more calm and quiet state. Some babies are swaddled just for sleeping at nighttime so they do not startle themselves as they move.
SWADDLING AND MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT
Newborns sometimes startle themselves when they move an arm or a leg. They have been in a watery environment in the womb and the sensation of ones body moving in water is much different than when moving out of the water. When in water there is more pressure against our limbs. They have not yet developed much muscle control of their limbs. Swaddling keeps them from flailing their limbs and provides a clear feeling of their body because of the snug wrap of the blanket. The development of proprioception is very important for motor skill development during baby’s first year. Because baby’s movements are sometimes sudden and unexpected at this early age the swaddling also keeps her from falling out of mommy’s arms. It is important not to swaddle too tightly as well, which will be discussed in a future post. When you ask ‘Why swaddle?” just remember the benefits listed below.
BENEFITS OF SWADDLING
- Keeps babies warm
- Helps quiet baby
- Makes baby easier to carry
- Keeps baby safe
- Improves baby’s feeling of her own body