The Benefits of Swaddling a Baby

Swaddling is an incredibly comforting and soothing practice for newborns and babies. Parents swaddle babies as a common strategy to protect infants up until they can roll over. Harvard University has established that swaddling has been a major part of caring for babies for centuries. Swaddling helps newborns adjust to life in the new world, as they can recall familiar motions from inside the womb that brings the baby great peace. There are major benefits to using a baby swaddle including protection from newborn reflexes, colic treatment, anxiety elimination, self-harm scratching prevention, better quality sleep, SIDS prevention and keeping the baby on their back.

Swaddling protects Babies from Newborn Reflexes

Newborn reflexes are involuntary reactions that newborn babies have in movement. Newborn reflexes are part of a baby’s usual coming into the world activity and are spontaneous. As the newborn reflexes can be unexpected and irregular, it’s crucial to monitor the baby’s reflexes and implement practices such as swaddling to keep the infant safe and encourage calmness. All newborns are different and each reflex ranges in when they occur, the reason why they occur and how long they will remain for.

Several newborn reflexes require parents’ attention to soothe a newborn. Moro reflex, also known as a Startled reflex is triggered in babies by things such as intense lighting, loud or sudden noises, and overactive or sudden movements. Moro reflex occurs within the first 12 weeks of birth, as infants extend and straighten their limbs outwards and then retract to quickly pull the limbs back inwards towards the body. This kind of activity can be startling to the baby, and swaddling calms the baby to prevent regular activity from becoming overactivity.

Other common newborn reflexes that swaddling soothes include:

  • Rooting (rooting) reflex, when a newborn baby’s lip or cheek is touched and the infant makes sucking (rooting) mouth motions toward the stimulation (helps the baby to find his or her towards the nipple at feeding time)
  • Tonic neck (fencing) reflex, when a baby’s arm stretches out and the opposite arm bends into a “fencing” position as the head turns to one side (this position originates from within the womb after conception  
  • Grasp (palmar) reflex, considered an incredibly cute reflex that is adored by many, is when ta newborn baby clutches their tiny fingers around yours and holds on
  • Babinski reflex, a reaction to physical stimulus to the sole of the feet when the baby’s big toe flexes upwards 
  • Stepping (step) reflex, a very sweet motion when babies push their feet into the air in a walking movement

Swaddling calms Babies with Colic

Colic is distinctive, extreme wailing from babies without obvious reasons such as hunger or the need for a diaper change. Colic includes hours of intense crying from the infant that is distressing to both babies and parents and can be eased through swaddling. Today’s medical prognosis of colic is diagnosed under the following conditions: the baby cries for over 3 hours a day, 3 days a week and is persistent for over 3 weeks in a row.  

Babies experiencing colic often frantically cry as they clench their fists and pull up their legs more than usual. Swaddling is a fantastic solution to supporting babies with colic by wrapping babies for a sense of pressure and comfort.

Swaddling can Alleviate Anxiety by Imitating Touch

Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry reports that there are early predictors of anxiety and depression evident in the brain even at birth. Swaddling is a form of touch imitation that helps babies learn to self-soothe and ease anxieties and colic. A 2003 study by St James Roberts has revealed that some babies can even become upset by regular caregiving actions such as caressing and stroking. 

Infants experiencing anxiety show signs of irritability, crying, sneezing, frowning, squirming, disorganised activity, limbs pushing away, flailing, squirming and looking away. Touch happens to be the first of 5 senses to develop in babies, and swaddling can imitate touch, and become a part of a baby’s development of cognitive skills for imitation and empathy.

Swaddling Prevents Scratching 

Swaddling secures the baby’s arms and prevents babies from scratching themselves. As babies are yet to gain complete awareness of their limbs and motions, newborns have uncontrolled movements due to their reflexes. Skin irritation and itchiness through eczema and baby acne may also cause babies to scratch themselves. Should baby scratch themselves, it is advised that the disturbed area is washed and lotioned to prevent an infection. Parents may wrap baby in a swaddle to avoid further scratches.

Swaddling Helps Baby Sleep Restfully

A baby sleeps between 12 and 16 hours a day. A Lampl and Jonson Study has shared that sleep impacts the growth of babies, and that the physical development of babies can be stunted due to a lack of sleep. Swaddling babies is a way to create a cozy hold of baby so that baby can sleep longer and better. 

Babies have an immature immune system that is considered fragile, and quality rest through swaddling can help baby’s sleep for immunity development. A deep and comfortable sleep for baby impacts his or her learning and mental development. Tarullo et al  highlights that a good night’s rest is crucial to preparing a baby for the process of exploration of sensory and environment stimuli strengthen the memories of what babies learnt when they were awake and helps baby better process information.

Swaddling prevents SIDS

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) occurs rarely, with the Queensland Government reporting that SIDS accounts for the deaths of more infants between ages of one month and a year than any known cause. SIDS can occur during a baby’s development when exposed to environmental stresses such as getting tangled in bedding. Swaddling is a means of preventing SIDS, limiting the baby’s movement during sleep so that baby doesn’t get lost in knotted bedding and remains safe during sleep.

Swaddling keeps Baby on their Back

Babies who are swaddled can remain more still and firm when laying alone on their back on a flat surface. This prevents too much motion from newborn babies that may cause harm to the baby, such as rolling off of surfaces, or rolling into a face-down position. Swaddling controls baby’s movement to ensure safety

Reap the Benefits of Swaddling with The Swaddle Society

Swaddling keeps newborns safe, calm and prevents any potential accidents from active babies. Swaddling is a simple technique that benefits both parents and the baby to maintain peace for newborns transitioning into their development. The Swaddle Society provides parents with an array of beautiful, delicate and sturdy Australian swaddles to comfort and soothe babies. Swaddles are available on The Swaddle Society’s online store, displaying a collection of diverse, unique prints such as the Coral Swaddle and the Bug and Beetle Swaddle.