The ABC’s of safe sleep go a long way to keeping your baby as safe as possible. Your little one should: Sleep Alone. On the Back. In a Crib … or similar safe place. But I advise parents to add one more step to the safety routine: Swaddle your baby before sleep. Why? Your infant’s own irritability can lead to risky dangers.
Sure, traditional swaddling can feel weird at first, like baby origami. (That’s one reason Happiest Baby invented SNOO sack, the 5-second swaddle – to end any swaddle struggles once and for all!) but wrapping will help your baby stay calmer and boost safe sleep.
Swaddling Helps Babies Stay on the Back…the Safe Position
Many babies seem unhappy sleeping on the back. They may wriggle or cry…or may just not seem so comfortable. When parents get dismayed (and exhausted!) with the fussing, they may give up and lay their baby on the stomach. In fact, pediatricians used to suggest babies sleep tummy-down because that can help some babies sleep a little more, but we stopped when we discovered stomach sleep can cause SIDS, killing thousands of babies each year.
The good news is that babies tightly wrapped like little burritos are happy ones! When swaddled, babies recall the familiar feeling of life in the womb, and the calming reflex turns on. They sleep so well on the back, parents won’t be tricked into trying the stomach.
Note: Some babies resist swaddling initially, but once you rock and shush them a little they calm and the wrapping keeps them peaceful and happy longer.
Swaddling Reduces the Temptation to Bed Share
Overcome with fatigue, you may accidentally fall asleep with your baby on a risky surface, like a sofa, an adult bed, etc. When you’re exhausted your brain gets numb, just like when you’re drunk! That’s a big problem. Of course you would never bring your baby into bed with you if you were drunk…so why do it if you are “drunk” tired? You could roll on your baby or put an arm over her face without even realizing it. Swaddling helps babies sleep a little better so you are less tempted to do something that might boost your baby’s risk of SIDS and suffocation.
Swaddling Reduces the Chance Your Baby Will Roll Over
By 2-4 months, most babies learn to roll over. Another benefit of swaddling is that it makes rolling on to the stomach much more difficult, however, not out of the question. This fact led me to an “Aha!” moment...Wouldn’t we save babies’ lives if a swaddle/bassinet combo existed, that made it impossible for a baby to roll over? I thought about that a lot…then invented one! Happiest Baby’s SNOO smart sleeper comes with a special swaddle with “wings” that clip into the side of this “smart” crib. If used properly, the baby CANNOT rollover, making it the safest baby bed ever made. Whether you use SNOO or a regular bassinet, swaddling makes sleep much safer, in your baby’s first few months of life. (I also recommend keeping your baby’s bed free of pillows, loose blankets, stuffed animals, etc. These are all suffocation risks.)
Swaddling Increases Breastfeeding Success
If your baby cries a lot, it can bring up subtle worries that perhaps your milk is not satisfying your baby. It turns out, this is a key reason moms give up on the breast. But, since wrapping reduces crying…it therefore boosts successful breastfeeding…which is known to lower the risk of SIDS by 50%! That’s a win-win-win situation! When combined with white noise, swinging motion and sucking, swaddling works even better to soothe crying babies and boost sleep.
Be Sure to Swaddle Safely
Swaddling and installing your infant car seat have an important thing in common: you have to do it correctly to keep your baby safe. Many moms and dads find that watching The Happiest Baby on the Block The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD / streaming video once or twice helped them nail the technique. Whether you learn from the video or from a Happiest Baby class or even a friend who is an experienced swaddler, I recommend wrapping your baby for all naps and night sleep until she starts turning over on her own (usually around 4 months).
More: Get information on the 5-second swaddle and SNOO smart sleeper.