To Swaddle or not to swaddle

newborn baby being swaddled
baby being swaddled
Photo by Isaac Taylor from Pexels

Have you ever noticed that most pictures that you find on the internet of a newborn baby show the baby all wrapped up in a blanket with a hat on? Maybe you experienced, like I did, the nurse taking your baby once he or she was born, wrapping them up like a little burrito, putting a hat on their head and handing you this little package.

Well research has shown us that this isn’t the best thing for a baby. Wait… what? What’s to research about wrapping a baby up and handing it to the parents? Lots, actually.

First let’s talk about how swaddling that little newborn babe up affects them.

Swaddling affects infant sucking. By wrapping that tiny baby up they show delayed feeding behaviors, suckled less competently at the first feeding, and established effective breastfeeding later than an baby that wasn’t swaddled.

Swaddled babies had lower temperatures than desired, consumed less milk, lost more weight, even if they were formula fed and slept more which caused them to eat less.

A 1990 study showed that swaddled babies had a greater risk of respiratory illness, greater risk of hip displasia(2004/2007) and a greater risk of overheating in warm surroundings.

So if we don’t want our brand new baby, freshly delivered from the warm womb all wrapped up with a blanket and topped with a hat, what are we to do?

Skin to Skin! This amazing way that we were designed to have our newborn babies on our abdomens and chests immediately after birth sets the stage for baby to breastfeed early on.

Newborn baby skin to skin with mom after birth
By Tom Adriaenssen –, CC BY-SA 2.0, gives us these 10 benefits to skin to skin contact:

  1. More normal and stable heart and lung function
  2. More stable body temperature
  3. More regulated blood sugar
  4. Better initiation of breastfeeding
  5. Transfer of good bacteria from mom to baby
  6. Reduced crying(excess crying causes baby to use too many precious calories)
  7. Relief from pain(birth can be traumatic)
  8. Enhanced mom-baby communication and boosting of maternal confidence
  9. Less stress for baby
  10. More bonding between mom and baby

These are just a few of the benefits of skin to skin and it can be done more than just right after birth. I think parents should practice skin to skin with their baby often, especially in times of stress, such as a crying baby that doesn’t want to calm or a baby who doesn’t want to latch on. When in doubt, give skin to skin a try to see how it improves the situation.

And skin to skin isn’t just for mom either. Dads, get right in there and get some skin to skin time with that baby! You will experience an amazing calm and time of bonding with baby too!

Dad skin to skin with new baby

So if you are about to have a baby, get ready to ditch that blanket and cute hat and request uninterrupted skin to skin with your baby immediately after delivery.

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