Swaddling can keep your baby from getting overstimulated by his own jerky limbs, which is known as the startle reflex, but if your baby is content without swaddling, you don’t have to do it. There is nothing that says babies have to be swaddled.
If you decide to swaddle, here are some expert tips to keep it safe and healthy for your baby’s development:
- Swaddling should only be used for sleeping or to calm a fussy baby; babies also need plenty of time on the floor to move all of their limbs freely
- Focus the snug portion of the swaddle on your baby’s arms (his legs and hips need room to move)
- Some babies like to be swaddled in a way that lets them access their hands
- Use lightweight fabrics like organic cotton muslin so your baby doesn’t get too warm
- Make sure the top of the blanket is away from his face
- Make sure your baby’s chest can expand when breathing; this might sound obvious but it is important to make sure the swaddle isn’t too snug
- Stop swaddling your baby before he learns to roll onto his tummy or side (babies typically start rolling from back to side around 4 to 5.5 months)
Note: Be sure to put your baby on his back and on a flat surface for sleeping (instead of in a swing or baby seat). It is so important for development.