Scientific Proof That Swaddling Helps Your Baby Sleep Better And Cry Less

Learn the truth about the benefits of swaddling to your precious little one

Mothers have been doing it for millennia, but apparently, it’s only during recent times that swaddling got an approval stamp from science. Modern research paved the way for the renaissance of baby swaddling, particularly in the last 30 years. Swaddling today is considered one of the most effective means of settling and soothing irritable babies and helping them sleep longer with fewer awakenings.

In the early 1990s, the scientific community declared that placing babies on their back to sleep reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). And because swaddled babies sleep better on their back as proven by numerous studies, swaddling has become increasingly popular.

As of a 2013 report, almost 90% of infants in North America are being swaddled in the first few months of life.

This new wave of baby swaddling practices explore a much improved understanding of infant development, particularly on safe versus unsafe use of swaddling products. As parents, all you need to know is that scientifically speaking, swaddling can be beneficial to your baby, as long as you do it right.

Swaddling promotes better sleep

According to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies will sleep better when swaddled. Swaddling prevents newborn babies from startling themselves awake with random arm movements. Also, it was concluded that swaddling promotes “sleep continuity”, which means they sleep longer.  

Below is an excerpt from the conclusion of the study:

Swaddling has a significant inhibitory effect on progression of arousals from brainstem to full arousals involving the cortex in QS. Swaddling decreases spontaneous arousals in QS and increases the duration of REM sleep, perhaps by helping infants return to sleep spontaneously, which may limit parental intervention.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that you should always place your swaddled baby on his or her back for sleeping and never on the stomach because it increases the risk of suffocation and SIDS.

Swaddling calms the body, which makes your baby cry less

Aside from better sleep, the warm, protected feeling of being swaddled can also help improve neurobehavioral organization, or in layman’s terms, being calm. According to several studies mentioned in an article in "Pediatrics," the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, swaddled babies have significantly lower levels of nervousness and anxiety. This reduced anxiety also explains why swaddled babies cry less.

Distressed and irritable babies calm down because wrapping them in a swaddle simulates the warmth and snugness of the mother’s womb. Swaddling is advised as the best solution whenever your baby needs help calming down or is having trouble transitioning to sleep. You can swaddle your baby during bedtime, but it’s also best to have them swaddle-free when awake.

When babies are calmer and don’t cry too often, it also affects the mood of the parent, which also translates to a more affectionate emotional connection between the two. Mothers who swaddled their newborns have been found to experience significantly less maternal anxiety and higher levels of overall parental satisfaction, which is not surprising considering that swaddling lessens crying and fussiness — two things associated with stress and anxiety among parents, especially new parents.

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