Let’s wrap our small babies! It does help them sleep better and longer.
There are many different styles of swaddles and wraps to choose from all claiming to be the miracle you have been searching for, that elusive, settled, sleeping angel!
Today’s parents are inundated with so much conflicting advice and information from so many sources, little wonder you don’t know which course to follow and what products to purchase.
I have practised as a trained and qualified Mothercraft nurse for many years now and I have met sleep challenged babies every week (and just as many exhausted parents!).
Here are the reasons why I believe your little babies will settle better and longer when they are snugly wrapped and tucked into their beds.
- Little babies from birth up until about 4 months of age still experience their startle (Moro) reflex and some find this more distracting and disruptive than others to deal with during their sleep periods. Whilst settling to sleep can be a challenge, (every day at least one unsettled period is the norm) being wrapped firmly with their hands and arms tucked away from their face will help them relax more quickly and stay settled longer. The art of wrapping is a “learnt” skill so when you are in hospital ask a Midwife to show you how and don’t be afraid to practice under their guidance.
- I have not met a baby from newborn to around 4-5 months of age who doesn’t respond well to feeling contained and secure (emulating in utero) from a firm wrap when going to sleep. Just like when you cuddle them and hold them tight!
- Being wrapped is a great sleep cue for baby, even though they sometimes look at you in abject horror when you put them down to do “the wrap”. They already know the cue.This is usually the behaviour of babies who have for various reasons reached a stage of being very overtired and emotionally stretched, not unlike mum and dad!
- And if babies are well wrapped they are more likely to settle faster and stay settled. How many times have you gone into baby who has woken after a short time (and you are trying to grit your teeth and be patient) and you can see little octopus hands waving around the cot and a long way from the dreamland.
- I must admit if I had my way I would also love to tuck them in firmly to their cots or bassinets but not all the products on the market allow you to do this. But a little tip, you can roll up a cloth nappy or small towel and wedge one each side of the bed clothes into the side of the cot to create some firm tension and better outcomes, assisting your baby sleep patterns.
- Please note that when your baby is starting to actively roll which is usually from around 4-5 months of age (guide only as each baby reached developmental milestones at different ages) then it is time to transition your bub from the wrap to arms out. You can start with one arm so they get used to this exciting distraction and still go off to sleep, then the remaining arm. This is when those fabulous sleeping bags become useful particularly as now baby will be on the move around the cot. Take all the bed clothes out of the cot so there are no safety hazards and the sleeping bag will do the trick and keep them warm and safe. The sleeping bags available have different weights for different seasonal temperatures so you don’t have to worry if they become cold overnight. This supports the Sids and Kids research in terms of sleeping unencumbered without potential breathing hazards.
Personally I love the large stretchy cotton wraps that grow with your baby. They keep them secure and contained without uncomfortable constraints, and allow their hips to find a natural flexed position. Again there are many versions of wraps available, emulating straight jackets that even Houdini couldn’t escape from, and these are great for mums who struggle with the skill of wrapping, so go for it. The zip up versions must certainly must work for some babies, I just haven’t met them yet!
So if you’re still having trouble with settling your bub, then it’s a wrap!