Is Swaddling Your Baby Now Dangerous (and Illegal)?

Baby Swaddling Safety We’ve always recommended swaddling as a good (and safe) way to help soothe fussy newborns and to promote better baby naps and longer nighttime sleep. But, do we need to rethink our position on swaddling babies?

At this point, many daycares are banning swaddling and the American Academy of Pediatrics has labeled swaddling an “unsafe” practice in childcare settings. In fact, since December 2012 it is now illegal for child care centers in Minnesota to swaddle at all!

Why Are Daycares Banning Swaddling, and How Is It Affecting Babies?

So, what’s prompted this recent ban on swaddling? In 2011, a study by the National Resource Center on Child and Health Safety (NRC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded that swaddling can increase the risks of “serious health outcomes” and concluded that “swaddling is not necessary or recommended” in any childcare setting.

The AAP named several specific swaddling-related concerns, including:

  • Hip dysplasia or dislocation (tight swaddling increases the chances of hip problems.)
  • Loose blankets in the crib (if a baby breaks free of the swaddle, the blanket can cover his face, increasing the risk of SIDS.)
  • Stomach sleeping (if a swaddled baby is placed on her stomach to sleep, or if she rolls from her back to her stomach while swaddled, it increases the risk of SIDS.)
  • Improper swaddling technique in general (the AAP has concerns that not all childcare workers know how to safely swaddle babies.)

As you can imagine, this recent push to stop swaddling newborns and young infants has made a major impact on childcare providers. Daycare providers report that infants who used to sleep an hour or more at a time are now sleeping for 15-20 minutes (or not at all). This, of course, means there’s far more crying and fussiness for daycare staffers to deal with and lack of sleep isn’t good for the babies, especially! This has parents and caregivers alike feeling very, very frustrated.

Who Doesn’t Support the Ban?

As you know, most newborns need more gentle approaches to help them fall asleep, so what’s a family to do when they have a fussy newborn? We do offer newborn-friendly sleep coaching strategies in our e-book, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep, as well as newborn-focused Personalized Sleep Plans™ to help your newborn develop healthy sleep habits. But, it’s not as if child care employees can hold and rock every single wailing infant at the same time, after all; swaddling is likely one of the few methods childcare centers have to soothe all their babies simultaneously. Unfortunately, a persistent lack of daytime naps isn’t healthy for young babies, and it likely means less sleep at night, too — since the over-tiredness brought about by poor naps directly affects nighttime sleep.

However, if not done properly, swaddling can create issues (some of them serious). Swaddle a baby too loosely, and she’s likely to kick off her blanket. And loose blankets in the crib? A big no-no. Swaddle a baby too tightly, though, and you risk causing hip dysplasia or dislocation.

And there’s another big risk: A baby who’s snugly swaddled may still be able to roll over, from his back to his stomach. And a baby who’s swaddled and lying on his stomach is at an increased risk for suffocation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics may support the ban on swaddling in childcare centers, but not every baby expert agrees with this approach. Dr. Harvey Karp, the creator of the Happiest Baby on the Block books and DVDs, and an avid proponent of swaddling, has spoken out against this recent trend. He emphasizes that swaddling is an ancient and universally-used technique, and he points out that, in his opinion, the NRC hasn’t met the “burden of proof” they need to in order to issue such a sweeping recommendation. In their 2011 report, the NRC listed only five studies as references, and ignored the huge body of literature that highlights the benefits of swaddling. There have been others who have spoken out against the ban such as here and here.

But, does this mean you should ignore the NRC and AAP recommendations?

Should You Still Swaddle Your Baby? Safe Swaddling Tips and Techniques

It appears there’s always a study coming out showing something unsafe that was once safe. It’s hard to keep up with it all! As with many “recommendations” each family needs to weigh the pros and cons, make an educated decision, and do what’s best for their own baby and situation. This is true of many decisions you will need to make with your baby. For now, we wanted to share safe swaddling tips should you choose to swaddle your baby:

  • DO NOT SWADDLE TOO TIGHTLY – When you swaddle your baby, you may feel tempted to wrap him up as tightly as possible, so that he’ll be less likely to break free. Avoid that impulse, though. Babies who are wrapped too tightly may not be able to breathe well, and wrapping their legs too tightly can lead to hip dysplasia and dislocation. A baby’s legs should always be able to bend freely in the swaddle. Bottom line: babies should be wrapped snugly, but not tightly, in a light and breathable blanket. Note: Nicole used the Miracle Blanket with both her boys.
  • CHOOSE ARM/HAND POSITION – Historically, parents have swaddled babies with their arms by their sides. Recently, however, there’s been a push to swaddle babies with their hands by their faces. Supporters of this technique point out that it allows babies to self-soothe, by sucking on their fingers. They also point out that it gives baby a bit more mobility, which means that if baby does accidentally roll over while swaddled, she can do something about it.

    However, not everyone agrees. In a recent phone interview with Nicole, Dr. Karp explained that he still advocates for swaddling with arms by the sides. He shared that after the first few weeks of a baby’s life, his arms begin to relax and it’s more comfortable for most babies to have hands by the sides. He also pointed out that if babies’ hands are by their faces, they’re less likely to soothe themselves and more likely to hit/scratch themselves in the face (which is decidedly un-soothing!) He also pointed out that a baby who’s swaddled with hands by face is far more likely to break free of the swaddle, and that means loose blankets in the crib.

    All babies are different, so listen to your baby’s cues about what is most comfortable for her. If you do swaddle with arms by sides, be sure to leave a little flexion in the elbows — your baby’s arms shouldn’t be rigidly straight. If you swaddle with hands by face, be aware that you may need to check on baby regularly, to be sure she hasn’t broken free of the swaddle and loosened her blanket.

  • SUPERVISE YOUR BABY – To be completely safe, you should supervise your baby while he’s swaddled. That way, if the blankets come loose, or if he rolls over, you’re there to intervene. Many families of newborns tend to room share for closer monitoring.

    If you’re practicing safe swaddling techniques (using light cotton blankets, swaddling snugly but not tightly, etc.), you greatly reduce the risk that anything dangerous can happen to your baby while he’s swaddled. However, to be extra cautious, if you want to swaddle your baby for prolonged periods of time at night, you could invest in a movement monitor. A movement monitor does just what the name says — it monitors your baby’s movements. If your baby is completely still for too long, an alarm sounds, letting you know about it. Movement monitors are designed to combat SIDS, and to alert parents (or daycare staffers) to situations in which a baby might not be breathing.

For a demonstration on safe swaddling techniques, check out this video:

What are your thoughts on this topic? Are daycares going overboard by banning swaddling, or does this approach make sense to you? And, what has your swaddling experience been like? Share your insights, parents! We love to hear them.

Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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Comments

  1. Andrea K says

    We’ve tried unswaddling our daughter (she’s five and a half months old now), but she has what we call “crazy arms”. She won’t stop rubbing her eyes or knocking her pacifier out of her mouth – then she’s furious and screams for hours. Swaddle her arms, though, and she’s out like a light.

    I know we can’t keep it up forever, but I don’t know what else to do.

    We use a swaddle sleep sack with Velcro straps. She can’t get it around her face, and she’s a back sleeper, so I’m not worried about her rolling over on her face.

  2. Jules says

    If we weren’t able to swaddle our daughter, I doubt she would have slept at all when she was a newborn! It was a life saver for her and us. She was swaddled until she was almost six months old and she would fall asleep almost before we finished wrapping her. It was the best thing for her, and any siblings she may have will also be swaddled, no matter what these so called experts may say. What a nanny state we live in when soothing our children becomes a matter of public debate. Karp’s book is wonderful and I recommend it to anyone who is expecting.

  3. Mary says

    We swaddled for calming purposes only. Our little man was a mover in his sleep from an early age and liked having his hands free. We found that when he moved from his rocker to the crib the sleep sacks were the best for him. We used the ones that had the wrap around the chest area but kept his arms free until he was 6 months. Then we moved to the regular sleep sacks until he could walk at 9 months. After that it was regular pjs. I can see where it could be unsafe but you have to do what is right for you and your child. I think the sleep sacks with the velcro around the middle mimic the swaddling which help and also keeps it from coming undone and creating the hazard.

  4. Jennifer M says

    We’re not swaddling fans. My son HATED to be restrained in any way whatsoever. I’ve got three kids, 22 yo, 19 yo and now 9 months old – no swaddling. Two of them slept 7 hours a night at 8 weeks, the other woke up once a night until she was about 3.

  5. Stephanie says

    I agree that swaddling can be unsafe, especially in a childcare setting. I have heard of childcare givers swaddling and then placing on stomach, or parents swaddling during sleep training. How horrible and sad for the helpless babies! Frankly many people are uneducated or lack common sense and compassion, and poor swaddling technique and usage is yet another example.

  6. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Andrea K — So glad to hear that swaddling is such a powerful tool for you! I know, though, that it can be kind of a mixed blessing, because (as you mention) you can’t do it forever.

    This article about weaning your baby from the swaddle may be helpful to you: http://www.babysleepsite.com/tag/weaning-from-swaddle/

    Thanks for commenting, Andrea! :)

    @ Jules — good point. :) I do understand the push to ensure that daycare and childcare centers are operating as safely as possible, but it does seem unbalanced, doesn’t it?

    Thanks for commenting, Jules.

    @ Mary — thanks for mentioning the sleep sack! While those don’t work well for every baby, they make a great, safe alternative to swaddling with a regular blanket. And they can be great for weaning your baby from the swaddle, too.

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Mary! :)

    @ Jennifer M — it’s not for every baby, that’s for sure! ;) All 3 of mine liked to be swaddled when they were newborns, but they were over it in the first 3 months.

    Thanks for sharing a little bit about your experience, Jennifer!

  7. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Stephanie — yes, I can see how poor swaddling technique can be dangerous. It seems to me, though, that making sweeping legislation that bans all swaddling in all childcare situations (like the state of Minnesota has done) is overkill. I feel like there must be more reasonable approaches, like asking parents to sign a waiver, or requiring parents to provide their own swaddling blankets, or requiring childcare workers to get training in safe sleeping and swaddling techniques.

    Still, I know some people think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Thanks for weighing in, Stephanie!

  8. Lil says

    I think that we can’t keep banning things just because a few people are clueless how to use it. Swaddling is a great tool, and like any tool, needs to be done and used the proper way. My DD had horrible colic for four months and had all kind of sleep problems in her first year, and was swaddled and slept in a swing almost the whole first year because she could not control her arms to go to sleep and would or could not sleep anywhere else at night. We used a Woombie, and her legs were free to do as they pleased, and her hands and arms were free inside the suit to be in whatever position she felt comfortable. She couldn’t break out of it because it zipped up and I’m convinced it saved my life because even with these tools it was a most horrible year. Without swaddling she just simply would have never slept. I think that there are alternatives out there to using a blanket, and that if a parent is having difficulty mastering the art of the perfect blanket swaddle they can use something else. Banning swaddling altogether is just going to stress out already stressed out parents even more I think.

  9. Melissa says

    We just weaned our 4 month old from swaddling. We didn’t start out swaddling him, but by 10 days old he constantly startled himself awake. He’s a large baby – and strong – so traditional swaddles never worked. After doing research, we chose the Woombie, which looks a bit like a cocoon. It’s a stretchy cotton fitted sack that zips up the front and hugs the baby. It allows arm movement inside close to the body, so our little guy was able to pull his arms anywhere along the side and front of his torso, including up by his face if he wanted. But controlled flailing arms when he startled. And it was loose enough that it gave room for his legs to spread some, addressing the hip dysplasia concerns. When he hit 3 months we switched to a version with arm holes that we could open or close, and that allowed us to wean him. Once a week we tried having him sleep at night with 1 arm out. First 3 weeks it didn’t work, but right at 4 months he slept through the night with 1 arm out. So we did that for a whole week, then 1 week later we popped the other arm out and – voila – he slept with arms unswaddled. A few days later we switched to a sleep sack to give him lots of room for movement for his legs, no more swaddling. Transition worked like a charm. I think there are a lot of different products on the market that take into account the various health and safety concerns and enable an easier transition away from swaddling, such that people don’t have to rely exclusively on traditional swaddling if they aren’t comfortable with it. But in the end, people have to do what works for them. I know our baby needed it, and once he didn’t need it anymore transitioning away was pretty easy.

  10. Anna says

    I feel it’s preposturous to ban swaddling in childcare centers on the basis that a baby can break out and end up with loose blankets in the crib OR turn over and suffocate! Babies in such centers – whether they are swaddled or not – should be checked on frequently. It’s not like they are being put down for a nap and the caregivers all go to sleep for 2 hours! It takes almost no time to look over all the cribs with sleeping babies to make sure they are all ok. It would make much more sense to require that caregivers in a childcare center get trained on safe swaddling techniques and are instructed to not leave sleeping babies unattended for long periods of time.

  11. Emily Slade says

    My child would have been at much greater risk for me losing my cool in the night if it weren’t for the swaddle, so I’d say the cost benefit analysis goes in favor of the swaddle! He was already a terrible sleeper. If you’d taken our swaddle away. . .I can’t even imagine how we would have survived!

  12. Jenn says

    I worked in a classroom with eight 4 month old babies with only one other teacher besides myself. It is hard enough to care for that many and keep them happy. Swaddling was a lifesaver! If I was told I could not swaddle the babies then honestly I probably would have quit. I would also have recommended for parents to take their babies out of daycare all together because the babies and care givers would just be miserable all day long with lack of sleeping babies. It is a very hard job already especially when you are trying to keep the babies happy and trying to spend a little one on one with each baby throughout the day when others are sleeping…I couldn’t even imagine!!!

  13. Ellen says

    I completely agree with what Lil said.

    We had mixed results with swaddling. I have to say that the Miracle Blanket is NOT infallible! We stopped swaddling our first when I came in and found her out of it… with the long part wrapped around her neck!!! She was an extremely active sleeper and even when swaddled got all around her crib and apparently kicked her feet high enough to loosen her arms and escape from even the “Miracle”. This was at about 3 months of age, so we decided to ditch it altogether. She never seemed to love it, but had a strong startle reflex & it seemed to help her sleep a bit better, which is why we did it to begin with. After that experience, I decided to try NOT swaddling our second, which worked well! That said, the ease may have been due to her temperament and being a sleepier baby in general.

    It would be a shame to ban swaddling altogether, especially when something like the Woombie is available, which seems to be an excellent compromise. That said, I think even Dr. Karp would agree that after 3 months (the ‘4th trimester’), it is time to start letting babies figure out how to sleep without it. Waiting doesn’t make it easier, and it’s at those older ages the side effects can start to worsen.

  14. Emily says

    We use theWoombie swaddle sack. It is not too tight, allows baby to have hands up on chest, and completely negates any worry about loose blankets. The two way zipper makes it extremely easy to use and Di diaper changes. I’ve tried various methods and this works best for us. I know that the military daycare here allows swaddling only with Halo sleep sacks and swasdlers.

  15. Catriona says

    The love to dream swaddle up saved our sanity! It’s a zip up swaddle sack in which baby’s arms are swaddled in wings by face for self soothing. It’s made of light cotton so not too hot and is snug but stretchy so no hip concerns. I recommend it to everyone – our daughter self weaned herself of it at 7 months but until then it was only way she would nap in crib!

  16. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Lil — good point! I like your last sentence: “Banning swaddling altogether is just going to stress out already stressed out parents even more I think.” That’s a good point. Not to mention, it’s going to stress out already stressed-out childcare workers!

    Thanks for commenting, Lil!

    @ Melissa — thanks for sharing these specific details! They’re really helpful, especially for parents who may be in a situation similar to yours. :)

    @ Anna — agreed. It seems like mandating more oversight for swaddling would make more sense than banning the practice altogether. Thanks for making this point.

    @ Emily Slade — ha! I love that — a cost-benefit analysis for swaddling. I guarantee you’re not the only mom who feels this way. Thanks for sharing this observation, Emily! (Also — beautiful name. One of my favorites. ;) )

  17. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Jenn — you bring a helpful insight to this conversation, since you have childcare experience, so thanks for chiming in! I agree; I can’t imagine how chaotic a daycare that’s banned swaddling must be during the day. Can’t be a good environment for young infants. :(

    @ Ellen — wow — thanks for sharing your experience with using the Miracle Blanket. Scary! But a good reminder that even the most “infallible” baby products are plenty fallible.

    @ Emily — another vote for the Woombie! I think that makes 3 now. Glad to hear this has been such a great product for you! And interesting point about daycares requiring special swaddling blankets. That seems like it would be a more reasonable option than banning swaddling entirely.

    Thanks for commenting, Emily! And great name, by the way. ;)

    @ Catriona — thanks for recommending this! I haven’t heard of it, but it’s always nice to know about all the options available.

  18. angela says

    My son would never sleep unless swaddled, some babies just need it to feel comfortable. When he got older I actually had to train him to sleep unswaddled – the legs were easier but he hated having his arms loose! My sister introduced me early on to a product called Woombie, I highly recommend it instead of wraps. Its basically a very stretchy bag you zip onto your baby, when they are not wiggling it gives them the feeling of closeness, but they can very easily stretch their arms and legs all around inside of it. It saved me from worrying that he would get trapped on his belly, because it still allowed him to push his arms out in front of him if needed. they have their own website, and ive also seen them on amazon if its of interest to anyone.

  19. Jenn M says

    I will say with both of my babies swaddling did work for this first month or so, but soon after it became clear that they were no longer fans of it, and it was no longer safe for them with blankets being kicked off, and rolling over, and the velco-tupe swaddlers were even worse for them. That said, the transition from swaddling to sleep sack at the 1-2 month mark wasn’t exactly easy unfortunately. The first few nights were bad and it was a few weeks before they really seemed to settle into it, bit it is something that has to happen at one poiint or another. So in my experience it does help babies with the immediate transition from the womb to the outside world,but was definitely not a long term sleep tool. I can see the potential dangers of it, but as many people also pointed out a severely sleep deprived parent isn’t a great option either. I remember wondering a few times when my first especially was a newborn if I should be driving with such a lack of sleep. I think pediatricians and the AAP should recognize that not all babies are exactly the same so a “one size fits all” approach may be dangerous as well. It woulld be better if they made sleep style a topic to cover at all well-baby visits and worked more closely with the parents to make sure they are doing what is best for each individual baby. I know it wasn’t something I used for very long with my babies,but to say everyone else’s children are just like mine would seem a little silly!

  20. Becky says

    I have a 9 month old who is still swaddled and absolutely loves it. Her arms are down at her sides and now that she is older she can turn over, by herself, to find a comfortable position. I don’t plan on weaning her from it until she is ready, I feel like her being swaddled is a key part of her sleep routine and am not about to change anything that is still working! It really is a shame that something like swaddling could be banned and even illegal when it can truly help so many young babies. Like other comments have said there is no way child care providers can hold every crying baby at the same time. I feel like this is not good for baby or care provider and will only create more stress for everyone involved. I probably would not leave my baby with someone who said they wouldn’t swaddle her because of how much she needs it and enjoys it. Sleep is like gold and nothing should ever come between a baby and their sleep!

  21. Michelle Kempnich says

    It’s amazing how things change, even in a few years since I had my first son I’m astounded by the changes in opinions in that short time. Like Catriona, I also use the “Love to Dream” swaddle – I believe it’s the easiest thing I’ve used and I’ve road tested a few of the more innovative swaddles on the market and this was a sanity saver. It’s so easy to use and everyone in the family is able to reliably swaddle the baby, and nappy changes can be done without having to remove it. It advocates the medical research about hip problems and allows the baby to sleep in the natural arms up position. My baby has a self soothing routine of rubbing his hands over his nose and face but he’s protected from being scratched and he can suck on his hands through the fabric without getting free.
    In fact, last night I realised all the Love to Dream swaddles were all still drying on the line and only had a dirty one from the daytime. I tried putting my 4 month baby into a sleeping bag (0-6 months size) and he was completely lost – his arms were flailing everywhere and he was unable to control them in that half-sleep state. After the 4th waking I ended up putting him back into the slightly dirty swaddle and he was calm and happy again.
    I’m in Australia and I get mine from this wonderful website that stocks only mum-tested and practical products
    http://wrigglepot.com.au/categories/Swaddle-Wraps/Love-To-Dream-%28Love-Me-Baby%29-Wraps/
    I don’t usually promote products but as a mother of a very lively almost 4 year old (with dreadful sleep ability) and a 4 month old with sleeping potential, this has really made life with a new baby so so much easier. They are in sizes up to 11kg which is also great. It’s a safe, comfortable and guaranteed swaddle solution.

  22. karen says

    I can’t speak to swaddling in daycare centers, but in your own home where you are only supervising your own baby, I say exercise common sense. Use a swaddle blanket with velcro (like Halo’s Sleepsack Swaddle) if you’re afraid you’re swaddling so tight that you’re restricting baby’s leg movement. Those type of blankets are loose on the bottom so baby’s legs and hips can move around as much as he wants, while keeping his arms swaddled comfortably. Know your baby – STOP SWADDLING once baby can roll over! (Duh!)

  23. Frede M. says

    We swaddled our daughter, using both blankets and the sleep sack. After about 6 months she weaned herself successfully. Of course, we have other issues with her sleep, which are connected to her reflux (she’s now 3 going on 4), but it worked well. I, too, feel that such draconian decsions regarding what daycares should or should not do with swaddling is overkill. I’m open to hearing more about these risks associated with swaddling, but I just wonder how this all emerged in the first place. It wasn’t as if there were all these unbelievable reports of children having hip problems or an increase in SIDS related deaths in daycares. What prompted this? I think so many people are fearful of SIDS that they are willing to do whatever they can to prevent it, understandably, but as it still stands, no one has found a definitive cause, and therefore, a lot of what has been done over the years to prevent it has been speculative or intuitive, with some evidence of risks based on research. I think more needs to be focused on daycares that are understaffed and overwhelmed and can’t safely protect children and infants in other ways. Not to minimize this new concern with swaddling. I work with children and families and all too often I hear about issues that put children at risk for so much more harm in some daycare settings. By no means am I intending to put down the daycare industry – I personally use daycare for my daughter. It just always seems to me that the medical field tries to fit human culture and lifestyle into these predictable compartments, which inadvertently cause us to loose touch with our intuitive sense as caregivers when it comes to taking care of our children. There needs to be a balance that respects both time-honored practices that have worked, and emerging research that’s based on sound science and replicatability. We’re so quic as a society to react and change things without really studying something and learning from time. The cross-cultural tradition of swaddling came from centuries of observation and attunement to babies. Science can take a lesson from history and apply it to its quick need to prove and verify. If I had another child, I would continue to swaddle until I read more proven research, over time, that demonstrates a significant risk.

  24. Michelle says

    It’s amazing how things change, even in a few years since I had my first son I’m astounded by the changes in opinions in that short time. Like Catriona, I also use the “Love to Dream” swaddle – I believe it’s the easiest thing I’ve used and I’ve road tested a few of the more innovative swaddles on the market and this was a sanity saver. It’s so easy to use and everyone in the family is able to reliably swaddle the baby, and nappy changes can be done without having to remove it. It advocates the medical research about hip problems and allows the baby to sleep in the natural arms up position. My baby has a self soothing routine of rubbing his hands over his nose and face but he’s protected from being scratched and he can suck on his hands through the fabric without getting free.
    In fact, last night I realised all the Love to Dream swaddles were all still drying on the line and only had a dirty one from the daytime. I tried putting my 4 month baby into a sleeping bag (0-6 months size) and he was completely lost – his arms were flailing everywhere and he was unable to control them in that half-sleep state. After the 4th waking I ended up putting him back into the slightly dirty swaddle and he was calm and happy again.
    I don’t usually promote products but as a mother of a very lively almost 4 year old (with dreadful sleep ability) and a 4 month old with sleeping potential, this has really made life with a new baby so so much easier. They are in sizes up to 11kg which is also great. It’s a safe, comfortable and guaranteed swaddle solution.

  25. Kerri says

    If we didn’t swaddle, our LO would not have slept wink. It was a life saver for us. She started breaking out of it at 4 months, so we swaddled for awhile with one arm, then none, and then she was done. Had she rolled over sooner on her own, we would have weened her at that time. But oh my, had we not swaddled, it would have been VERY rough. Swaddling may not work for everyone, but good grief,s banning swaddling is ridiculous!

  26. Marcia says

    While I can understand and appreciate people’s concern on this topic, my own personal health would not have survived had my own children not been swaddled. And then my children’s health would have been adversely effected after I had lost my mind. I do think that learning how to swaddle correctly is important, but for us swaddling was a life saver!

  27. Monique says

    Wow…what will we try to ban next? I agree with others who said that you can’t put a ban on everything because a few people are clueless. As a parent you keep an eye on your baby. Childcare centers have rules about how many carers per baby, so they can keep an eye on them. I’d say maybe it should become part of a child carer’s education. They learn to change diapers, make formula, feed babies, etc. So why not teach them the correct techniques for swaddling. I believe that swaddling helps for some babies, probably not all. But for those parents who like their baby swaddles, should be able to have the baby swaddled at day care. We swaddled my daughter, and always sound asleep. We had no issue weaning her off. At one stage she started to wiggle her arm and then both arms out, so I started to swaddle leaving her arms out. At one point it got to tight to get her into a baby blanket, after we moved to those Halo sleeping bags. She was perfectly happy. She is 25 months now, probably sleeping in PJs for about a year now. She moves so much that she can’t stay under a blanket or sheet. But she is keeping herself warm enough somehow. Anyway, I’m pro swaddling, just need to be educated on how to do it safely.

  28. Christy says

    We used the Halo sleep sack and then graduated to the truewomb when they could get their arms free from the halo. The truewomb had light stretchy material and the arms are across the chest in sleeves with the ends sewn shut that velcro so she could get her hand to her mouth and chew it through the cloth but couldnt get free. Once our daughter could roll over we stopped and now she is happy sleeping on her tummy. I feel like the AAPs next step is going to be to tell us we have to stay awake and watch them 24/7 for truly safe babies, which without tummy or swaddle is pretty much what would have happened at my house.

  29. Laura says

    I agree that it might be better to train daycare workers in safe swaddling techniques, but I see the need for this ban. Maybe I am a bit jaded because we had a bad daycare experience, but there are so many people coming and going from the rooms, it makes sense to me to just simplify things by limiting potential hazards. The center we used, a nationwide chain, prohibits swaddling, and to me that makes sense – it’s hard for every teacher to know which baby can roll over, break out of a swaddle, etc, and every baby is so different. Asking parents to bring their own blanket/swaddle product just increases the likelihood of misuse and confusion amongst teachers, in my opinion. We used several different swaddle products (and we are on our second swaddle transition product!) and by the time we finally found one that fit our baby and that she couldn’t break out of, she was rolling over. Even though she ‘needed’ the swaddle at night, she napped just fine without it at daycare.

  30. Sam says

    This worked well for us with my bub.
    http://www.lovetodream.com.au/babySwaddle_original.htm
    It’s a zipped up swaddle and has the hands covered but next to the face, thus no scratching and they can self soothe still :)
    Best product ever!
    Wish it was around when I had my boy too… He was and still is a really bad sleeper at almost 3

  31. Emily DeJeu says

    @ angela — the Woombie is proving popular in our comments today! Thanks for sharing these details of your experience, Angela, and for recommending something that worked well for you. :)

    @ Jenn M — that’s a good point, about the AAP issuing a one-size-fits-all kind of recommendation when they state that swaddling is dangerous in childcare situations. We’re not exactly fans of one-size-fits-all approaches here at the Baby Sleep Site™. ;)

    Thanks for commenting, Jenn!

    @ Becky — “nothing should ever come between a baby and their sleep” — amen! How true that is. Sleep is so important for young children. And you’re right; it does seem that in an effort to help, and to make things safer, the groups that issued this recommendation may in fact be doing unintentional harm to babies.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Becky!

  32. Emily DeJeu says

    @ karen — yes. While it may still be up in the air, as to whether or not swaddling is the best approach in childcare centers, I don’t think anyone would say that it’s dangerous to do at home, provided you swaddle safely and supervise your baby.

    For my part, I found that once my kids were able to roll over, they were frequently busting out of the swaddle. And I felt that was my cue to stop swaddling.

    Thanks for sharing, Karen!

    @ Frede M — you make some excellent points here! I especially like your point about large organizations like the AAP and the NRC trying to fit humanity into neat compartments (a practice which is doomed to fail in many ways.) And I agree; it seems a bit draconian to me too.

    Thanks for sharing these observations, Frede!

    @ Michelle — thanks for this endorsement of the Love to Dream swaddle! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of these; I’m going to have to do some internet research today, to educate myself. ;)

  33. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Kerri — I had a similar experience. My kids were pretty over the swaddle by 3-4 months, but in those first few months, it was an absolute lifesaver.

    Thanks for commenting, Kerri!

    @ Marcia — “And then my children’s health would have been adversely effected after I had lost my mind.” Ha! Yes to that! Sometimes, what’s best for mom is also best for baby, precisely because it’s best for mom. ;)

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Marcia!

    @ Monique — yes. I totally agree. It seems the issue here is that some childcare workers don’t know how to swaddle properly, or how to properly supervise a swaddled baby. But as you point out, the solution isn’t to ban the practice of swaddling; it’s to teach childcare workers how to swaddle properly.

    Thanks for commenting, Monique!

  34. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Christy — “I feel like the AAPs next step is going to be to tell us we have to stay awake and watch them 24/7 for truly safe babies…” Yes! That’s the danger of putting safety above common sense. The safest scenario isn’t necessarily do-able in real life, as you point out. Excellent point. Thanks for making it, Christy!

    @ Laura — thanks for sharing your thoughts, especially since they’re different than the majority of other commenters’ opinions. We really like having a variety of voices comment our our articles. And while I personally think a ban on swaddling is extreme, I can see your point (especially since, as you point out, you had a bad daycare experience.)

    Thanks for making this point, Laura, and for weighing in with your opinion! :)

  35. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Sam — thanks for including this link for the Love to Dream swaddle! This is a new one for me; I hadn’t heard of it before yesterday.

  36. Katie says

    Every child is so different. Our first (now 5yo!!) could not sleep without a swaddle. But pull her arms down to her sides and she instantly went from full throated scream to lights out. Literally in seconds. It was amazing! So we swaddled her with light cotton blankets until she was 9 months old. When our son was born (he’s almost 9 months), we assumed he’d be the same. Boy were we wrong! He would fuss until his arms were loose, and then put himself to sleep with arms fully outstretched, super cute :). Our daycares (2 different states) have always had a no swaddling policy. For our son, no big deal, he’s a natural sleeper most of the time. But for our daughter it meant that she only napped in the swing at school. I understand the ban because of the potential for tragic consequences but it does make life difficult for those of us with jobs and babies who like to be swaddled!

  37. Michelle says

    I’m from Australia and get mine from a local website that only sells mum-tested products (I’ve tested some myself). The Love to Dream Swaddle is also available in baby shops but I’m not sure if it’s limited to Australia or not. This is the link to the website I use where you can a variety of the Love to Dream swaddles. Honestly, they’re a god send and make breastfeeding and rocking a baby SOOO much easier and you don’t have to worry about them coming unwrapped through the night when we’re all half asleep! They’re also really easy to roll up and throw in the nappy bag – it allows my baby to sleep better when we’re out visiting or even in the stroller at the shops. It’s definitely a positive sleep association item for him.

    http://wrigglepot.com.au/categories/Swaddle-Wraps/Love-To-Dream-%28Love-Me-Baby%29-Wraps/

    Cheers!

  38. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Katie — yes! It’s crazy how different siblings can be, isn’t it? And thanks for sharing your daycare experience. Honestly, I had no idea until reading the Huffington Post article that swaddling was banned in many daycare centers. Such a difficult problem; I respect the desire to put safety first, but I wonder about the feasibility of this long-term.

    Thanks for commenting, Katie!

  39. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Michelle — Thanks for the link! I shared it with our sleep consultants. It looks like it is available here in the states, via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Love-To-Dream-Swaddle-Medium/dp/B005MATQNK/tag?=pinisbir20 (fyi — that’s an affiliate link, for anyone who may click on it)

    So glad you and a few other commenters have mentioned this blanket. Like I said to @ Sam, this is a new one for me — I hadn’t heard of it until I started reading the comments, so thanks for enlightening me! :)

  40. says

    There are apparently pros and cons to swaddling. Personally, I did not swaddle my children and I raised seven. I/we used other means of getting them settled and sleeping through the night by about 8 to 9 weeks old. My mother taught all of us how to do it.

    Just thinking out the box, are babies swaddled in the womb? I believe that once we use a “‘method with a baby they simply get used to it and yes, it’s going to be an additional task when we decide the “method” such as swaddling, is no longer good/safe, for whatever reason. One of the articles indicated that if a parent/caregiver decides to swaddle anyway, they should “check” the baby periodically, which seems to be a little more work and an additional source of anxiety for the parent. I believe self-soothing is key and learning it early is great. That may be why my babies slept through the night soon after birth. Me and my family just used a different method than swaddling so there was no need to see what was going to happen when we didn’t swaddle.

  41. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Harriet Watson — I understand what you’re saying, about anything we have to “do” to make baby sleep becoming a potential crutch that causes hassles down the road. And swaddling certainly can be that.

    It doesn’t have to be, though. And I’d push back a little against your point about babies not being swaddled in the womb. Swaddling is an ancient and universal technique that mimics the womb, helping babies to feel as comfortable and as secure as they were in utero.

    However, to each his own. :) What works for some doesn’t always work for others.

    Thanks for commenting, Harriet!

  42. Heidi Pfeifle says

    For my daughter, I swaddled for the first few weeks as it than got hot. Our daycare provider started swaddling her again when she was around 5 months old because she would not go to sleep. When continued swaddling her until at least 18 months every night and sometimes for naps. We then would swaddle her on and off until just after her 2nd birthday. She slept on her stomach but was always able to move around. Her dad swaddled her very tightly.

    With our twins, 6 months old now, we have swaddled from day one. At about 3 months old, we discovered that one of the twins slept better swaddled and on his stomach. The other twin still sleeps on his back.

    Swaddling has helped all of my children to sleep better.

  43. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Heidi — thanks for sharing some of the details of your personal experience with swaddling. Glad to hear it’s been such an effective technique for your kids!

    Thanks for commenting, Heidi. :)

  44. Jennifer Everhart says

    My husband & I swaddled both of our children. I’m a huge supporter! Our son would have let us swaddle him until he was a year, if we had blankets that would have fit! LOL He’s a stomach sleeper, so once he started rolling over, we stopped swaddling him. Our daughter is still a back sleeper, however, she’s extremely wiggly. Once she started kicking off the blankets, we stopped swaddling her. We had an issue with her pulling the blanket up to her face after that, though. Scary stuff! I became even more paranoid about SIDS, then. (It’s always been a fear of mine, so I read a ton of material on how to best prevent it from happening.) I would like to see them do more studies on this before giving a definitive answer.

  45. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Jennifer Everhart — that’s an insightful statement, about wanting to see more studies done before forming an opinion. That’s one of the things I found interesting when writing the article — the NRC (org. that made the recommendation to daycares to stop swaddling) cited 5 studies in support of their recommendation. Not many at all! So yes, it would see that more research needs to be done.

    Thanks for commenting, Jennifer, and for sharing some of the details of your own swaddling experience. :)

  46. Melissa Obilo says

    I swaddled my baby until she started moving too much at night then I had to stop, though she has never pulled the blankets over her face (she detests having her face covered). They should do comprehensive studies about swaddling so that they can offer parents concise information instead of scaring them!

  47. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Melissa Obilo — good point! Sometimes, it does feel like all these steps taken by organizations like the APA and the NRC are designed less to be helpful and more to be terrifying!!

    Thanks for commenting, Melissa. :)