As any new parent will quickly learn, there are a host of reasons why babies may cry. From hunger or tiredness to issues posed by teething, these problems can cause great distress to infants and trigger sustained bouts of crying and grizzling. The issue can be complicated further by a lack of clear understanding, as the primitive nature of a baby’s cry can make it hard to decipher exactly what the problem is.
This usually requires patience and a process of trial and error, although it should also be noted that babies can occasionally cry for no apparent or easily identifiable reason. While there is clearly an underlying trigger for this phenomenon, searching for this can be extremely time-consuming and stressful for both parents and child alike.
Why Swaddling might help your Distressed Child
Swaddling is a typical response to the noise of a baby crying, especially when there is no obvious motivation for this. UK readers will have noted that this practice has been at the centre of a national debate in recent times too, after media reports suggested that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton had used an Aden and Anais cloth to swaddle their infant son George.
This comes on the back of various medical studies in the UK, which have come to light after the Conservative government was re-elected in the recent general election. These studies claim that there is a link between swaddling and an increased risk of cot death, hip development problems and posture issues, although is also conflicting data which reaffirms the belief that this practice can help to calm a child safely and send them to sleep.
3 Reasons why Swaddling may help your Child and how to do it right
In terms of the latter, here are three reasons why swaddling may help to stop your baby crying, along with statistical support: –
1. Swaddling may reduce SIDS
Sudden infant death Syndrome (SIDS) is a devastating condition, and one that can cause families immense suffering and hardship. In 2007, however, the Journal of Pediatrics performed a meta-study to research the relationship between swaddling and the condition and made some startling discoveries. The results revealed that swaddling actively reduced the rate of SIDS, as long as children are swaddled correctly and prevented from inadvertently covering their heads or face with the cloth (or any surrounding bedding). It is also believed to prevent them from rolling onto their stomachs and incurring the risk of disrupted breathing patterns.
2. Swaddling can lead to improve neuromuscular development
This finding is at odds with a common belief that exists among parents, namely that a newborn child needs to have their hands free to that they are able to practice using their limbs. This ignores that the scientific fact that the vast majority of movement in your infant child’s limbs in involuntary and entirely random, and that it does little to aid neuromuscular development. In fact, immobilizing your child’s arms through swaddling actively helps them to develop enhanced motor skill organisation from a young age.
3. Swaddling can lead to a 28% reduction in your Baby crying
We have already stated how many parents swaddle their children to comfort them when they are distressed for no apparent reason, and this appears to be grounded in some form of factual data. According to the Baby Center, swaddling alone can lead to an estimated 28% reduction in crying while soothing infants quickly and effectively. This is not to say that safe and effective swaddling can completely prevent babies from crying, but it certainly works both as a supplementary soothing measure and as a standalone practice.
How to Swaddle your Child Safely
While these points may make a compelling argument for swaddling, they are reliant on a safe and compliant execution. Your child must never be put to sleep on their stomach, for example, while you must follow a precise ritual to ensure that they are unable to flip onto their stomach while swaddled. Swaddling is only ever to be used for babies laying on their backs, as otherwise you will increase the risk of SIDS and other potential complications.
In terms of best practice, start by laying a baby blanket on a flat surface and position it in a diamond shape. Then fold down the top corner, and place your child gently on their back with their neck on the fold. Then perform a right side tuck, holding their arm gently down flat at their side and pulling the left corner of the blanket across the body and over the right arm. You should then tuck it under the left arm and roll the baby gently to left and tuck the remaining material under their back.
At this point, make sure that your baby still has flexibility in their hips and can move these up and outwards. If this is the case, continue to hold your child’s left arm down at their side and pull the bottom corner of the blanket up over the left shoulder. Tuck any excess fabric around the left arm, before pulling the loose right corner taut and bringing it across your baby’s’ stomach. Be sure to roll the child gently to their right so that you can wrap the corner all the way around his back.
As you can see, the key with swaddling is to adhere to a strict code of conduct and best practice that ensures the safety of your child. Be sure to make an informed decision, however, and research the subject in great detail before determining what is right for you and your child.
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