Swaddling, also known as wrapping, is an age-old custom for comforting babies in many communities of the world, and, like most customs, there are good and not-so-good conditions for swaddling, or wrapping, babies.
Arms-free swaddling works with babies as they develop. It offers parents and babies a settling option as babies become more mobile. Arms-free swaddling enables babies to strengthen their initially limited capacities for regulating comfort, temperature and airway safety. A full body swaddle is fine for very small babies (less than 6-8 weeks), but as babies become more mobile they need their arms free.
Inappropriate swaddling, due to either the method, material, position in which a baby is placed, or a baby's stage of development, features in some cases of sudden infant death. Arms-free is a safe option for babies who are unable to roll to the front. (This happens from about 16 weeks).
Simple resources for health professionals
We were asked by Wellington Child and Youth Mortality Group to develop materials for supporting health professionals with discussing swaddling. Groups such as this see the consequences of inappropriate swaddling practices.
We have produced two simple resources, a Talk Card and a Video to support your conversations with families. These can be downloaded and used as presented here, but cannot be changed in any way, or used for commercial gain.
- Arms-Free Swaddling Talk Card to introduce the 'arms-free' option and guide a demonstration and discussion.
- Arms-Free Swaddling video to demonstrate arms-free swaddling with baby Arana
Three easy steps
Choose a light-weight swaddle and lay it out flat. Place baby on it on her back and centred on the swaddle, with the swaddle level with under her arms.
STEP 1: Across and tuck
Take the top corner of one side of the swaddle and pull it across baby. Tuck firmly under baby's body, keeping clear of her hips.
STEP 2: Across and tuck
Take the top corner of the other side of the swaddle and pull it across baby. Tuck firmly under baby on the other side, again keeping clear of hips.
STEP 3: Up and under the back
Use two hands and take the swaddle from the bottom edge, at the centre. Bring it up to baby's chest, level with under her arms. Use your two hands in a scissor action to wrap the swaddle under baby's back, sliding one hand over the other. If there is a tag of swaddling fabric left, pull it through and tuck it out of the way at the top.
We regret that we are only able to supply in hard copy if on a cost-recovery basis.
Swaddling discussions and articles on this website: Archives