Swaddling Increases SIDS

Katherine - posted on 12/26/2010 ( 23 moms have responded )

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The art of swaddling is something many the father brags about being an expert in, and hospitals often take a newborn, wipe them off, swaddle them tightly and hand them back to mom within the first ten minutes after birth.



We've heard it makes babies sleep longer or better, prevents them from waking themselves up when they startle, and overall, helps babies be more secure.



Right?



But the problem is, it has negative health impacts, and even increases the risk of SIDS.



Skin-on-skin contact, a.k.a. Kangaroo Care, is incredibly important to newborns. It can literally make the difference between life and death, as mom's body is designed to hold a newborn to warm them (no need for machines when mom is better, unless there's a medical reason mom can't hold baby right away). When on mom's chest, especially skin-to-skin, baby's breathing begins to mimic mom's respiration and even the heart rate levels out.



Breastfeeding in the first hour, but as soon as possible even in that hour, is optimal for baby's initial health, since after about an hour or two, baby goes into a deep "recovery" sleep, and then will wake up ravenous, which can make the first feeding incredibly difficult. When baby is swaddled, their senses are dulled and they can't use their hands to help them locate the breast and nipple. Yes, you can raise baby to your breast, but when they are allowed to be an active participant and get comfortable and naturally curl their arms around the breast or even knead it with their tiny hands to encourage letdown and flow, it goes more smoothly.



Swaddling during those hospital days can make can make a huge difference in the baby's health and the success of initial breastfeeding and weight gain.



Swaddled babies separated during their first two hours lost more weight.



Swaddled babies kept in the nursery were colder and consumed less milk.



Swaddled babies in the nursery lost more weight despite consuming more formula. Possible reasons for this that the researchers suggested include:



* Severely limiting baby’s movements is stressful, which burns more calories.

* Swaddled babies receive less touch, which can compromise growth in preterm babies.



Pretty major impact, isn't it?



Swaddling, especially the tight swaddles dads pride themselves on, have even been showing evidence of being a significant factor in hip dysplasia. The AAP even recommends that pediatricians who find out their patients swaddle do Ortolani and Barlow examinations to test for a hip click, and that if it's present, they should advise their patients to stop swaddling immediately. The reason some more primitive cultures don't have this issue with their 24/7 swaddled babies is they're wrapped in the frog position, with the legs folded up almost cross-legged, like they are in the womb.



Now, I know a lot of people swear their baby needs to be swaddled to sleep well, and that they sleep better that way and don't wake themselves up as often, but unfortunately, contrary to our country's belief that the most important thing in a baby is making them sleep well, too deep or secure of sleep is actually a bad thing -- it can make babies sleep through feedings they need, causing breastfeeding supply issues, poor weight gain and even delay the drop of bilirubin levels. It even increases the risk of SIDS by TWELVE TIMES. I'll tell you, that was not something I knew or even expected as I pulled up resources for this article. Why are we not told this?!



After everything I've read about swaddling, it seems the only benefit is less interrupted sleep for baby ... at risk of breastfeeding failure, hip problems, weight gain problems, and even death. So pardon me, but I'm never going to swaddle a baby ever again.



Did you know any of this? Do you swaddle your babies?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Anastasia - posted on 05/31/2012

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Hi,
statistics and research are never that simple. Here are a few questions:

1. Swaddled babies separated during their first two hours lost more weight. - Have those babies been "controlled" for compound variables: medical conditions, difficult birth for mother, complications for the baby during labor, etc.?

Swaddled babies kept in the nursery were colder and consumed less milk. - Which nursery? at home or in the hospital or at childcare?

Swaddled babies in the nursery lost more weight despite consuming more formula. Possible reasons for this that the researchers suggested include:

* Severely limiting baby’s movements is stressful, which burns more calories. - Anyone suggests to swaddle them like on a mental ward?
* Swaddled babies receive less touch, which can compromise growth in preterm babies. - Ah! So the study was done on preterm babies? Well, THAT is a whole different cattle of fish


SIDS rarely occurs in infants in the first couple of days in the hospital, so how did the research linked being swaddled in the hospital (where I presume the measurements of temperature, milk consumption etc. were done) and what happened after babies when home?

I waddled both kids. First until he was 6 months but only because he really did wake himself up and couldn't fall asleep) second - may be for a week or two - he was a star-fish baby, loved to sleep with legs and arms wide spread. I'd say- follow your child and not the book:-)

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23 Comments

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Katherine - posted on 06/12/2012

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LOL, this thread is so old. But I'm so glad to see people posting in this community!

Kristina - posted on 06/12/2012

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Not sure I agree with this. Both of my boys loved to be swaddled. I have a 3 month old that I still swaddle. He could be screaming bloody murder and the second hes swaddled he stops crying. Secondly its normall for infants to loose 20% of their body weight a few days after being born. My son was swaddled within the first 2 hpurs and was in the nursery and he didnt loose weight. When we left the hospital the pediatrician was suprised to see my son had gained 3oz instead of loosing weight like most babies do. I can see if infants were swaddled andd laid on their stomachs that it could increase SIDS. But I dont see how they could suffocate if they are swaddled and laid on their backs because it decreases movement. Thus making it less likely for them to die from SIDS. Also the fact that some cultures children have hip displaysia from being carried on their parents backs is due to the fact that they arent in the sling right. Their is a right way and a wrong way for it. They even warn you about it when you buy certain baby wraps.

Katherine - posted on 05/31/2012

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Not at all. Are you in the group debating mums? You should be lol!

Anastasia - posted on 05/31/2012

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Hi Katherine
I hope my reply didn't come across too harsh, wasn't meant to!

Katherine - posted on 05/31/2012

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I swaddled too Anastasia. My daughters liked it. Not sure I totally agree with this article.

Cyndel - posted on 05/28/2012

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I've never swaddled, mostly because with my oldest he was so big I could't swaddle with the small blankets I had, and with my second I wore him so much that swaddling wasn't necessary. But no I won't be swaddling.

Julie - posted on 04/20/2012

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Swaddling is safe if done properly. The only time it is a danger if you swaddle your baby and lay them on their tummies because they can't roll themselves over. It's the laying them on their tummies that increases SIDS not swaddling.

Katelyn - posted on 04/19/2012

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My 2 month old daughter loves to be swaddled also, but now reading this, it scares me to do it anymore. I also use swaddlers instead of blankets, one of which was provided by the HOSPITAL! I have a friend that just lost a baby due to SIDS and i have not stopped thinking about it since. I am terrified and now another thing to add to it- swaddling. ugh. Well thank you for the information.

Stephanie - posted on 02/24/2012

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I use swaddlers instead of blankets to swaddle because it keeps my daughters lets loose but keeps her arms closed to her... My daughter loves being swaddled and she sleeps much better because she doesn't wake herself up as much but she still wakes up to eat. I keep her room nice and cool too so that she doesn't get overheated and the swaddlers that I use aren't really heavy so it keeps her confortable.. The swaddlers have velcro on them to keep it in place so that she can't pull it up over her face and it doesn't allow you to make it too tight!! I love my swaddlers and so does my daughter and I think if you use them instead of using blankets to swaddle it is much safter.

Julie - posted on 01/08/2011

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Swaddling only increases sids risk when the baby is put to sleep on his or her stomach or the blanket used is too warm. If used properly, swaddling reduces sids risks.

Julie - posted on 01/04/2011

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I swaddled with both my babies and they slept all night. I do it now with my second one and it calms her right down. I am going to have to wean her from it soon though.She only spends time at night swaddled and her legs are relatively loose. It also helps keep her on her back and her airway free because I there's no loose blanket to cover her face. I don't trust my self to co sleep with her as I have no control when I am sleeping. Recently a nine month old in our area died while sleeping in bed with her parents. She had crawled to the end of the bed and suffocated. There is no way to keep our children completely safe in the world, we can just do our best.

Merry - posted on 01/03/2011

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I usually had a blanket around him as he slept, but loosely cuz when I picked him up I wanted him close to me! I just kept blanket handy so I had something to snuggle him into me with.
Planning on a lot more skin to skin with my daughter, but I did take every shower with Eric when he was born cuz I never got that skin on skin after birth and I missed it. There is something magical about holding your tiny naked baby on your chest, so soothing to both and for me it helped me bond with him afterthe separated time we spent after his birth.
No one else but me has held him like that and that makes me feel like 'mom' :)

Brenda - posted on 12/27/2010

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Never learned to swaddle, never had kids that would tolerate it... Both my kids screamed bloody murder until their hands were out. Didn't mind so much the legs, it was their hands they wanted out. Now I'm glad I didn't...

Katherine - posted on 12/27/2010

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Well normally AP isn't about swaddling anyways BUT, I just found out I was AP 2 years ago from this community lol. I did swaddle and my daughter hated it. I loved the skin on skin much better and I had heard it helps regulate a newborns heart rate. She slept with her Dad like that all the time.

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Thanks for the info Katherine, I didn't know any of this! I was never comfortable with the idea of swaddling my daughter though, despite the fact that some people almost tried to bully me into it when they heard she had sleeping problems. I never could put my finger on it, why I didn't want to try it (they did swaddle her in hospital once or twice, but I just unwrapped her, she didn't like it anyway), but now that I read your article I think I just somewhat felt too detached from her. Moms probably need the skin-to-skin contact to. Plus I was always nervous about not doing it right and maybe harming her in some way. Glad to have some proper info backing up those instincts!

Tameka - posted on 12/27/2010

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The only thing I knew about was in some cultures (can't remember off the top of my head...) babies are heavily swaddled to keep them warm. They are swaddled in thick blankets and a heavy canvas over the top. This is also done over a long period of time, up until the baby is two years or more. Hip displaysia (sp?) is often the result because of the lack of natural movement and blood flow. It is done by people living close to the arctic region, I think, to keep small children warm while their parents continue to work with them strapped to their back. Apparently they've got the highest rate of hip displaysia in the world but I just can't think of their name...

I didn't know the other info though. I stopped swaddling my youngest a few hours after she was born because she would scream in a distressing way until I unwrapped her and would start up again if I tried to wrap her up.

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