THIS VIDEO IS ABOUT CO-SLEEPING AND SWADDLING WITH MIDWIFE DOREEN BUCKLEY
This valuable and effective settling technique has made a come back due to the preferred sleeping position for babies. Babies positioned on their back are considered at less risk of SIDS, however they will often stimulate the moro or startle reflex with their movements, and wake up. Swaddling or wrapping helps to overcome this concern, by recreating the safe in the womb feeling for baby.
The practice of swaddling goes back nearly as far as human history, itself. The oldest archaeological evidence of mothers swaddling their babies begins in 4000 B.C. The ability of swaddling to soothe and calm babies has been known to mothers around the world for countless generations. But while the evidence of its benefits have been clear to women for thousands of years and across every continent, today we can turn to science for proof that swaddling is one of the most gentle, effective, and beneficial practices for mothers and their children.
In 2002, the medical journal Paediatrics published a study that explained why babies who are swaddled sleep more peacefully by preventing spontaneous movements (called reflex motion) from waking them up continually during the night. The same year, the Journal of Applied Physiology wrote that swaddled infants stay in REM sleep (the most restorative, deepest sleep) longer than those who were not swaddled.
Swaddling is said to be as familiar to babies as it is to their mums because it recreates the secure and cosy feeling of the womb – and using swaddles made of natural cotton muslin swaddles only enhances that blissful feeling. Muslin is a finely-woven breathable fabric believed to have originated in Bangladesh during the Middle Ages. It’s delicate, yet durable weave, makes the fabric stretchy, and therefore ideal for swaddling, as the natural give allows the blanket to be tucked snugly around a baby without being overly restrictive.
The lightweight muslin also permits air to circulate around the baby’s body, while still providing comfort and warmth without the worry that the baby may overheat in moderate weather. Cotton muslin is also a workhorse fabric, in that wraps woven from its natural fibre stands up to repeated washings only becoming softer – and better – with age.
Of course, all the scientific evidence in the world is no substitute for the experience of millions of mothers through uncountable generations – that swaddling in muslin is one of the most loving, gentle, restorative acts a mother can perform for her child.
Swaddling : Fresh from a foetal position, infants are not used to wide-open spaces. Plus, they don’t know that their arms and legs belong to them. When they are overtired, you need to immobilise them, because seeing their legs and arms flail about both scares them as they think that someone is doing something to them – and the experience heaps more stimulation onto their already overload senses. Swaddling may seem dated, but even modern research confirms its benefits.
To swaddle properly : Fold the corner of the muslin blanket down into a triangle. Lay your baby on top, positioning the fold level with his neck. Place one of his arms across his chest at a 45-degree angle and bring one corner of the blanket snugly across his body. Do the same with the other side. I suggest swaddling for the first six weeks, but after the seventh week, when baby is first trying to get his hands to his mouth, help him out by bending his arms and leaving his hands exposed and close to his face and swaddle from under his arms.
Pack of three muslin swaddling blankets €49 www.cherishme.ie made using rayon from bamboo fiber. Aden and Anais wraps are the ultimate in breathability and softness. Muslin’s light, open weave allows a baby’s body temperature to regulate itself naturally, which helps to reduce the risk of overheating.
Important: If you choose to swaddle, be sure you know how to do it correctly. Improper swaddling by tightly wrapping your baby’s legs straight down may loosen the joints and damage the soft cartilage of the hip sockets, leading to hip dysplasia. Be careful not to cover your baby’s head and face. Do not use heavy blankets to swaddle as this may cause the baby to overheat.
The SIDS debate continues to arouse controversy:
The best sleeping arrangement for babies and children continues to be a subject for study and heated debate. Depending on the spin put on a particular piece of research, one study can appear to contradict another. A study by the Department of Child Health at the University of Glasgow, published in 2005, suggests that there is no risk in co-sleeping with a baby over 11 weeks old, they did find a risk if SIDS, not only from co-sleeping but also from a baby sleeping in a separate room but their conclusion that co-sleeping with very young babies is risky contradicts the research carried out among populations in other parts of the world.
So let’s go back to the science of SIDS :
As we have seen, SIDS is caused mostly by unstable breathing and an immature cardiovascular system. It is known from scientific studies that separation from the mother’s body means the baby moves into a primitive defence mode, which can result in wildly irregular breathing and heartbeat. After six hours, a baby separated from his mother has stress hormone levels twice as high as a baby whose mother is close by. In contrast, being in close bodily contact with the mother stabilises a baby’s heartbeat and breathing. That said, there will be many parents who remain anxious about sleeping in close contact with their babies. If you feel uncertain about the issue, you can swaddle your baby to sleep in a cot right beside your bed, where you can instantly reach out to him when he cries.
Sharing a bed with your baby:
Keeping your baby close to you helps you get to know your baby and to recognise when they are hungry and wanting to feed. In hospital, you are encouraged to have your baby with you by your bed at all times. When you go home it is recommended that your baby shares a room with you, particularly at night, for at least six months, as this helps to protect babies against cot death.
If you are breastfeeding, you may find it helps if your baby shares your bed at night. This can make breastfeeding easier because your baby can feed whenever they want without disturbing you too much. Your baby will usually lay on their side to breastfeed. After feeding the baby should be put on their back to sleep, never on their front or side. It also helps to calm your baby if they are unsettled, and many babies sleep better when they are close to their mother. However to ensure safety, there are a number of points to consider before you think about having your baby in bed with you:
You should NOT share a bed with a baby if you (or any other person in the bed):
- Are a smoker (no matter where or when you smoke)
- Have drunk alcohol
- Have taken any drug or medication which could make you extra sleepy
- Are otherwise unusually tired to a point where you would find it difficult to respond to your baby because this will increase the risk of cot death
There are also a number of things you need to be made aware of if you are co-sleeping:
- The mattress should be firm, flat and clean
- Make sure your baby does not get too warm. The best room temperature for a baby is 16-18’C
- It is best to use cotton sheets and cotton cellular blankets rather than duvets or quilts
- Do not swaddle if you are sharing a bed with your baby
Written by Doreen Buckley, registered General Nurse and Midwife and
Gold Medal winner. Lactation specialist with 30+ years’ experience, a
diploma in Neonatology and Diploma in Parent Mentoring. Doreen is also
a Parentcraft education teacher and a baby coach expert with a certificate
in sleep training, holistic infant massage and reflexology. Doreen also
presents ‘Baby on Board’ for RTE Ireland and provides private childbirth
and early parenting one-day courses for couples with their first baby. For
more information visit: www.doreenbuckley.ie
Article is supported by aden + anais, the leading swaddling and baby care brand. aden + anais founder, Raegan Moya-Jones is the author of Swaddle Love, a how-to book about swaddling, techniques and benefits. For more information visit: www.adenandanais.co.uk