What is Swaddling?
Simply put, swaddling is wrapping your baby in a piece of fabric. There are two main forms of swaddling. First, any time you wrap your baby up nice and snug is technically swaddling. Most mothers are familiar with this. Babies are swaddled when you first hold them in the hospital, for example. Imagine a much cuter version of a mummy being wrapped in bandages, and you've got the idea.
Babywearing with a baby wrap is also a form of swaddling. When you wrap your baby around yourself using baby wraps, it has many of the same effects of swaddling in a swaddle. Babywearing is an alternative method of transporting your baby. The comfort the baby feels when swaddled is thought to resemble the safety of the womb. It's a soothing technique that promotes the comfort, security, and health of your baby.
The History of Swaddling
Swaddling goes back as far as Biblical times. When Moses was sent down the river in a basket, he was swaddled. When Jesus was born, his mother Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes. Now, you might not believe in the Bible, but it's significant that the world's oldest book mentions swaddling, right?
Scientifically speaking, archaeological records suggest swaddling dates back to 400 BC when many people were migrating and swaddling was the most convenient way of carrying a baby around. They didn't have fancy strollers back then!
Throughout history, swaddling has had both positive and negative press. During Tudor times, for example, it was thought that swaddling helped to prevent deformities arising in the baby's development. Conversely, later in the 17th century, it became associated with neglect. Swaddling during this time was often perceived as an excuse to leave the baby alone for hours on end.
In the late 18th century things bounced around again. Swaddling was seen as a practical choice in cold countries, but thought to increase infection or disease in warmer ones. There were some highly controversial parenting methods going on, due to the fact that people didn't have the same scientific knowledge we possess today. For example, swaddling lost popularity in England and France in favor of...wait for it...alcohol and opiates! Can you believe it? If someone did that now they'd be jailed for abuse. Back then both drugs were seen as appropriate sedatives for infants. Thank God for progress and scientific discovery, eh?
Jump to the twentieth century: swaddling became popular again during the eighties and nineties. During this time there were a lot of cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and studies showed that swaddling helped prevent it. Anxious parents rushed to get on board in a bid to protect their child. SIDS is a frightening prospect for parents because experts still don't know what causes it. It is classified as the third leading cause of infant mortality in America, so it's no surprise that swaddling is back with a vengeance.
There are many reasons to choose swaddling. Swaddling makes work easier for you. When you're going somewhere and you put your baby in the stroller, both of your hands are occupied. Mothers are incredibly busy people, and little things that save time can make all the difference. Choosing to swaddle through babywearing saves you those precious few moments when you're getting ready. We all know how awkward it can be rushing around dismantling the stroller or push-pram, right? Sometimes those things have the most stubborn mechanical parts! It's much easier to just wrap-and-go
It isn't just us ordinary folk who choose between swaddles and strollers. Celebrity mothers also have to make the decision about how to make their days more efficient. There are some intelligent celebrity women out there!
Celebrities who have been seen using swaddles include Heidi Klum, Sandra Bullock, and Julia Roberts.
Mother of four and Australian native Raegan Moya-Jones is the smart lady responsible for introducing swaddles to the celebrity world. She noticed that muslin cotton, a common swaddling fabric in her home country, wasn't readily available in America. As a result, she worked to produce muslin cotton swaddles, and the idea took off. Her company aden + anais now boasts annual revenues of sixty-five million. What a fantastic example Jones is to women around the globe, considering the fact that only 2% of every woman-owned business ever breaks one million in revenue. Her boss at her previous job told her she didn't have an entrepreneurial bone in her body. She sure proved her detractor wrong! Glass ceiling, ladies?
We also use muslin cotton in our swaddles. There is a hefty price tag that comes with an aden + anais swaddle. Ours is the same quality at only a fraction of the price.
The Benefits of Swaddling
I've already mentioned how swaddling is a great time-saver, but there are lots of benefits to swaddling. Reasons for swaddling differ across nations and cultures. In Russia, it is thought to prevent self-injury. Polish parents who swaddle believe it to help physically strengthen the infant. The warmth and comfort a swaddle provides is another compelling reason to do it.
Cultural perspectives are valuable, but there are also medical benefits to swaddling.
Babies have what is known as a 'moro' or 'startle' reflex. It's nature's way of protecting the baby from harm. This occurs in two phases:
- The baby experiences a sensation of free-falling.
- The baby curls their arms and legs closer to their body in a move that resembles the well-known fetal position.
The moro reflex is a perfectly normal behavior. There is nothing to be concerned about when your baby does it. It's actually abnormal if they don't. However, when the moro reflex is triggered, the baby becomes upset. Triggers include a loud noise, a drastic change in lighting, or a sudden touch. Think about what startles you — it's similar for your baby.
Anyway, swaddling your baby provides the correct stimulus to help them recover from their fright. It does exactly what their reflex guides their brain to do: moves their arms and legs closer to their body in a defensive position. Moreover, swaddling actually works in a cycle: not only does it provide the comforting position the reflex requires, the womb-like environment actually prevents the baby from becoming startled so easily. The consequential benefits of this are numerous: a generally calmer baby, a baby who sleeps more soundly, and a baby who gets roughly 50% more REM sleep.
As well as soothing the baby's startle reflex, swaddling can help develop an infant's tactile system. This promotes their emotional security in later life as they become comfortable being touched at an early age. Emotional security is key to healthy development, so swaddling ensures your baby has the optimal conditions for growing up healthily.
A swaddled baby experiences less anxiety, which transfers to you the parent. It decreases the amount of times a baby wakes up unnecessarily due to the startle reflex, allowing you to establish a better sleep routine for both you and your child.
Swaddling will also save you money in two specific ways: first, baby wraps and swaddles are much cheaper than strollers. Our swaddling products don't break the bank! New strollers cost hundreds. Think of the money you'll save. As well as this, swaddling eliminates the need for comfort items in the baby's crib. Now, all parents want to spoil their child (understandably), but if you're on a budget you have less soft toys to worry about.
Babies are prone to infection and disease as their systems are not completely developed. Swaddling even helps with this aspect of parenting. It is known to soothe babies with colic, for example.
With all of these benefits, it's no surprise that swaddling is an age-old practice that spans generations and cultures.
How to Swaddle
In order to ensure your baby is safe and secure, take a look at our safety commandments for swaddling.
We also have an easy How-To video that can get you swaddling in no time!
Cuddlebug boasts a wide variety of products to help you ease into the process of swaddling. We offer a selection of wraps, swaddles, and nursing covers. We're also currently working on the development of new lines. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter so you can be first in line when our new products are released. Watch this space!
For now though, have a browse through our collection.
Why not just use a piece of torn-off bed-sheet? Well, for one, you'll look really silly going out in public comfortably holding a bed-sheet. I don't know about you, but I want to look good while swaddling. That's just aesthetics of course. The more important reason is that we're experts in this area and we know how to make the very best swaddle for your baby.
Our premium baby wraps, for example, are made of a cotton spandex blend that is both soft and stretchy. The soft texture makes it super comfortable for both you and the baby. The stretch factor allows the fabric to adapt to the size of your body and baby. Bed-sheets don't work well for big-chested women or pudgy babies!
All of our products are made using materials that have moisture resistant characteristics, which means that you'll both stay dry even if you have to make an urgent trip out in the rain. Each product has a lifetime guarantee because of the quality and durability of our materials. It won't be coming loose at the seams in a couple of weeks, so you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your baby is safely and securely wrapped.
What are you waiting for?