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Swaddling - good or bad?

(57 Posts)
fatfairy Sun 22-Apr-12 09:49:23

My daughter swaddles her baby, born 4th April 2012, when she puts her down to sleep. The baby looks as though she's trussed up: she can't move her arms and legs about (although she tries very hard at times). I'm told that she sleeps better; that having her limbs waving about involuntarily wakes her up, and she did give herself a tiny scratch on her face the other day when she was put to sleep without. (I've explained about nibbling off baby's fingernails as they get longer).

Swaddling seems to be the current fashion (DD has at least 2 branded swaddling wraps), whereas I thought that it was originally intended to allow the mother to carry on working in the fields or wherever, and that babies need to move about to build up muscle strength and awareness of their own body.

Advice gratefully received! and if the consensus is against swaddling, what can I reasonably do about it? (mild expressions of surprise and concerns having had no discernible effect so far).

Greatnan Sun 22-Apr-12 09:53:27

Over heating is thought to be one cause of cot death, I think.
I am not sure you can do anything about your daughter's way of looking after her baby. I think having a baby close to its mother by way of a sling or back pack is a good idea during the day, but I would not recommend it when the child is put down on its own.

tanith Sun 22-Apr-12 10:37:07

I had a square cotton sheet that I used to swaddle my newborns in, I did it with all three of mine and they were very good sleepers when very young waking regularly for a breast feed , but I only did it for a couple of months or so . We had no central heating in those days and as we lived in a tiny flat I was most often in the same room as the baby anyway. I don't see that there is a problem with it as long as Mum is also keeping an eye on how warm baby is.

Gally Sun 22-Apr-12 11:08:05

Tiny babies feel secure when tightly wrapped - my daughter in Oz swaddled hers in a large muslin so they weren't too overheated but secure at the same time. It certainly helped the sleep when they were first born.

Pennysue Sun 22-Apr-12 11:22:55

Funny how these things come back. When I had my children (over 40 years ago) the District Nurse/Midwife suggested swaddling - her reasoning was that the baby had been very confined in the last few weeks of pregnancy and to be suddenly unconfined with the feeling of "wide open space" and different light and sound was disconcerting for the baby.

Like others I swaddled in large muslin squares for just a few weeks and it did seem to work.

When my sister had a baby (at home) a few years later swaddling had gone out of fashion. Her baby was very miserable etc. and I got a "cry from the heart" please come I cannot cope! I suggested swaddling and lo and behold baby slept. Horror of horrors I also suggested putting her down on her front!

Mine also slept on their fronts! Could lift their heads and turn from side to side very quickly. Never felt comfortable about lying babies on their backs, seem to me they were more likely to choke.

glammanana Sun 22-Apr-12 11:30:25

All of my three where swaddled in light all cotton sheets and they where all good sleepers (maybe DS1 not as good as other two) they where also laid in their pram without a pillow until they where 9/10 mths old as my old nana said this kept their backs strong now I do see babies propped up on pillows in their prams from such an early age I'm sure it can't be good for future posture

jeni Sun 22-Apr-12 11:38:25

Neither of my 2 could bear to be wrapped and now dgd won't be also.

soop Sun 22-Apr-12 11:39:03

My three were swaddled - they appeared to be cocooned - all tidy and cosy smile

harrigran Sun 22-Apr-12 11:41:23

My babies were swaddled too and I believe newborns do feel more secure. Just adjust the blankets in the crib so baby does not overheat.
I was only allowed to do this to GD once, she was very fretful and I swaddled her and put her down, she slept for the four hours between feeds whereas she was only dozing in half hour bites.

grannyactivist Sun 22-Apr-12 11:43:26

Yes, I was a swaddler too, but only for the first few weeks. I just thought it would help my babies to adjust to being outside the womb if they had a gradual introduction to 'empty' space after having been confined.

tanith Sun 22-Apr-12 11:45:38

Oh my I had forgotten about 'front' sleeping, my son would not sleep on his back once I stopped swaddling him he slept on his stomach till he was old enough to turn himself.. no pillows till they were in their own beds.

wisewoman Sun 22-Apr-12 11:54:48

Yes, mine were swaddled 40 years ago. That was the prevailing wisdom at the time and I think it did make them feel secure. Fashions come and go and we all do the best we can with the advice we get at the time. I think it is even worse for mums today as there seems to be so much conflicting advice!

fatfairy Sun 22-Apr-12 13:37:54

Hmm, there appears to be a clear consensus in favour of swaddling in the early days/weeks, subject to the temperature being right.

Many thanks to all who have contributed.

FlicketyB Sun 22-Apr-12 13:55:01

I think it depends on the baby. My first was born feeling unloved and unwanted, dont ask why, he was neither and hated being unwrapped, he was happiest when wrapped up in a shawl and being held. No 2 was the exact opposite hated being wrapped up just wanted to wave her arms and legs about, wasnt overkeen on cuddles either, just liked to be left untrammelled on a clear surface with space to move, this from birth. i would always say that your caring/wrapping methods should be baby-led. If they dont like it dont do it, if they do,do.

HildaW Sun 22-Apr-12 15:03:24

Wise words Flickety, my daughter's two babies have been quite dissimilar...the little girl (now 6 months old) loved to be swaddled in her first few weeks but as the other person said, a large muslin was used to actually swaddle. Her first child, a boy was very much the opposite and loved to let it all hang out. She only felt the need to swaddle because the little girl seemed a bit restless in her first few days so was trying the best way to get her to sleep and the swaddling really worked. We did joke that the little girl had been very late arriving and was certainly looking a bit squashed (she was hoooge) so we think she had got to like the feeling.

Mishap Sun 22-Apr-12 15:04:45

I never went down the swaddling route - but I always laid them down on their fronts, as was the advice at that time. Only on one occasion did I put baby down on her side and she rolled over onto her back and inhaled her own vomit - she was quite poorly for a while and it was a blessing that I had only gone for a pee rather than a bath or she would not have survived. For this reason, I have always felt a bit uncomfortable when GC were lain on their backs - and my Ds have had the same worry as they were present when I found the blue choking baby and it made a huge impression on them.

Greatnan Sun 22-Apr-12 15:20:05

FlicketyB - I was very interested to read that your son was born feeling unloved and unwanted. This was exactly what happened with my second daughter. She demanded almost constant attention, grizzling and whining and almost her first sentence was 'You don't love me' . She is still saying it, 46 years later, although I have done everything in my power to help her.
I never lost my patience with her and was very defensive when my mother and sister wanted to make her leave me alone as they could see how exhausted I was. Her sister, who is 18 months older, was a 'chuckler' and is still a sheer delight to me. She never objected when I devoted myself to her little sister - she seemed to understand that she needed my attention more than she did. I wonder if swaddling would have helped?
She came into our bed some time during the night until she was about eight.
I have made myself very unhappy trying to think where I went wrong - both my babies were planned and wanted and I was thrilled to have two little girls.
I was somewhat depressed after she was born, as we had moved from Lancs to Egham when I was pregnant and I missed my mother and sister very much and found it difficult to make friends in Surrey. My husband was often away with his work and when he was home refused to help in any way with the children - that was my job.
Now, I think perhaps she was just born with the wrong brain chemistry and nothing I could have done would have made any difference.

granbunny Sun 22-Apr-12 15:44:05

get your daughter a kari me sling, fatfairy. it wraps and keeps the baby close to mum. very handy. grandaughter is still happy in hers at five months.

greatnan, i saw a television programme about a hormone which regulates anxiety. those who have little of it can take part in extreme sports. those who have a lot find a trip to the supermarket terrifying. chemistry, physiology, probably accounts for a lot.

HildaW Sun 22-Apr-12 15:51:43

Greatnan, does not sound to me as if you did anything wrong. Am sure that like most of us you did as best you could and who is to say if things could have been different. The trouble is that if anyone goes through life looking at the world as if they are being short changed then they will probably feel unhappy. I think the psychologists explain that we tend to transfer what we feel about ourselves onto others. Thus if we go around thinking the world does not like us then we radiate a sort of 'you dont like me so I am not going to like you' vibe. Sorry I'm being very inarticulate, I used to be able to explain myself better. Of course our own make-up plays a part as do the environment we grew up in. You can never say its one or t'other they just sort of influence each other. One child will swim through life with a sunny smile on their face and the world will smile back. Whilst a child you feels (for whatever reason) that they were shortchanged, will have much less fun.

bagitha Sun 22-Apr-12 15:57:37

Re lying babies on their fronts or backs, what Elaine Morgan says in her book The Descent of the Child (pp96-98) is very interesting. A campaign in the Netherlands in 1987 in which mothers were advised to put their babies to sleep on their backs or on their sides resulted in a 40% decrease in cot deaths throughout the country over the following twelve months. It's apparently to do with the 'descending larynx' which, as I understand it, is unique to human infants among land mammals.

nanapug Sun 22-Apr-12 17:07:09

I think as grandparents it is up to us to stand back and watch what the mums have been advised to do, and then look at the research and learn about it and ask questions. There are some fantastic forums explaining so much. We should only interfere if we are sure something is wrong. We must accept change (or progress as I see it) as our parents had to with us. I hated it when my mother and mother in law used to say the dreaded words "In my day we....." If things didn't change we would all be still going down to the well to collect the water and carrying our babies on our backs - oh yes, that is called "baby wearing" nowadays and is in fashion again!! The next thing you will need to look up is something called baby led weaning. No more purees, just straight on to normal food at six months!! Good luck!!

moomin Sun 22-Apr-12 17:38:32

I swaddled all 3 of my babies back in the '70s/early '80s as it was "the thinking" at the time and they all slept pretty well. But, as others have said, this was only for the first few weeks. I was also encouraged to put them to sleep on their sides, although my step-mum suggested on their tums was best. Did try it but none of my newborns liked sleeping that way.

I guess all babies are different in their preferences and ideas change and then come around again. I think it is down to each individual mum and baby and as grandmums we should stand back and only give advice when it's asked for - difficult as that is wink

granjura Sun 22-Apr-12 17:44:29

Agreed moomin, and not always easy to do. I remember being bombarded by advice, every single bit contrary to the other, from all sides- and it was maddening.

I had to swaddle our first (early 70s) as she was a very long breech baby, and would just fold over, legs up against the face, whenever she was 'loose' - it was quite funny. But again, only for the first couple of weeks.
Both of mine hated being on their tummy- so always put them down on their side. Our granddaughter is now nearly 3 and she still sleeps on her knees with bum in the air! Very funny - but she seems very comfortable.

specki4eyes Sun 22-Apr-12 21:53:48

Just read all these posts and experienced the most delightful period of deja vu! The loving feelings and physical pleasure of holding a freshly bathed and powdered baby, firmly wrapped up in a white aerocell blanket, came flooding back to me after 40 years.

My DILs perceived swaddling as verging on the barbaric smileso I never got to repeat the experience with my GCs. They also torched my suggestion that their babies should be put outside in the pram for their daytime naps, on the grounds that the babies may feel abandoned. So I quietly crawled back into my shell and just smiled in a granny kind of way.

nightowl Sun 22-Apr-12 22:00:04

specki4eyes my daughter also cannot believe that I used to put her and her brothers outside in the pram for a daytime nap - she thinks it was child abuse!! grin