A pregnancy is categorized into three stages - the first, second, and third trimesters. Recently, pediatricians have coined the first three months of a baby’s life as the “fourth trimester,” to help others understand how difficult it can be for a newborn and their mom in this period and how family members can help babies and moms through this fourth trimester delicately. 

Pediatric experts in the United States believe that after birth, a baby's brain development, and physical and mental state are still adapting to their new surroundings and environment. The “fourth stage”, or the first 3 months of the baby’s life is an important period for babies, as they are slowly transitioning out of what they’re used to in the womb to a loud and chaotic world. 

We suggest parents create a womb like environment for their baby, especially when they sleep, to help feel comforted. White noise is a useful one, as it mimics the noise of being in a womb. Furthermore, swaddling them before sleeping can help babies feel safe and contained, just like they were in mommy’s belly.

Benefits of a Baby Swaddle

It is quite common for newborn babies to experience trouble sleeping or staying asleep. Babies go through an active sleep stage every sleep cycle and their jerky movements can jolt them awake.

Experts believe that babies are used to feeling snug inside the mother’s womb, where all movements are caught by the soft uterine wall. After birth, babies have not adapted to the ability to move freely, and may often be startled by his/her own movements. A swaddle can help your baby feel safe, snug and secure as he/she adjusts to life outside of the womb.

Swaddling has been around for many years since ancient times, but has recently experienced a resurgence and appreciation from mothers. A baby swaddle can simulate the environment of the womb, and provides a strong sense of security for your baby.

The University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands reviewed 78 relevant medical studies. Among them, some results concluded that swaddling can help babies sleep longer and reduce the number of awakenings. However, baby swaddles must be used appropriately and in a safe manner to avoid accidents caused by incorrect use.

Read on as we share 4 key tips on swaddling your baby.

4 Key Tips for Swaddling Your Baby

Before using a baby swaddle to wrap your infant, make sure to keep these 4 tips in mind.

Always Maintain The Right Temperature

The most suitable temperature for newborn babies is 20 to 22 degrees. If the weather is colder than 20 degrees, using a swaddle can keep the baby warm. Make sure to also pay attention if the weather is relatively warm or hot. If the baby's head is wrapped and the clothes are too thick, symptoms of high fever may occur.

Always Place Your Baby On The Back

Using a swaddle makes it easier for your baby to sleep on his back, which can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Wrapping the baby's body can also reduce the chance of his head and face being blocked by the mattress. 

Please note that your baby exhibits any signs of attempting to roll (usually common at 3 to 4 months), swaddling is no longer appropriate. Otherwise swaddling can increase the risk of suffocation. 

Leave Enough Room to Stretch

The baby's stretching movements when he wakes up mainly occur with his hands, so the buttocks do not need to be wrapped too tightly. If the baby swaddle is wrapped too tightly, it may affect the health of the hip joints. Leave enough space for your baby to move his/her legs flexibly! This is beneficial to the development of the baby's nervous system and improves mobility.

Pay Close Attention to Tightness

Use light and breathable materials when wrapping your baby, and pay special attention to the tightness. If the swaddle wrap is too tight, it may restrict breathing and cause respiratory infection. On the other hand, if it is too loose, there is a risk that the swaddle goes over your baby’s face and causes suffocation.

It is important to establish healthy sleep habits for babies as early as possible in their early days and lay a good foundation for them. Swaddling can be quite challenging initially, but it can encourage your little one to sleep better! Of course, it is more important for parents to observe what works for their babies and find the most effective soothing method for them.

Happy parenting!

Written by Hush Home’s Pediatric Sleep Experts

Stephanie Huen: Certified Health Consultant, Pediatric Sleep Expert
Dr. Charlotte Tang: Registered Clinical Psychologist

The above suggestions are for educational references only and should not be regarded as medical advice. Infants and young children grow at different paces. If you have any health concerns or questions, please consult your family doctor or pediatrician directly.