One of the things you learn as a new mom is that any amount of sleep is golden. You learn to have a newfound respect for 20 minute power naps because sometimes those take the place of sleep altogether in the first few weeks or months or giving birth.
The practice of swaddling—wrapping the infant with a light blanket with their head exposed became more widespread after the 1994 “Back to Sleep” Campaign as parents became more conscious about SIDS.
Swaddling your newborn is beneficial in two ways as a new mom. It helps the baby stay warm, cozy and calm and because of that it also helps new moms get a few more minutes of sleep.
But a recent analysis that pooled information from four observational studies on SIDS and swaddling is saying swaddling may increase the risk for sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Their conclusion was that the risk was greatest for babies sleeping on their stomachs and that overall swaddling increased the risk for SIDS by about one-third.
The lead author on the study Anna S. Pease, a research associate at the University of Bristol in England, said, “We already know that side and prone sleeping are unsafe for young babies, so the advice to place children on their backs for sleep is even more important when parents choose to swaddle them.” She went on to suggest that age is a factor too. “We suggest that parents think about what age they should stop swaddling…babies start to roll over between four and six months, and that point may be the best time to stop.”
Regardless of how you decide to place your baby once they’re swaddled you should monitor them frequently. And if you are looking for cozy alternatives to swaddling Dr. Sears, says “Try building sleep associations in your daughter’s mind: Implement a bedtime ritual that includes rocking, a familiar song, or a warm bath, for example and she’ll learn to associate these experiences with sleep. Whenever you begin this routine, she’ll know sleep is expected to follow. To avoid falling into the “she’ll only go to sleep if I nurse her” trap, be sure to create a variety of sleep associations. It’s also important that both mom and dad put baby to sleep, so she gets used to each parent’s approach to the bedtime routine.”
And he also continues to talk about a trend in his family called “wear baby down” and says, “The Sears family has a favorite sleep-inducer we call “wearing down.” After your baby is fed and ready for bed, place her in a sling carrier and wear her around the house. Once she’s fully asleep, ease her out of the sling into her crib. This strategy is particularly helpful for a reluctant napper or bedtime-fighter. I still have fond memories of walking with our babies around the house, or the neighborhood, while my wife, Martha, took a rest. It’s just as important for fathers to use this technique as it is for moms.”