Swaddling blankets are must haves for newborns. Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Blockexplains that our world is too big for newborns. Swaddling mimics the snug environment of the womb and calms a baby. Another great explanation I once heard from a nanny was that swaddling helps a baby feel like their are being hugged even when they aren't.
Swaddling also keeps their arms from flailing around and accidentally whacking and waking them or scratching their faces. Contrary to popular myth, new babies don’t need freedom, they need holding and security.
But, it’s imperative to swaddle correctly. Poor swaddling can cause dangerous overheating, blankets over the face and stress on the hips. On the other hand, correct swaddling can save lives. In this regard, wrapping is very similar to infant car seats. Car seats can kill babies if used incorrectly, but used correctly they are a blessing and save lives.
It is well know that back sleeping lowers a baby’s risk of SIDS. But, a large Australian study found back sleeping plus swaddling dropped SIDS risk an extra 30 percent. Wrapped babies are have a harder time flipping into the dangerous tummy down position.
Swaddling soothes fussing so well it reduces the chance of exhausted parents accidentally falling asleep with their babies on a bed or sofa (potentially hazardous locations for little babies). Finally, swaddling reduces the chance of a parent being tempted to put her flailing baby to sleep tummy down.