Swaddling is in the news again! A recent study in Pediatrics suggests that children who are swaddled during sleep are at a higher risk of SIDS. This is alarmingly contrary to what we already know about SIDS, that swaddling is one of the best preventative tools we have. So why the discrepancy?
As a Certified Infant Care Specialist with an expertise in swaddling, let me clear a few things up.
First, this study is a review of other published studies. It did not include new research.
Second, the study fails to mention how the studied children were swaddled. Throughout the world, there are many different methods of swaddling a child. Here’s what the study says:
“Swaddling is defined as close wrapping of an infant, usually with a light cloth and the head exposed, although swaddling styles vary across cultures.”
So the study doesn’t differentiate between different types of swaddling. They aren’t all equal. Further, many parents are swaddling their children in improper, unsafe ways. It’s very easy to improperly swaddle a baby using traditional blankets.
For example, many parents overdress their children and then wrap them in a swaddle. It’s a myth that babies need to be especially warm. If you keep the room at an ideal 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit, you should only dress your baby in one-piece and the swaddle. Even the one-piece isn’t truly needed.
Some parents also share the same bed with their baby. This is extremely dangerous for a few reasons:
- You could roll on to your child and cause damage or death.
- Blankets or pillows could cover your child’s nose and mouth, causing suffocation.
- Your body heat could cause your child to overheat.
Finally, if you swaddle with blankets, those blankets could loosen and cover your baby’s face, suffocating him/her.
So just because the study claims swaddling increases the risk of SIDS, it doesn’t mean your swaddling increases the risk.
Here are the conclusions drawn by the study:
“Current advice to avoid front or side positions for sleep especially applies to infants who are swaddled. Consideration should be given to an age after which swaddling should be discouraged.”
The first part (about not letting babies sleep on their sides or tummy) is old news. We’ve known about this for years. It’s good to see more scientific research confirming it, though.
The second part is true as well, but we already know the answer to this. There’s no exact date (there never could be because every child is different), but we know that swaddling should immediately stop once baby starts rolling over. Inside the swaddle, your child may not be able to right their position and may suffocate.
And about the SIDS risk? Lead researcher Dr. Rachel Moon admitted to CBS News that she couldn’t explain the link. They could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, only a correlation, which means more information (i.e., how the children in the study were swaddled) is needed to draw any real conclusions.
I’m confident that if you removed the children from the study who were swaddled using clearly unsafe methods (too much material, not snug enough, too hot, in bed with mom and dad, etc.) we would see no statistical correlation between swaddling and SIDS.
Swaddling is most definitely safe as long as you do it properly.
You have to create the right conditions. Instead of messily wrapping blankets, it’s far safer to use a specially designed baby swaddle. We created the Woombie so parents don’t have to deal with the guesswork.
In a zip-up baby swaddle, there’s no unraveling, so no material will cover your child’s face. It offers just the right amount of resistance to make your baby feel safe without putting pressure on the hips and knees. The breathable fabric and built-in ventilation reduces the chance of your baby overheating. It also prevents face-scratching and startling, and has been proven to help babies get a better night’s sleep.
Most importantly, the Woombie keeps your baby on his/her back, which is the number one thing you can do to prevent SIDS.
Written by Karen Barski, BSN, RN, Mother of five, Certified Infant Care Specialist & Instructor, & Inventor of the Woombie Baby Swaddle
Karen has been an RN for 18 years, and has worked in many different nursing roles. As a Certified Infant Care Specialist, Karen counsels thousands of families yearly on a multitude of issues relating to pregnancy and infancy. Also, as a mother of five, she has invaluable experience and tips to share.
Since 2007, Karen’s company, KB Designs, has invented a line of signature baby swaddle products that have helped parents easily transition their new babies from womb to home. There are multiple designs and sizes so that babies can enjoy the comfort and security of the Woombie up until the time they begin to roll.
Each product has been created and designed by Karen because of a need she identified in her life with her five children. With convenience, safety, and fashion in mind, KB Designs has helped over a half million babies and counting!
For more information, visit www.woombie.com.
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