Parent Time

Swaddling a Fussy Baby: How to Calm Crying

Calming a fussy baby is one of parenting’s most important tasks: let’s face it; if Baby isn’t happy, no one’s happy! Information about soothing colicky or cranky infants sometimes omits a simple and effective solution: swaddling!

How to Calm a Baby With Colic

Whether your baby has been diagnosed with colic or not, swaddling an infant who cries more than usual can often be calming for parents and baby. Some babies spend more time crying than others; theories about the reasons why include developmental issues, startling responses to their own movements, or simply the insecure feeling of being outside the womb—Baby’s first swaddle. Researchers have found that swaddled babies tend to be less likely than others to cry.
 

Pros and Cons of Swaddling

If you’re nervous about swaddling your baby, bear in mind that the pros and cons you may see listed elsewhere may not give you the full story. Swaddling, properly done, does not affect the development of the baby, or harm babies’ legs. Correct swaddling techniques leave the legs free to move, so babies can kick and flex their feet. Swaddling doesn’t have to cause overheating either; in warm weather, swaddled babies should be dressed only in a diaper, and the swaddling cloth can be made of ultra-thin cotton or gauze. Because experts recommend only swaddling during the first month, your baby won’t be stunted by the process: as in so many things, knowing when to stop is nearly as important as starting!

The main goal is to make your baby feel safe and secure, so you’ll only use swaddling when your infant is fussing or crying and can’t sleep—and of course, when you’ve checked out the other possibilities. Could she be hungry or thirsty? Is the diaper properly fitted, with pins or sticky tags where they should be? If you’ve ruled out other options and the baby still fusses, try swaddling.
 

Special Blankets and Wraps

Swaddlers, (specialized baby garments)are designed so babies’ arms can be held snugly to the body. You can make a swaddler from a baby blanket or any piece of cloth large enough to wrap the baby side to side and fold up from the feet to the chest. Square pieces of cloth are easier to deal with than rectangles, but in a pinch, you can use a tablecloth, a raincoat—anything that you can wrap.

How To Swaddle

The how-to of swaddling is simple—if you’ve ever made a burrito! If you haven’t worked at Taco Express, here’s how to swaddle.

  1. Position the cloth square in a diamond shape, point up.
  2. Fold the top point down, and center the baby on the cloth.
  3. Baby’s arms can be bent (which lets Baby suck on her hands-another self-soothing strategy), or straight (but not utterly straight—keep them natural!)
  4. Fold the left side of the cloth over Baby’s left arm and across the body, making the fold snug but not too tight.
  5. Fold the right side of the cloth over Baby’s right arm.
  6. Finish the swaddle by folding the bottom of the cloth up over Baby’s feet and legs.

Baby and Infant Garments for Swaddling

A swaddle or sleep sac makes an ideal baby gift; new parents may not realize they need a swaddle until they’re faced with a squalling baby at 2 AM. Sleep sacks can come with swaddle options—little airplane-like wings that fold across the baby’s chest, with legs encased in a tiny little sleeping bag. Although you can make a swaddle out of nearly anything, when you see the super-soft muslin and charming patterns on swaddles made by companies like Solona and Swaddle Designs, you’ll probably want the real deal. Translucent fabrics, satiny edgings and designs like strawberry shortcake and duckies (who can resist duckies?) make this writer wish they made swaddles in grown-up sizes.

Continue reading more baby tips about Fussy or Colicky Babies

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