While wrapping helps your baby to feel secure; it also helps to restrain his startle reflex which, although a normal part of your baby’s development, often wakes him. Thrashing or twitching arms and legs can frustrate a baby trying to sleep. Young babies have limited control of their limbs. They are not even aware that they belong to them, so by wrapping your baby you assist them to sleep more comfortably. During the last stages of pregnancy a baby is tight and snug within the womb, his movements are restricted, his hands are up around his face. When we wrap a baby, we need to keep this in mind. Being wrapped helps them to feel this snug security but we must also remember that they like their hands up. I have often been told that a baby will thrash about trying to release their hands because they have been swaddled with their arms down or across their chest. The wrap I have demonstrated see (Wrap Instructions) is one that will allow your baby to have his hands up but still within the wrap to prevent him from scratching his face. It will also give your baby the freedom to move his arms up or down. Strapping a babies arms down may also restrict or hamper the growth of little bones.
In my experience, many babies continue to benefit from being wrapped up to ten months of age, others even longer. When a wrap has been used from an early age, baby begins to associate wrapping with sleeping and will quickly settle when put to bed. Often by the time they are sitting up unassisted or crawling, they will wriggle out of a wrap. This is usually the time to stop wrapping. Before this occurs it is wise to introduce other sleep-time routines, such as a story, lullaby or music.
Warning: Having recently worked in the Special Care Nursery at Royal North Shore Hospital I was interested to hear that the Physio Therapist had commented on the popular baby wraps/swaddles. In particular those that restrained baby's arms not only down but up with arms parallel to their shoulders. She was saying that several babies had returned for checkups and where developing problems from being slept in these wraps. She suggested mothers return to the traditional baby wraps where the baby is wrapped with their arms up but brought in toward their body. I was pleasantly delighted as this is the method I have been teaching mothers for years. My suggestion is, if you have used these swaddles then wrap your baby the traditional way during the day and then only swaddle them at night in the zip up swaddles.
Tips: A baby who is only wraped for sleep will associate wrap with sleep time and be quicker to settle when put to bed. Once wrapped he will be able to sleep anywhere.
Remember: Strapping your babies arms against his body is not a natural way to sleep it may also cause problems when it comes time to cease wrapping you baby.
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