^

A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

Newborn swaddled in crib

Swaddling and Safe Infant Sleep

Swaddling can help calm a fussy baby. And after years of taking care of babies and raising 3 of my own, I’m pretty good at getting just the right snug wrap! But done the wrong way, swaddling can be harmful. Let’s take a look at why and how to do it right.

Hospital nurses or your doctor can show you how to wrap a blanket around your baby – there’s some tricks to getting it just right. It’s important to leave plenty of room for your baby’s legs to move and their hips and knees to flex. Why? Turns out swaddling those little legs too tightly can increase babies’ risk of hip problems or dysplasia.

Once you get the perfect baby burrito wrap technique, there are a few more things to do to help them sleep well and safely.

  • Only swaddle for the first 2 months. While swaddling can be great for a new baby – it mimics being snugly inside mom’s womb – it’s dangerous if used beyond 2 months.
  • Always place you baby on their back to sleep. Sleeping face up decreases the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Swaddling shouldn’t be used when there’s any chance your baby could roll over into the swaddling blanket – so be sure to stop swaddling by the time they’re 2 months old.
  • Make sure your baby doesn’t get too warm when swaddled. Are they sweaty or flushed? Swaddling can increase the chance they’ll overheat. In general, think about how warm or cold the bedroom is and judge what your baby needs based on how many layers you might need. They don’t need to be extra bundled up.

American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that babies:

  • Sleep in a bare boring crib or bassinet. Don’t put bumpers, toys, stuffed animals or loose blankets in the crib.
  • Not sleep with products like wedges and positioners – they’ve not been shown to decrease the risk of SIDS.
  • Not sleep in your bed. Infants are safer sleeping alone.
  • Be offered a pacifier.
  • Always be in a smoke-free environment.

And one last word of advice about baby sleep – get some rest when they do! Really. That old saying about sleeping when they do is a good one. You’ll be the best parent you can be if you do.

Find more resources for parents

American Academy of Pediatrics:
How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention:
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Disclaimer: If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.