Deirdre Budd’s Blog

Archive for November 2009

Gerard CM, Harris KA, Thach BT are quoted in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2002 following two studies on swaddling. One was entitled ” Spontaneous Arousal in Supine Infants while Swaddled and Unswaddled During REM and Quiet Sleep” This study examined 26 infants swaddled and put to sleep on their backs. Over all this study demonstrated that swaddled babies slept for longer periods and had shorter arousals during REM sleep. They woke less during deep sleep than unswaddled babies. This study concluded that swaddled babies sleep longer and their parents also sleep longer as baby is safe, warm and sleeping better.

The second study “Physiological Studies on Swaddling” involved 37 infants introduced to swaddling at an older age and examined their acceptance of sleeping on their backs. This study demonstrated that the majority of infants, including 78% who normally slept on their tummies (prone), accepted sleeping this supine position. The authors concluded that it is never too late to swaddle, and even older babies can be helped to sleep on their backs and stay asleep longer when swaddled.

Then in 2005 a research project titled “The influence of Swaddling on Sleep and Arousal Characteristics of Healthy Infants “by Franco Patricia MD, PhD et al. Which was reported in Pediatrics Vol 115: 1317-131, examined the arousal threshold for auditory stress in swaddled sleeping infants. This study demonstrated that swaddling promoted sleep continuity, and decreased spontaneous arousal. This was also associated with increased responses to environmental auditory stress. Concluding that swaddling makes babies sleep longer but also makes them more alert to dangerous situations.

Despite  a popular misconception that swaddling is detrimental to a childs motor development, there appears to be no evidence to substantiate this. As long as babies are swaddled for naps and night sleep, but are allowed freedom of limb movement during wake periods, there is no reason to believe that swaddling is anything other than positive. Swaddling a child in a cotton or other breathable material, provides deep pressure, a feeling of being held without physical contact, security, comfort and safe warmth as there are no loose blankets which could cover baby’s head and face. Some babies will wriggle free of swaddling and as baby grows and develops this is a natural progression.

Overall there are far more benefits to swaddling a child, than to leaving a child who has not yet developed good limb co-ordination skills, with limbs free and likely to strike themselves when startled.

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