Considering your newborn has spent the past nine months in a warm and secluded place only to be thrust into the cold world of reality, it’s no wonder he or she misses home. It will take time for your baby to adjust to life outside the womb, and many everyday occurrences and sounds will seem scary to your bundle of joy. From the car to the vacuum to the family dog, every new event is frightening. To help your baby adjust to his new home outside your belly, you can make the transition less stressful by swaddling him in a blanket.

Swaddling is extremely common and people have been doing it in the United States for decades. It is the simple process of wrapping your baby tightly in a blanket so that he or she feels warm and protected. The constriction of the blanket might seem unappealing to adults, but it mimics the feeling of the womb so that baby feels a sense of familiarity in an entirely new environment. Since your baby should feel slightly constricted, it’s important that you swaddle him or her correctly. Until recently, babies would normally be wrapped in a blanket tightly with their legs straight down. However, studies show that this position leads to developmental hip dysplasia. Swaddling with the legs straight down causes increased tension on the ligaments of the hips, which are trying to set themselves up for development. Developmental hip dysplasia could have a negative effect on your baby for the rest of his or her life, so it’s important that you swaddle correctly.

At your baby’s legs, allow room for movement. Wrap the blanket tightly around the arms and looser at the legs. As a test, make sure your baby can bend his or her legs up so that they are perpendicular, and then make sure the knees can fully flex. Breech birth and family history are also common factors that cause hip dysplasia, but by swaddling correctly, you can eliminate one common cause.

Swaddling your baby will help calm him or her down in any situation. It will prevent overstimulation and make them feel safe and sound. You should stop swaddling your baby when he or she reaches one month of age, but only in the awake state. Swaddling during naptime is fine if it seems to help, but at one month it could interfere with mobility.

Source: Charles Price et al: Improper Swaddling A Risk Factor For Developmental Dysplasia Of Hip. The Official Magazine of the American Academy of Pediatrics Volume 32 Issue 9 September 2011

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