When you call your baby a ‘bundle of joy,’ it literally becomes one with swaddling! Your baby looks so cute all draped, curled, and wrapped in a soft cloth with its head being exposed. Swaddling helps your baby feel cozy, warm, and comfortable. But how good is it really to swaddle your baby? Does it need any other scientific backing when it comes to swaddling?
A recent study that appeared in the journal Pediatrics, it has been suggested that there might be a possible association between sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and swaddling. Surprised? You might have to read on to find out why the researchers are advising parents to bear caution when swaddling their babies.
While swaddling is known to keep babies under two months out of whining and promotes undisturbed sleep, the recent studies have indicated that one should swaddle infants only while placing them on their backs. Swaddling a baby or r positioning them on their front or side can put them at a higher risk of SIDS.
Several databases online were reviewed for existing literature on swaddling, of which somedate back to 1950s. Following an examination of almost 400 earlier studies on the subject, they discovered that only four probed the link between SIDS and swaddling. By considering these four studies, the researchers have gathered information about 760 SIDS cases apart from 1,759 other swaddled babies who did not succumb to any serious outcome. What the researchers also believed is that since the four papers produced come from different geographical regions from U.K. to Tasmania and also the fact that the swaddling practices might vary to a great extent between the cultures, any conclusions arrived at thus far might not be accurate.
Despite the unsupported conclusions, the study is quite significant while referring to all the data that is available and certain specific patterns that are prominent. For example, it turns out that infants that are placed on the side or the front doubled the risk of SIDS when swaddled. The risk of SIDS also seems to shoot up with the age of the infant which is an indicator that swaddling is safe just so long as the baby hasn’t started to toss or roll. Therefore, swaddling must be limited only to the first few weeks that is in the first six months. Beyond this age, the baby would have started rolling over on its own, so even if placed on its back initially, the baby might end up in the lateral or frontal position thereby increasing the chance of SIDS – even when swaddling isn’t involved.
So if you have heard about babies who died when swaddled it is not surprising because most of them must have been placed on their backs, but must have managed to roll over later.
In the Netherlands, the official guidelines urge parents to swaddle their young ones merely to keep them from crying too much but also suggest that they give up swaddling once the baby has come to the point where it can roll over on its own.
Although the researchers involved in the study concede that the finding might need more investigation to establish a more concrete association between SIDS and swaddling, they do underscore the fact that parents must avoid their babies to sleep on the front or the side positions while their young ones are swaddled. The researchers have also given importance to figure out the right time when swaddling must be called off.