Contrary to what certain claims may suggest, swaddling isn’t new. Rather, in Europe and North America, the practice has been rediscovered as a way of soothing crying infants or promoting better sleep. Wrapping infants snugly in cloth has been done worldwide for centuries. Recall the swaddling clothes used at Christ’s birth? Consider also the variety of approaches to swaddling used around the world: from the papoose-style cradle-boards in rural China (35 days) and Navajo (for 5-6 months), to the use of cloth wraps in Holland (12 weeks), Mongolia (5-6 months) or rural Turkey (up to a year). In warmer climates such as Africa, babies often require less clothing, and may be placed in a sling instead.
In the US, interest in swaddling intensified, with the 2002 book by Dr. Harvey Karp, The Happiest Baby on the Block. What has followed has been a fascinating resurgence in the practice of swaddling, with a raft of new studies to assess swaddling’s effectiveness and safety. And here’s the thing: there is overwhelming evidence that swaddling works, and when done right, it can be downright beneficial. Tuck in, and we’ll explain.
*ALWAYS swaddle properly and supine (on their backs and not too tight around the hips)