Up to what age is it recommended to swaddle the baby?

Wrapping the newborn baby or swaddling it is a practice carried out since ancient times by different cultures. This is documented by the Madrid Costume Museum, attached to the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports, in the book “Babies. Uses and customs about birth ”.

It consists of placing a blanket around the baby that fits enough to his body to immobilize his arms and legs. There are those who do it partially, leaving them free from the waist down in special bags. Either way, it is a procedure that must be learned.

Other research on parenting practices from a historical perspective provides a curious fact. Historians relate that the reason for the child's involvement between the 16th and 18th centuries in France responded to a superstitious popular belief. They prevented the baby from walking on all fours (like an animal), since the rectitude of its limbs was strengthened.

What are the benefits of swaddling the baby?

We then see how the method evolved, adapting its benefits to modern, scientific and maternal notions that transcend the idea of ​​growing up straight and well proportioned. Although basically it is always used for similar purposes: help the newborn to adapt in the transition from intrauterine life to the outside world.

The pressure exerted by the blanket when wrapping the baby creates a climate of security and warmth similar to the experience inside the mother's womb. This brings with it the following benefits:

  • Help baby feel calm and allow him to sleep peacefully.
  • Decrease sudden movements that, on occasions, tend to wake him up with a start.
  • Generates a temperature appropriate to your needs. In the case of premature babies, it is essential for their development.

All these conditions reduce the crying of the baby, sometimes prolonged, in the first days of birth. And it translates into time for the rest of their caregivers, especially for the mother.

It is recommended that the child not be swaddled after 6 months of age, when he can turn.

Do you have any risks?

The increased risk of swaddling the baby is related to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which increases depending on the position in which we lay it down. Based on it, prone or prone positions are discouraged and lateral. The most advisable thing would be to lay him on his back, in a supine position.

Another considerable risk that stands out is the development of hip dysplasia. It involves a deformity that can have lifelong consequences.

Therein lies the importance of letting your legs move and do not immobilize them straight down. This has led to the emergence of alternatives, such as blankets with leg bags.

Read also: Guide for the first days of the baby at home

Recommendations to swaddle the baby safely

To swaddle the baby safely, it is best that the nursing staff train us at the beginning, while we acquire the necessary skills to do it at home.

The first thing we will need is a square blanket, measuring approximately 85 by 85 centimeters. We proceed with the following steps:

  1. We stretch the blanket on a flat surface and fold one of the corners, in the shape of a diamond.
  2. We place the baby's head on the folded corner, always face up, and the rest of the body should be all inside the blanket.
  3. We take his left arm and straighten it. Then we wrap the left corner of the blanket over the body and bring it to the other end, tucking it between the arm and the right side.
  4. We fold the part from the bottom up, we keep it on one side, taking care all the time that it is not too tight.
  5. We repeat point 3, this time with the right arm and the right end of the blanket that we will tuck under the left side. We make sure that it is not so tight that it puts pressure on the chest.
  6. By last, We confirm that it can move, especially at the level of the hips and knees. And that his head has been cleared.

Up to what age is it advisable to swaddle the baby?

Nowadays, the recommended age to stop swaddling is on par with when it begins to turn. It varies according to the development of each child and, on average, it is between two and four months.

According to a meta-analysis titled "Swaddling and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome," it is advisable to stop wrapping them before the sixth month. At this age, almost all babies turn over on their own and by doing so the risks of accidents increase.

Can there be any complications?

The main complications are listed in the risks: they are sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and hip dysplasia. Others with less evidence are also associated, such as the following:

  • Overheating: It is true that among the advantages of swaddling the baby is that of helping to regulate the temperature. However, so that it is not reversed, we must ensure that the room is well ventilated. Or, if it is closed, set a suitable temperature that prevents the blanket from generating excessive heat for the child.
  • Weight loss: newborns tend to lose weight in the first few days. In pediatrics it is known as physiological loss. A Russian study shows that swaddled babies take longer to recover and gain weight than those who have been freely dressed.
  • Respiratory infections: These conditions are a controversial issue regarding their association with the practice. The reason is that there are as many articles against as in favor. Some argue that the procedure reduces oxygen saturation and others claim that, on the contrary, it helps the baby to stabilize breathing.

Instructions on how to properly swaddle the child can be received prior to discharge from the hospital.

Discover: 8 Things You Should Never Do To Babies

Other considerations if we are going to swaddle the baby

We already know the positions of specialists on the recommended age to stop swaddling the baby. It is enough to add to this our maternal instinct. It will not fail us to tell us when to abandon technique.

We can do it gradually; only at night, then the first hours while falling asleep to a complete stop. Some pediatricians advise against swaddling babies who have not been used to sleeping like this from birth.

That is, if this method was not used at birth, it is not recommended to start practicing it after 2 or 3 months. It could affect sleep patterns and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.