Is Swaddling Really Dangerous?
Keep calm and swaddle on
I remember those long nights when my daughter screamed for hours for no apparent reason. My husband and I were uptight and desperate new parents and we ran around giving her gas drops, changing her diaper, patting her back, playing soothing ocean sounds. Nothing worked until someone mentioned swaddling. The moment we wrapped her up she drifted off to sleep. It’s like all she wanted was to be put in a little straight jacket with ducks printed on it. My daughter is a toddler now and won’t stand for a swaddle, despite the fact that some nights I’m tempted to put her in a straight jacket. At four months old, my son loves the swaddle so much that I actually have to force him to come to terms with the fact that he can’t go to college swaddled. We’ve been trying to swaddle break him and it’s pure misery.
The swaddle makes babies sleep. So you would think that it could be the one parenting thing we can unite around, but no. Not everyone loves peace, happiness and the swaddle. A new study suggests that babies who are swaddled have a greater risk for hip dysplasia. Swaddling can render a baby’s legs immobile, but in order for hips to develop properly the legs need to be relaxed. Today.com reports, “Doctors suspect that swaddling increases the risk of dysplasia because it gets in the way of normal development,” says Dr. Anthony Scaduto, chief of pediatric orthopedics at the Orthopedic Institute for Children at the University of California, Los Angeles.
But before you put away your swaddles, keep in mind that there are safe ways to swaddle. Swaddle blankets like the Swaddle Me and the HALO Sleep Sack allow a baby’s legs to move while keeping their arms nice and snuggly. There is also a video on safe swaddling techniques. As an article in Slate points out, the risk of hip dysplasia isn’t relevant to American babies, because swaddling practices here don’t render a baby’s legs immobile. And rates of hip dysplasia in America are not on the rise. So swaddle away, you tired parents!
Also, the risks of not swaddling may be greater than wrapping up that little burrito. Fussy babies don’t sleep. Moms of fussy babies don’t sleep. And a lack of sleep can lead not only to pouring your coffee in your cereal but also to increased rates of postpartum depression.
Swaddling has often come under fire; it’s banned in Texas day cares and Pennsylvania just passed a similar law. Yet, despite the debate over swaddling, most experts don’t recommend swaddling past four months. Some signs that your baby could be ready to bust out of the swaddle include, self-soothing, rolling over and asking to take the car out for a spin (Seriously, can we swaddle teenagers?).
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