How To Safely Swaddle Baby

Photo credit: Sarah Rodenbush, Colgate Mattress Brand Advocate

For new parents, learning to swaddle a baby can seem like a futile effort when the little tike breaks free in only minutes. While nurses make it look easy having mastered their technique, the key is knowing that swaddling is one of the secrets to a happy, calm baby.   

Swaddling is an ancient method for wrapping newborns in a thin blanket or cloth, which resembles the mother’s womb and helps soothe newborns. Swaddling helps prevent baby from flailing their arms and legs, which can potentially cause them to wake up. A swaddle also keeps baby cozy and warm until they can regulate their internal temperature on their own. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that when done correctly, swaddling can be an effective technique to help calm infants and promote safe sleep. But figuring out how to do it yourself can be a little intimidating, especially when you’re lacking sufficient rest. 

If you plan to swaddle your infant at home, AAP recommends you follow these guidelines to make sure you are doing it safely.

 

Step 1: Find a flat surface.

Spread the blanket out flat in the shape of a diamond, with the top corner folded down. 

 

Step 2: Place baby face-up on the blanket.

Baby’s head should sit above the folded edge of the blanket, and their body should extend straight down toward the bottom corner.

 

Step 3: Straighten baby’s left arm.

Wrap the left corner of the blanket over baby’s body and tuck it between the right arm and the right side of their body. 

 

Step 4: Tuck the right arm down.

Fold the right corner of the blanket over baby’s body and under the left side of their body.

 

Step 5: Secure the blanket.

Loosely twist the bottom of the blanket and tuck it underneath your baby.

 

The swaddle should be snug, but not too tight as babies may develop a problem with their hips.  You should be able to place two to three fingers between your baby’s chest and the blanket, and the blanket should be loose around her hips so she can move her legs freely.

To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) it’s important to place your baby on their back every time you put them to sleep.

​Parents should stop swaddling as soon as their baby shows any signs of trying to roll over. Many babies start working on rolling at around 2 months of age. 

The Importance of Skin-to-Skin With Baby

Skin-to-skin contact, also called kangaroo care, provides a bundle of benefits for both mother and baby, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). As a new parent, you’re always there to hold baby tight, whether they’re crying or just want to cuddle. Your warm embrace makes them instantly feel better, and we can all agree that there really is no such thing as loving your baby too much.

Further scientific evidence shows that love, attention, and affection in the first years of life have a direct and measurable impact on a child’s physical, mental and emotional growth. Doctors have found that this skin-to-skin contact decreases babies’ dependency on incubators and also reduces mortality rates from 70 percent to 30 percent.

Doctors around the world recommend this skin-to-skin contact to new moms of both premature and full-term infants. The AAP notes that skin-to-skin is encouraged immediately after birth, throughout the hospital stay and well after discharge. 

Newborns should be placed skin-to-skin with their mother as soon after birth as possible, at least for the first hour. After that, or when the mother needs to sleep or cannot do skin-to-skin, babies should be placed on their backs in the bassinet. The AAP recommends skin-to-skin be given as long and as frequently as possible during the postpartum period, which is typically defined as the first 3 months of life. 

There are plenty of reasons why you should consider the bonding method with your premature or full-term infant. The surprising benefits of kangaroo care for the infant include:

  • Warmth
  • Decreased crying
  • Increased weight gain
  • Increased breastfeeding
  • Stability of heartbeat and breathing
  • Increased time spent in the deep sleep and quiet alert states

These benefits are apparent even when skin-to-skin care occurs for only a few minutes each day. Skin-to-skin care has also been associated with improved mental development, healthy weight and more. Best of all, those perks last long after baby is big enough to run and play on their own. 

colgate crib mattress box in a baby nursery

Choosing the Safest Crib Mattress: The Complete Buying Guide For Parents

colgate crib mattress box in a baby nursery

A quality crib mattress plays an important role in ensuring that your baby sleeps safely and soundly.

As parents, we will do anything to protect and bring comfort to our new bundle of joy. A quality crib mattress not only makes bedtime something to look forward to, but it also ensures safety while sleeping.

Colgate Mattress® has been family-owned and operated for over 65 years and we know that selecting your baby’s first mattress can be an overwhelming task. That’s why we pride ourselves on helping you understand the differences between mattresses and what features are most important. Take a look at these important tips as you begin to determine how to choose a crib mattress that is just right for your little one.


Why is crib mattress safety so important?

The crib mattress is where the majority of your baby’s  growth and development will occur in the critical early years. In fact, baby will spend up to 70% of their time on the crib mattress – and a toddler, up to 50% of their time. So, it’s extremely important to ensure that they’re sleeping on a quality mattress made from superior components that meet all federal government regulations.

 

What should parents look for when shopping for a crib mattress?

Examine the Label

A great place to start is the label. Manufacturers are required by law to reveal what a mattress is made of. Don’t buy a mattress from a manufacturer or retailer that doesn’t tell you this information through the label, online specifications or in-store displays. In fact, you should be able to find out the components of each individual layer, from cover to cover. To ensure the absence of harmful chemicals, look for GREENGUARDTM and CertiPUR-US® certifications. All Colgate products not only meet, but exceed federal and state flammability standards

 

Look for a Firm Mattress

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a crib with a firm crib mattress as a safe sleep environment for infants. So whether you’re searching for a foam or innerspring mattress, look for firmness. For both types of mattresses, the general rule is: the firmer, the better. Newborns develop rapidly over the first two years, which is why you need to find a mattress designed specifically to cater to an infant’s growth. A firm and flat mattress base provides the resistance necessary for developing and strengthening muscles as an infant begins to push up, turn and eventually stand in the crib. 

 

You Can’t Tell a Mattress by its Cover

With a mattress, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Understanding the different components inside the mattress is essential for your baby’s safety and comfort. For instance, are there any cushioning layers? What materials are used? Is there a flammability barrier? Is there waterproof backing? There’s much more to a mattress than just a cute cover. Consider an all-natural option, like the Colgate Natural I, created for the parent wanting a mattress for their baby that is made with 100% non-synthetic components for the healthiest and most comfortable sleep environment possible.  

 

Get the Right Crib Mattress Size

Make sure the mattress will fit snugly inside the crib. This means there shouldn’t be any gaps in-between the mattress and the corners or sides of the crib. The goal is to have the crib mattress fit either very snug or moderately snug in the crib. A good rule of thumb is that no more than two fingers of space should exist between the side of the mattress and the crib frame. Any more than that, the crib mattress is too small and could be a suffocation and entrapment hazard.

 

Buy New

If possible, buy a new crib mattress. Not only does it ensure the mattress is sanitary, but you also won’t have to worry about how it was previously used or stored. One exception to the rule: if you buy a new mattress for your first child, keep it clean and store it in a clean, dry environment (consider Colgate’s storage bag) – then you can use it for your next child.

 

What should be placed on top of the crib mattress?

Once you choose your mattress and put it in your crib, it should be covered with a fitted sheet only — no blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and bumpers which increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. Although the causes of death in many of these infants cannot be explained, statistics show that as many as 80-90 percent are the result of unsafe sleep practices. 

Our DREAM SAFE campaign educates caregivers about lifesaving sleep practices.

 

DREAM SAFE Sleep Practices:

D ~ DO place baby on her back to sleep. Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.

R ~ REMEMBER a firm crib mattress is always best. Firmness aids in development of baby’s muscles and bones. Soft beds naturally give and contour which can impede a baby’s breathing and trap heat, which can also be dangerous.

E ~ ELIMINATE clutter. Do not put anything soft, loose or fluffy in your baby’s sleep space. Only a fitted sheet, mattress pad or waterproof pad should be used under baby.

A ~ ALWAYS place baby in the crib to sleep. Never place your baby to sleep on top of any soft surface. This includes adult beds, couches, pillows, cushions, comforters and sheepskins.

M ~ MONITOR air flow and temperature. Make sure your baby doesn’t get too warm during sleep. Use lightweight sleep clothing and keep room temperature at what would be comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult. For newborns, consider swaddling.

 

Bringing home a new baby can feel overwhelming, but by integrating these safe sleep habits, you will help ensure the safety of your baby every time they rest. It is important to ensure that everyone who cares for a baby is following safe sleep guidance and has access to a healthcare provider if questions arise.

 

For more safe sleep tips, please visit the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association’s Safe Sleep Center.