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Pediatrician Carl Seashore: Swaddling is one of many things that parents can do to help soothe a baby who's fussing.
Narrator: Pediatrician Carl Seashore is the director of the newborn nursery at North Carolina Children's Hospital, and an advocate of swaddling, or wrapping a baby snugly in a blanket.
Being wrapped up gives babies a feeling of warmth and security and can help calm them down.
Doctor: Jack here is a little unhappy about being out in the open like this, he doesn't feel safe.
Narrator: It's a new, bright, and busy world for 1-day-old Jack, and he probably misses the comfort of his mother's womb.
Doctor: What swaddling does is provides a re-creation to a degree of that environment and provides comfort for the baby.
Narrator: Swaddling is a great soothing technique that works best during the first 6 to 8 weeks of life.
The most important thing to consider when swaddling is safety – and that begins with using a lightweight cotton or thin flannel fabric.
Doctor: What you want to avoid are the knit or heavy or fleece material-type blankets. It's much harder to swaddle the baby safely in those, and they've got material that's less breathable should it come up near the baby's face or mouth.
Narrator: You should also take care not to wrap your baby up too tightly. A nice snug fit is good enough.
Using the right size blanket will make the job easier.
Nurse Shari Criso: When I say large blanket, I mean a large blanket, not a receiving blanket and not the blankets that you would get in the hospital. Those will last you about a week, and what happens is, the baby will bust out.
Narrator: Shari Criso, a nurse and midwife in Denville, New Jersey, has helped deliver and swaddle more than 600 babies.
There are several different ways to swaddle a baby. Shari will demonstrate one common technique.
Nurse: You want to get something that's at least 40 x 40 inches. This is going to make swaddling so easy. If the baby is bigger, you're going to fold less down; if the baby is smaller, you're going to fold more down. So we're going to go somewhere in the middle. That is going hold him in so he doesn't bust out and it'll help him sleep better at night.
You want to make sure that you put him right in the center and have it come up right to where his shoulders are.
Take the first hand. It's sort of down and to his side so his elbow is still flexed. Okay? I'm going to take this side and I'm going to bring it all the way around and take this arm out. Roll him onto his side and tuck it under his body.
Now I'm going to pick up this corner and I'm going to bring it up. You want to have enough room where they can kick their feet, but also that they feel like they're kicking against something.
Now it's this arm's turn. I'm going to bring that one down with a little bit of flexion in the elbow, okay, and tuck this right behind his shoulder.
Narrator: Put one hand on your baby's chest to hold the blanket in place. With the other, grasp the last section of fabric about 5 inches away from your baby's neck. Fold it over his chest, pulling it to get a snug fit.
Nurse: Create a V neck. I put my thumb right there. This is securing it all. What's left is the last tail. We're actually going to go up over the shoulder. Pull this tight, bring it around and pull. Now I have a pocket to tuck into and now your baby is totally secure and happy and smiling.
Narrator: You can also swaddle your baby in a way that leaves his hands free, so he can suck on his fingers and self-soothe.
Bend his arms at his chest so his hands are up by his face.
When you fold the first corner of the blanket over your baby's body, make sure his arms are tucked in and his hands are peeking out of the top.
Other than that, the steps for swaddling are the same as before.
Nurse: When I bring this around, I'm going to pull real tight and then tuck it right in.
Narrator: Swaddling can help babies stay calm and sleep better, but be sure to place your swaddled baby on his back to snooze. Putting a swaddled baby on his tummy to sleep can substantially raise the risk of SIDS – even more than it does for an unswaddled baby. And make sure to swaddle securely: If the blanket unravels, it'll be loose in the crib with your baby, which is also a risk factor for SIDS.
Doctor: As with most things in life, there is more than one right way to do it and some babies will prefer one method over another.
Narrator: Dr. Seashore will demonstrate another type of swaddle, where you start with the blanket laid out as a square instead of a diamond.
Doctor: Get him up in the middle of the blanket, just out in a big square like this, and you bring the top corner over and tuck it in nice and snug behind his shoulders in the back. And then you get your other top corner here and you come over and again you tuck it in behind his shoulders there, making sure you don't have a lot extra material up here at the top of the blanket that might cover his mouth or face.
When you wrap up your baby's legs, make sure they're bent at the hips and knees and there's enough room inside the blanket to move and kick.
And if you've got extra blanket here you just fold that down, so it's out of the way. And you are left with two little tails here. And so you tuck that behind the shoulders and do the same thing with the other one.
Narrator: Just like the other swaddling technique, you can wrap your baby's hands inside the blanket or leave them free.
When swaddling your baby, use only one blanket. Using more than one blanket can cause your baby to overheat.
And don't keep your baby swaddled all day long. It's a great trick for keeping your baby calm while sleeping, eating, and resting, but be sure to give your baby plenty of unrestricted freedom of movement at other times.
You should stop swaddling if your baby resists being swaddled, kicks off the blankets, or can turn on his own from his back to his side.
Doctor: As the baby gets older, you'll probably find you're needing to do it less and less as they become more comfortable in life outside the womb.
Narrator: Learning to swaddle your baby securely takes a little practice.
Once you master the skill…
Doctor: It just takes a minute.
Narrator: And that's a wrap.