Swaddling or wrapping a newborn baby can help settle him because he feels warm and secure. Also babies have a tendency to wave their hands about and sometimes to scratch their faces which can wake them up. A large muslin or a specially shaped swaddling blanket can be used. However, an orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton general hospital has warned that the practice of swaddling is causing a rising number of cases of hip dysplasia. An infants natural hip position is ‘frog style’ with legs drawn up and thighs roughly at right angles to the body. This helps the ball and socket joint develop properly in the hip. Babies’ hip joints are loosened by hormones released by the mother during labour to ease their birth. Tight swaddling forcibly straightens a baby’s legs, leaving it unable to flex and strengthen its weakened joints. For this reason it is advisable to use a specially shaped swaddle called a sleepsack swaddle which leaves the baby’s legs just loosely covered. These can be bought from the Gro Store or from Halo.
Stop swaddling at about four weeks old. Never place a baby on its stomach when swaddled.