Swaddling helps sleeping infants stay on their backs which is important for the reduction of SIDS. According to a Washington University School of medicine study (St. Louis, December 2, 2002), infants sleep better when swaddled and when babies sleep better, parents can also sleep better. Swaddled babies have fewer awakenings and twice as much REM sleep, which is believed to be vital for brain development. 'New babies need twice as much REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep as adults. That kind of sleep is thought to play a crucial role in brain development.', according to Penelope Leach, author of Your Baby And Child. Also according to Penelope Leach, efficient wrapping is soothing to babies but wrapping the swaddle blanket too loose, a common challenge for many new parents, may have the opposite effect. 'Your aim is to encase the baby completely so that her limbs are gently held in their preferred position and so that, when she moves, she moves as one complete bundle.'
Proper swaddling also helps the infant sleep better by helping to contain his or her own movements that can sometimes startle him or her awake. Another advantage to proper swaddling is the baby is able to self-comfort by sucking on fingers and hands if they are swaddled with his or her hands near the face. Infants have been observed after delivery bringing their hands to their face within 30 minutes.
Babies can't efficiently regulate their own temperature therefore, swaddling can help keep them warm at a comfortable temperature if the proper swaddling blanket is used. There are different swaddling blankets for different climates. A terrific fabric for warm climates is cotton marquisette. Cotton marquisette is similar to gauze but a lot softer due to the higher thread count and finer threads. It is very lightweight and 100% cotton.
A perfect option for cool to moderate climates is cotton flannel. In United States hospitals, cotton flannel is the first choice in swaddling blankets. Parents can be prepared for varying climates by choosing swaddle blanket sets that have one of each type included.
For the new inexperienced parent who is finding proper swaddling challenging, there are swaddle blankets on the market that have a swaddle instruction tag sewn right into the blanket. This clever blanket makes a terrific baby gift for first time parents!
Swaddling is also believed to make learning to breastfeed easier by keeping baby's arms and legs contained within the snug blanket. Swaddling can help the infant focus better and properly latch-on until he or she has learned to breastfeed easily. Once baby has learned to latch-on easily, the new mom can then begin to breastfeed without the swaddle blanket to engage in more contact between infant and mother.
Organic receiving blankets are a popular choice for parents as well. These blankets are made of soft cotton flannel and are GOTS certified. No unnatural chemicals, pesticides, or insecticides are used in the fabrics to make these blankets.