With each new baby I had the pleasure of bringing into this world, I felt an immediate and intense desire to wrap my arms around this tiny newborn and hold him or her as close to me as was humanly possible.
I remember that moment when I heard my babies’ first cries. Their first exposure to the environment, after strong contractions pushed them into this world, had to have been frightening for them. After all, these infants had just spent nine months completely enveloped in comfort.
To swaddle a newborn means to wrap the infant securely in a way that keeps their limbs close to their bodies. Newborns come out of a warm, soft, secure and nurturing environment, cradled in a womb where their movements are fluid but restricted. They float inside an amniotic sac and are stable and consistently nourished. Their surroundings are safe – until the day they are born.
Suddenly they are thrust into a cold, hard hospital room where their arms and legs are no longer comfortably and securely held close to their bodies.
Swaddling pulls their limbs close to their bodies where they once again feel safe. As they mature, they will explore the world with their hands, and they will move their legs to guide them. But for now, newborns need to be swaddled.
The practice of swaddling, according to wikipedia.org, has been around since 4000 B.C. Using bands of cloth wrapped around a baby, parents in biblical times wrapped their newborns in a way that was similar to wrapping a bandage around a wound.
Today Mom and Dad swaddle their infants in receiving blankets, and nurses in maternity wards teach parents the proper way to swaddle their newborns.
The best way to swaddle your newborn is to place your baby on a receiving blanket with his or her head below one of the corners. Take the corner to your left and pull it over the baby, tucking it under baby’s back and bottom.
Then pull up the bottom corner and place it on your infant’s tummy. Tuck the last corner, the one on your right, snugly around and under your newborn.
Wrapping, or swaddling, newborns gives babies a sense of security and warmth. Holding infants close while they are also swaddled securely in blankets helps newborns feel safe and loved.
So hold your newborns close and swaddle them in soft warm blankets. Take time to enjoy this brief stage in their lives. Take it from me – before you know it, you will be swaddling their infants.