Swaddling babies is on the rise: Add it to the long list of mixed messages new parents get about infant care. It helps fussy babies calm down, but given some health concerns, your swaddling technique (and frequency) should be checked out.
One of the first things many new parents learn these days is the craft of swaddling their infant children. I, for one, remember with a feeling almost approaching fondness the moment during parenting class when I had to demonstrate for all assembled how to swaddle a doll in a theoretically sound manner. (I did it, more or less, a rare personal triumph over my own lack of spatial relations skills.)
Swaddling is great. It has a way of transforming a wildly flailing, highly annoyed noise-emitting little vortex of fuss into a sweet, restful, convenient-to-carry bundle of joy – the kind you'd always anticipated bringing into your lives, and have been somewhat disappointed to see only intermittently among all the diaper changes and random meltdowns.
But – like basically anything baby related – the practice has a recently renewed sheen of controversy. Via BBC:
Writing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Prof [Nicholas] Clarke [of Southhampton University Hospital] argued: "There has been a recent resurgence of swaddling because of its perceived palliative effect on excessive crying, colic and promoting sleep.
"In order to allow for healthy hip development, legs should be able to bend up and out at the hips. This position allows for natural development of the hip joints.
"The babies' legs should not be tightly wrapped in extension and pressed together."
Fear of hip damage runs side-by-side with other concerns about infants overheating (ah, the often grandma-instigated temptation of adding that second ... and third ... and fourth blanket) and a raised risk of crib death. Granted that the concerns largely focus on improperly restrictive swaddling (and/or parents who place swaddled infants to sleep on their faces, who are hopefully a small-to-nonexistent percentage of the population) but it's still scary stuff.