Before leaving the hospital, the nurses will show you how to swaddle your baby — it's a practice as old as time, where the baby is placed on a blanket, arms restrained and legs slightly bent.
The technique is soothing and aids the child's sleep, and helps in the first few months of life before the baby starts to roll over. It is said to mimic the baby's experience in the womb by creating a sense of warmth and security with light pressure all over the body.
Some doctors have warned that the traditional swaddling method, where the legs are held together, curtailing movement, does not allow for healthy hip development. They say the legs should be able to bend up and out at the hips, so mothers should take note.
You can swaddle your baby with a light receiving blanket, or buy swaddling clothes at the baby store. These clothes have a loose pouch or sack for the baby's legs and feet, allowing for plenty of hip movement and flexing.
Here's how to swaddle a baby:
1. Spread a medium to large thin blanket on the bed. Bend one edge of the blanket into a triangular fold.
2. Place the baby's head, face up, where the fold is, with the body on the rest of the blanket.
3. Pull the three remaining edges of the blanket over the baby, beginning with one of the edges over the arm. Tuck that edge under the baby, on the opposite side.
4. Next, fold the bottom edge upwards over the baby's legs, leaving room for the legs to move freely.
5. Pick up the other corner of the blanket and secure it over the baby's body, in the opposite direction. Tuck the blanket under the baby. The baby's head and neck should be exposed and the blanket should be loose enough for movement, but secure enough so the baby can feel the soothing effects. A swaddled baby should only be placed on his back to sleep.