To Swaddle or Not to Swaddle?-That is the question

swaddled baby 4

Swaddling is a parenting topic that has been talked about quite a bit lately.  It can be a difficult to decide if you want to swaddle your baby or not.  I have been a fan of swaddling for quite awhile but just like anything, swaddling can be abused.  I find many of my clients say that their babies sleep well when being held but wake up as soon as they put the baby down.  This makes perfect sense since they just came out of a tight space where they were constantly feeling tight.  When they are born the freedom of space that they now have actually makes them uncomfortable.  Swaddling is a wonderful tool to help babies sleep better.

Before swaddling make sure:

  • Baby is well fed.  A baby who has only snacked, will wake up more frequently.  Make sure to take off baby’s clothes before starting the feeding.  Feed from one side, massaging your breast to encourage baby to keep feeding when he/she slows down.  After baby does not respond to the massaging anymore, take your baby off breast, burp, change and repeat process on the other side.
  • Make sure to burp your baby well.  This can sometimes take up to 10 minutes or so.  Many parents make the mistake of putting baby down right after the feeding because most babies have fallen asleep.  Parents are afraid that if they handle baby too much, it will wake up and then be hard to get back to sleep-especially at 3am.  If baby has had enough to eat, it may stir while you are going through the act of the swaddle but your baby will settle down quite quickly after being swaddled.  If baby does not settle, then you know there is something else it needs.  Most of the time it is that they need more milk or to be burped.
  • Make sure baby’s diaper is dry.  A very full diaper can disturb a sleeping baby and they may wake sooner than necessary.
  • Pay attention to the temperature.  Remember that baby only needs one more layer of clothing than you are wearing.  The swaddle that I recommend uses 2 blankets and is very difficult for baby to get out of.  If you don’t do the swaddle tight enough and they are able to loosen it, then your baby may wake up because it is cold or a blanket may cover your baby’s face.  If your house is quite cool, place your baby in a onesie and then swaddle.
  • Leave the leg area fairly loose.  The swaddle is meant for the arms/body to be tight.  Many people are discussing how swaddling can lead to hip dystocia, which is a misalignment of the hip joint.  If you leave the bottom fairly loose, this is not an issue.
  • Only swaddle for sleep!  If your baby is alert, do not swaddle.  Swaddling is a sleep tool so as soon as your baby is showing signs of sleep, that’s when you swaddle.

How to swaddle:

  • The trick to my swaddle is using 2 blankets.  It was originally shown to me by “The sleep Doula”.  One blanket can be a regular receiving blanket and the other should be larger and preferably have some stretch to it.  The Moses blankets are a good size but tend to not have very much stretch.
  • Place the larger blanket on a non-slippery surface with the smaller receiving blanket on top.  Place them with one corner at the top like a diamond and fold down the top slightly.
  • Place your baby with neck at the fold.
  • Take one side of the receiving blanket and wrap it around your baby’s arm and tuck under back.  Repeat on other side and twist the blanket together under your baby’s back.  Make sure that the arms are secured at the baby’s side and not under his/her back.
  • Now you can take the larger blanket and wrap one side all the way around baby.  Roll baby onto side so you can tuck it behind the back.
  • Loosely fold up the bottom, keeping in mind that you want baby to be able to move the legs if they want.
  • Grab other side under the blanket but close to the baby.  Pull as you tightly wrap around baby as many times as blanket will allow.
  • Your baby should now resemble a burrito 😉


Remember that if you are doing it right, your baby will probably have woken up by this point.  That’s okay!  Within 5-10 minutes your baby will probably be asleep.  If he/she is not settling, than go through your check list of things like burping, feeding and changing.  If baby is alert, don’t swaddle.  Swaddle should be part of your sleep routine.  When your baby is showing early cues that he/she is getting tired, that’s when you go through your sleep routine including your swaddle.

And lastly…PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.  It will take some time but you will become a master swaddler in no time.


Child Care Options-Which One Is Best For You?

colorful hands
 Child care is one of those things you assume you don’t need to think about for awhile since most moms are off for a year maternity leave. Unfortunately this is not the case. Many child care options need to be thought about 6 months to a year ahead. Here is a list of some of the options available with a few of he pros and cons of each. They are in no particular order.
1. Family
Some new parents are lucky (or unlucky) enough to have a family member that is available to watch the baby. This can have some financial benefits as well as some emotional ones too. Many family caregivers are happy to help out and do not expect much in the way of payment. They are also usually someone that your baby is familiar with so the transition back to work can be an easier one for parent and baby. Some of the challenges could be differing discipline styles and a sense that this is a ‘favor’ they are doing for you and you could feel that this is being held over your head.  This option does not need a lot of early planning but discussing the expectations on both sides will be helpful.
2.  Live in nanny
Live in nannies can be a good option for families that want their child to be in the home but don’t have the option to be a stay at home parent. Many of them become so close to the employer that they seem like part of the family. Some of them also do cooking and housecleaning which can be extremely helpful to a family where the parents are working full time.  This is a hard option if you do not have the space in your home to give them a room or do not want to share your living space with them.  You can look for a nanny that is already in your area or you could sponsor one from another country. Sponsoring can take anywhere from 6 months to a year so look into it early if this is something you are interested in.
3.  Live out nanny
A live out nanny can be a good option if you want to have your child in your home but don’t have the space or desire to have a live in nanny. They are more expensive than live in nannies and may not want to do much in the way of cooking and cleaning.  You will want to start looking 3-4 months before you need to go back to work.
4.  Daycare centre
Daycare centers are a popular option for many parents. Children are able to build social skills because they are surrounded by other children. Be prepared for many sick days during the first year however.  It is inevitable that with children sharing toys, they will also share germs. Many children that have gone to daycare tend to adjust to school easier and have built a healthy immune system by this time ;). Daycare can be quite costly in many areas and the ones with good reputations have long waiting lists. It is best to start looking while you are still pregnant and get on as many list as you possible. You can always take ourself off the list when you have settled in to a centre you and your baby is happy with.
5.  Home daycare
This is a great option for families that want the family environment but the benefits of having a few other children around for the social benefits.  Home daycare costs range greatly. Thy are also something you want to be careful about if they are not registered.

Regardless of the option you choose, you want to do your homework. Whether you are going with a nanny, home daycare, or daycare center you want to choose a good one. Here are some tips on where to start:

  • Ask friends and family if they have anyone they would suggest.  Posting on Facebook is a great way to reach out to people and get a few names to start with.
  • Search for places near by and set up interviews.  This is a great way to compare different places.
  • Call references. Always a good idea to check up on who you are considering. A quick call to references will give you a better sense of who they are. Ask open ended questions and ask how they dealt with certain circumstances. For example, you could ask if they’re child ever got hurt in their care and what was the caregivers reaction. Children are bound to hurt themselves but how it is responded to is really important. Another thing to ask about is how their child was disciplined. It is important that you find caregivers that share the same discipline strategies as you so your child has consistency.
  • Observe the caregiver in action.  If you are interviewing a nanny, have them have a bit of time when they are watching the child while you are at home. Then you could try some short errands out. See how your child responds.   If you are considering a centre, go there with your child and watch how they interact with the teachers and other children.
  • And finally…don’t be afraid to change caregivers if it tuns out it is not a good fit. It is important for both you and your child to feel comfortable with who is taking care of them

Good luck in your journey and feel free to post your references on our Facebook page www.facebook/HelpingHandsDoulaRMT

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