Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Swaddling danger

What can make us feel more comfortable than hugging and snuggling? We all need this simple expressions of love and affection. It calms us down. It makes us feel worry free. All mammals hug and snuggle. Even snakes and birds snuggle. The reason behind it is the way the mammals, birds and snakes develop after conception – in a confined, space of a uterus or an eggshell. We carry this need through our lives, but it is the strongest in early infancy. I doubt that a crying baby can become “spoiled” by being picked up and held tightly every time. The problem is that we can’t do it every time a baby cries. We decided to cheat the nature and invented swaddling. Swaddling is a hugging and snuggling surrogate. It is known forever to work wonders for upset babies. Swaddling a baby is not hard, but it has a few tricks. In old time swaddling was a skill passed down from generation to generation. Now young parents don’t have anyone around to learn it from. The gap was filled by a multitude of companies offering swaddling garments, which require less effort and fewer skills than a blanked.

There is a small but significant difference between a baby blanket used for swaddling and swaddling garments: the fasteners. All baby garments designed to make swaddling easy use some form of fasteners, such as snaps or velcro. This could make them more dangerous with improper use. An article published by the Journal of Pediatrics in January 2014 described 36 serious incidents, including deaths, reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which were attributed to improper swaddling. In two thirds of incidents a swaddling garment was used. The number of unreported incidents is probably many times higher.

Swaddling is good if done right – parents need to be educated on how to do it. There are risks regardless of what is used, higher with a garment and lower with a blanket. Informed and educated decision on what to use and how to use seems to be the key to safely and happily sleeping babies and parents as well.