Safe Wrapping Guidelines for Babies

Safe Wrapping Guidelines.jpg

Just like understanding the safe sleeping guidelines, it's good to know what the safe wrapping guidelines are if you choose to swaddle or use a sleeping bag with your little one.

When my baby boy was born, I received a lot of conflicting advice about how he should be wrapped - tightly, loosely, arms up, arms down, etc and so forth - usually in the context of keeping him asleep. Everyone had a different tip, technique or opinion that, depending on the day, could sometimes leave me wondering if I was doing it 'right' even when my baby seemed happy and content with our current approach. Maybe you can relate?

It was through my own research that I learnt about the importance of ensuring he wasn't over dressed, wrapping for hip development and what sleeping bags were considered safe when he began to roll at less than 2 months of age (much earlier than expected!) which is why I've chosen to write about this on the blog. 

Principles of Safe Wrapping

Red Nose identifies the following principles of safe wrapping:

  • Consider wrapping as a strategy to be used from birth or as soon as the baby is medically well and able to tolerate wrapping, in the case of premature or sick infants.

  • Wrapping can be considered as a strategy to help older infants settle. It would be advisable that the first few times a baby is wrapped for an adult to check baby frequently as wrapping has been shown to reduce baby’s cortical arousal responses and increase total sleep time if they are not used to being wrapped, try several daytime naps in the first instance before wrapping for nighttime or longer periods of daytime sleep.

  • Ensure that baby is positioned on the back with the feet at the bottom of the cot.

  • Ensure that baby is wrapped from below the neck to avoid covering the face.

  • Sleep baby with face uncovered (no doonas, pillows, cot bumpers, lambs’ wool or soft toys in the sleeping environment).

  • Use only lightweight wraps such as cotton or muslin (bunny rugs and blankets are not safe alternatives as they may cause overheating).

  • The wrap should be firm, to prevent loose wrapping becoming loose bedding. However the wrap should not be too tight and must allow for hip and chest wall movement.

  • Make sure that baby is not over dressed under the wrap. Use only a nappy and singlet in warmer weather and add a lightweight grow suit in cooler weather.

  • Provide a safe sleeping environment (safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding).

  • Babies must not be wrapped if sharing a sleep surface (including bed-sharing) with an adult. Sharing a sleep surface with a baby can be hazardous in certain circumstances. See Red Nose information statement ‘Sharing a sleep surface with a baby’ for advice about sharing a sleep surface with a baby.

  • Modify the wrap to meet the baby’s developmental changes, e.g. arms free once ‘startle’ reflex begins to disappear which is usually around 3 months; (Moro or ‘startle’ reflex should have disappeared completely by 4-5 months).

  • As soon as a baby shows signs of beginning to roll, wrapping should be discontinued for sleep periods.

  • The wrap may prevent an older baby who has turned onto their tummy during sleep from returning to the back sleeping position.

Please read the full article here.

Products I love

Please note that I am not paid to promote any of the below organisations or brands, I have simply found them to be good quality* and am sharing them with you here to save you time searching.

HALO Sleep Sack Baby Swaddle
Two Tykes GOTS certified organic cotton muslin wraps
Nature Baby Sleeping Bags
Nature Baby Cotton and Muslin Wraps

*Good quality to me means that they meet the above safe wrapping guidelines. For wraps, I found larger wraps easier to use and how they washed - that is, they did not shrink, lose their softness - was important to me. For sleeping bags, that they fit correctly according to weight and height, the zips did not break and they washed well determined quality for me. When possible I purchased items made from organic cotton. What determines good quality for you and suits your baby's needs will likely be different to mine and that is more than okay.

Further Reading

Links for you to explore this topic further:

Does the 'Love to Dream' swaddle meet safe sleeping requirements
How to wrap a baby tutorial with Midwife Cath