I am an advocate for swaddling. I have been since I started caring for babies and believe in it’s benefits for both baby and parents. So imagine my shock and disappointment when I startd to see headlines claiming that swaddling was a SIDS risk!Parents are outraged, claiming they’ll never swaddle their baby again and I absolutely understand! A little extra sleep is NOT worth my child’s life.
But. That’s not EXACTLY what happened.
On Monday, an analysis of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk for infants swaddled for sleep was published in the journal Pediatrics. It’s findings were not that swaddling alone may be a cause for SIDS, but the position of your swaddled baby.
Here’s the skinny.
The journal states that “To date, the association between swaddling and SIDS risk remains unclear, and to the best of our knowledge, no comprehensive review of the literature has been performed to determine the strength of this relationship. Although health professionals and parents need this information to help make safe infant care choices, currently no official guidance exists in the United Kingdom or the United States on this topic.”
Basically, they are handing you their info…research for yourself to make the best decision for your baby.
They concluded that a baby who is swaddled and placed on their side is at a greater risk for SIDS than one swaddles and placed on their back. A baby who is swaddled and placed on their stomach is at an even greater risk…but here’s the thing. Stomach sleeping is a no-no anyway (until baby can roll over on their own) and honestly placing a swaddled infant in bed face down just seems like a no-brainer-don’t do it.
This is all information we have been given for years now, and it really is confirming what we’ve all been told by our pediatricians. Baby needs to sleep on their back, swaddled or not.
Additionally, the study found that babies over 6 months who were swaddled were at a greater risk of SIDS. Swaddling benefits younger babies, and 6 months is (in my opinion) getting too old for swaddling anyway. The comfort of the tight “womb” feeling and the control of the startle reflex are no longer needed. 2-4 months is a great time to phase out of swaddling your baby.
In the end, the decision is yours. I feel confident that the benefits of swaddling your baby are beyond powerful and if done correctly it is safe. Please read the entire Pediatrics journal for yourself to be able to make your own informed decision.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these suggestions to lower your baby’s risk of SIDS:
- Bumper pads should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.
- Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
- Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
- The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
- Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
- Wedges and positioners should not be used.
- Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care.
- Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
- Breastfeeding is recommended.
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
- Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
- Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
- Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads).
*Please consult your pediatrician before making medical decisions for your infant. All opinions in this article are not to be mistaken for medical advice.