Parents and caregivers are routinely advised to swaddle newborns. Swaddling infants inhibits the Moro reflex, which allows them to sleep better. Although the practice has many benefits, certain swaddling methods are better than others. For example, did you know it matters how you position your baby’s arms when swaddling?
Health and development professionals recommend swaddling with your baby’s arms on top of his or her chest. They suggest positioning your child’s arms so the hands meet at the body’s midline. This method has advantages over swaddling with your child’s arms straight down at the sides.
Keeping the arms close feels cozy and natural, and babies who feel comfortable sleep better. What’s more, this method of swaddling has several health and wellness benefits for your child.
Gives comfort. This natural position is very much like how your baby positioned himself or herself in the womb. It feels familiar and safe. After all, we don’t see ultrasounds of babies with their arms straight down at their sides.
Supports neurodevelopment. Bringing your baby’s hands together at the body’s midline aids the developing brain. It helps cells and neurons to connect across the right and left hemispheres.
Stimulates the sense of touch. Skin is the body’s biggest organ and the fingertips are highly sensitive. There are as many as 100 pressure receptors in one cubic centimeter of fingertip skin. Swaddling the arms to the body’s midline allows your baby to finger play. This play stimulates developing touch receptors.
Keeps joints mobile and healthy. Orthopedists recommend baby’s hips, knees and elbow joints to flex and stay flexible. Swaddling properly allows for this, and it promotes proper joint development. It also avoids the risk of overextending the elbow joint by positioning your baby’s arms to the side.