Unraveling The Controversy Over Swaddling Babies - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Unraveling The Controversy Over Swaddling Babies

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WMDT 47 NEWS - To swaddle, or not to swaddle. Swaddling is an age-old practice of bundling up newborns. But it's now also the focus of a fairly recent debate among pediatricians, child care providers, and parents.

For some newborn babies swaddling provides comfort. "It decreases the crying time," explains Salisbury pediatrician, Dr. Sophia Avendano-Welch. "It decreases the parent's frustration. It decreases possibly their risk for abuse." Susan Warthen runs the "Bundles Of Joy" daycare center on Milford St. in Salisbury, "Children who want to be swaddled, they will let you know. Because those children, they won't sleep without it. They want to be warmed and wrapped and snuggled in that position."

But swaddling has become the subject of controversy for two main reasons. The risk of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS. And the potential for hip problems.

In 2011, the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education recommended against swaddling, leading some states to ban the practice in child care centers, while other states have addressed swaddling in their child care licensing standards. "We follow child licensing regulations," explains Warthen, "but there are no licensing requirements for swaddling specifically at this time in the state of Maryland."

Because data about the benefits and safety of swaddling conflict, the American Academy of Pediatrics has not taken an official stance on the practice. But they do recommend that babies should not be swaddled past 2 months of age because at that time they start to flip over on their own. "They're saying, if you're going to, then this is the recommendation," Dr. Avendano-Welch tells WMDT. "But they're not saying don't."

A recent study saw hip dysplasia among babies carried around in tight swaddling. But modern swaddling calls for freedom of the legs and hips. And the blanket also needs to be loose enough that a hand can fit between the blanket and the baby's chest, so the baby doesn't have trouble breathing. But the blanket should not be so loose that it unravels.

Inside Pregnancy

Join WMDT's Emily Lampa as she explores the world of pregnancy. You can read about the do's and don't's plus tips from experts on safety for expecting mothers.

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