A child is born sweet and lively. Then, with swaddling infants tense up, hold their breath, and withdraw inside. Because they shut down, it might look like they like it. But swaddling blocks their natural movement, and this is what hurts their health and development. Long term harm is seen in relationships, behavior, and learning.
People swaddle babies to save themselves “trouble” when they’re “too busy.” Swaddling serves adults’ needs, not infants’. When grandparents are far away, parents may rely on “how-to” advice. However, average advice may not be helpful. Infants are unique individuals.
Why Not Swaddle
Swaddling hurts children right at the outset of their lives. Once born, babies no longer need the confines of the womb. Swaddling contributes to life-long anxiety and rage. It is destructive. It ignores babies’ needs and feelings. Infants’ needs are real. Infants need intimate contact with their mothers. They need to move naturally. Swaddling, especially tight swaddling, doesn’t make babies happy at all. Healthier babies fight against it, but eventually they learn to give up. Swaddling is deadening. That’s why it quiets infants.
Infants have reasons for crying. Cries for help or to relieve tension make perfect sense. Babies cry more in evenings and less with tender holding. Babies who are held 4-5 hours each day are happier and cry less.
Healthy mothers follow maternal instincts. They learn babies’ needs and rhythms. Breastfeeding is their first option for calming. Parents hold infants, rock them, step outdoors with them, make eye contact, and move gently with them. Kind touching promotes infants’ emotional well-being and physical health. Infants learn through their senses while being held in parents’ arms and laps.
The goal of parents is to respond to babies’ needs and protect their tender sensitivity. This encourages a child’s expansive health and future relationships.
To write this blog, I used research by Dee Apple, Ph.D.