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FOX Medical Team

Swaddling 101: How to wrap your baby correctly

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ATLANTA -

Swaddling is one of the first secrets parents learn to calm their babies, and help them sleep, but remembering how to wrap the baby correctly can be a challenge.

The goal is to wrap the baby securely, but still give him or her enough room to kick.

A pediatrician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta warns parents not to swaddle the babies' legs too tightly because over time, he says that can cause hip dysplasia.

Kathi Frankel, a physical therapist at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, is a baby whisperer. She says one of her secrets is swaddling. Watching her calm 5-week-old Zander Dawson is almost magical.

People have been swaddling newborns since Moses was a baby, mostly because it's calming.
     
"Swaddling is something that mimics the womb.  The baby was tight in the womb before birth," said Frankel.

Kathi recently gave Zander's mom, Laura Dawson, and FOX 5's Beth Galvin a lesson in Swaddling 101. She showed them how to support the baby's head, move slowly, and wrap him in an cloth envelope.

"These guys are depending on us to hold them, to hold their postures.  They easily startle.  By not startling a baby, they don't cry as much," said Dawson.

Laura, a first-time mom, learned how to swaddle in a prenatal class. She and her husband Brad know how to bundle Zander, but keeping him wrapped is the challenge.

"When he wakes up in the middle of the night, half the time, it's because he's broken loose of his swaddle. I think he just feels uncomfortable and not safe," said Dawson.

Kathi shows us how to wrap the baby tightly, but loose enough for the baby to kick.  If the blanket is too tight, over time that can cause hip problems.  nd instead of wrapping Zander's arms, she leaves them free.

"Because that allows him to grasp and hold onto the blanket and find his mouth easily," said Frankel."If you look at pictures of fetal ultrasounds you will see the hand to the mouth most often."

Once we have the basics, it's time for the Swaddling Challenge. Laura goes first.  And, it's clear out of the gate that she is the teacher's pet. But she wasn't perfect.

"I have to give her an ‘A-‘ because one arm," said Dawson.

Laura wrapped up one of Zander's arms. Pretty soon, he kicked out of her swaddle.

Beth's technique was so-so.  Zander wasn't that happy, and Frankel said her swaddle was kind of weak.

"A little bit of a loose swaddle, we'll have to give her a B," Frankel said.

So, how long should babies be swaddled? Kathi Frankel says it depends on the baby, but she recommends swaddling until the infant is about four months old.

Want to refresh your swaddling technique?  Here's a Children's Healthcare of Atlanta how-to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m6X4ECuQ68&feature=plcp

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