Many new mothers the world over are taught the same thing: that it is normal, if not encouraged, to swaddle their babies in the first year of the baby’s birth. I can remember growing up as a child hearing anecdotes of my European great-grandmother wrapping up my baby brother “tight like a soldier.”
The practice of swaddling babies, wrapping them in a tight cocoon-like blanket, has been passed down through generations of families and is even today still taught in hospitals. It is thought to be soothing and calming, helping the little one to settle into sleep. But what if this traditional practice could actually be harming our children?
According to an American study, swaddling infants may be linked to the phenomenon of SIDS. Photo source: iStock.
The study took into account data including 2,519 cases of infant death, 760 of which occurred as a result of SIDS. Of these 2,519 deaths, a significant 323 infants were swaddled, and nearly half of those swaddled were lost to SIDS.
Further research showed that when babies were set to sleep swaddled on their side or stomach, their chance of dying of SIDS was 50 per cent greater than blanket-free babies in the same placement. When placed on their backs, the rate of SIDS caused deaths lessened, though still showed greater risk than unswaddled children.