The first time I watched a midwife 'swaddling' my new baby it looked like he was being assaulted. It reminded me of my local butcher wrapping a roast in that shiny paper they use - quickly, efficiently, securely and with no means of escape.
So after years of swaddling my three children - because I was told to at the hospital - it seems this practice is outdated and potentially harmful. Experts are warning that it's bad for our children's hips. They say it can lead to 'developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH)'.
The condition raises the likelihood of needing a hip replacement in middle age or developing late onset osteoarthritis.
Nicholas Clarke wrote in the British journal Archives of Disease in Childhood: "Traditional swaddling is a risk factor for DDH. In order to allow for healthy hip development, legs should be able to bend up and out at the hips. This position allows for natural development of the hip joints. The babies' legs should not be tightly wrapped in extension and pressed together.''
When I asked my midwife why we swaddle babies she said it comforts our babies who have just left the comfort and security of our womb. Swaddling goes back to the days of ancient Greeks and Romans and has been used in the Western World for decades. In Australia the practice is still wide-spread with most hospitals recommending the practice. Swaddling also prevents babies from waking themselves up with the 'startle reflex', when a baby moves suddenly while they are sleeping.
It made sense at the time.
But I never swaddled my babies so tightly that their legs were straightened. For me it was always about trying to secure their arms. Could it be that swaddling has it's place but that we've been taking it too far?
I was never good at swaddling my children. Philip hated to be swaddled and would writhe and struggle until his arms had escaped. He'd then fall peacefully to sleep with his arms rest on either side of his head. He kicked the rest of it off by the four week mark and then blissfully slept in various positions all over the crib, eventually rolling onto his stomach for the face-plant sleep which left me a nervous wreck. HE CAN'T BREATH, I'd whisper to my husband as I gently moved his head so his nose wasn't at all blocked.