Why do we wrap newborn babies, and does it help prevent SIDS?

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Some parents choose to wrap their baby for sleep and others choose to use a safe sleeping bag.

Wrapping is a safe way to prepare your baby for sleep if baby is placed on their back and cannot yet roll. Wrapping can be a great way to help your baby feel safe and settled and can be practiced right from birth.  It also helps keep baby on their back in those early weeks.

One of the most common questions new parents ask is about how they can safely wrap their babies and when should they stop wrapping their babies.

Key things to remember:

  • Wrapping, when used appropriately, is a beautiful settling strategy that parents and care givers can use to help soothe and settle for sleep in the early infancy.
  • Always modify your wrapping technique to meet the developmental changes of baby i.e. when baby looks like they will begin rolling soon.
  • It is very important that babies have access to their arms when they can do this as they need to be able to move into a position of safety if the accidently move into an unsafe position
  • Wrapping is a safer option than bags that completely enclose an infant within a bag.
  • If you choose to use a sleep bag, chose a safer design – one that is the correct size for baby, is well fitted across the chest and neck, has full sleeves or arm holes (so baby has access to arms), with no hoods or head coverings (to help prevent overheating)
  • Wrap should be made from muslin or light cotton material
  • Do not overdress under the wrap – to prevent overheating
  • Wrap should be firm but not tight – to allow for hip and chest wall expansion
  • Do not introduce wrapping if baby is not normally wrapped
  • Your nurses and midwives in hospital will show you how to wrap your baby and you will have plenty of practice!

To reduce the Risks of Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy (SUDI), including SIDS and fatal sleep accidents follow the 6 Safe Sleep Recommendations

  1. Always place baby on their back to sleep, not on the tummy or side
  2. Keep baby’s face and head uncovered
  3. Keep baby smoke free, before and after birth
  4. Safe sleeping environment night and day
  5. Sleep baby in their own safe cot in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months
  6. Breastfeed baby

 “Sleeping your baby on their back is important for every sleep – including naps,” says Red Nose Chief Midwife, Jane Wiggill.

“Wrapping, when used appropriately, is a useful strategy that parents can use to help their babies to settle and sleep on their back during the early months of life.”

“But remember to discontinue wrapping your baby as soon as they show signs of attempting to roll.”

“There is limited evidence that wrapping infants on the back has a protective effect against sudden unexpected deaths in infancy however wrapping and placing babies on the back provides stability and helps to keep babies in the recommended back position.”

Back sleeping is just one of Red Nose’s six safe sleep recommendations. To educate yourself on the others, visit www.rednose.org.au or visit our team of safe sleep educators at the expo who will be happy to answer all of your questions!

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