In light of recent media attention regarding the safety of swaddling, we are sharing this guest post by Dr. Rallie McAllister MD, MPH. It was originally posted on the Baby Safety Zone and shared with us from our friends at JPMA. Dr. Rallie is a nationally recognized physician, known for the nationally syndicated newspaper column, Your Health. She has authored hundreds of other health articles on a variety of health-related websites, including WebMD.com, lifetimetv.com, ivillage.com, ParentsMagazine.com, msn.com and BabyCenter.com to name a few.
One of the hardest parts of being a mom is making the best, safest choices for your children. This is often complicated by changing, conflicting medical advice and media reports.
Case in point is the May 2016 Pediatrics study that questioned the safety of swaddling and implicated swaddling in increased risk of SIDS.
In our Tweet-length-attention-span world, the nuances of studies like these are quickly lost. To make matters worse, over-simplified, headline-grabbing sound bites don’t come anywhere close to telling the full story.
Here are important points to understand:
• This study was a review of a handful of previously published studies. It didn’t include new research designed to study swaddling in depth.
• The studies didn’t clearly define “swaddling.” It’s not possible to know if the babies who died of SIDS were swaddled safely and correctly and using products made specifically for swadding—or if these babies had been “swaddled” incorrectly.
• One of the findings of the study is that babies are at risk for SIDS when they sleep on their stomachs. This was already a clearly established risk—and it’s a risk whether a baby is swaddled or not.
So often in parenting, as in life, the best advice is to “stay the course.” Mothers have instinctively swaddled their babies, generation after generation. Babies are born from completely warm, safe, comforting wombs into a cold, new world. Swaddling helps babies experience the comfort and sense of security that they had in the womb.
“All human nurturers swaddle their babies, and of course I swaddled my babies,” Hana R. Solomon, MD, a mom of four grown biological children, two grown “spiritually adopted” children, a grandmom of 8, and a pediatrician, in Columbia, MO. “Babies are grown in a warm—the perfect temperature actually—and tight space. When babies are born, they feel best in a warm, tight space. Swaddling is perfect for this.”
Here’s my takeaway from the Pediatrics study: If a parent or caregiver has concerns about how they are swaddling their child with a blanket or if they are unsure they are doing it correctly, seek guidance from a child care professional. Another alternative is to choose a specially designed swaddler. These products are easy to use, and swaddlers help you to achieve the optimal safe swaddle so your little Houdini can’t wriggle out of it.
I swaddled all three of my babies. I encouraged my son and daughter-in-law to swaddle my grandbabies. And I advise my patients to do the same. This study doesn’t change any of that for me.
Certainly, we owe it to our babies, and the generations of babies to come, to conduct additional studies about SIDS, swaddling, and other parenting practices. We all want the same thing: Safe, healthy, happy babies.
Read more from NPR here.