Startle Reflex and the Art of Swaddling

Posted by on Aug 6, 2013 in babble, sleeping | 0 comments

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Did you know that babies have almost no control of their limbs until they reach approximately 3 months of age? They have a very sudden and uncontrollable movement called a Startle Reflex, where their arms shoot out to the side, almost as though they were falling.  When babies get overtired, or sometimes as they are nodding off, this reflex can wake them up.   For this reason and for thousands of years, we have swaddled very young babies for the first few weeks of their life.

This not only helps them feel snug and secure as they get used to life outside the womb, but also helps to prevent them thrashing and bashing themselves when they get over-tired.  There is a knack to swaddling, but you can follow this link to give you some guidance.

I have used swaddling with every baby I’ve worked with and for many years I have used the Aiden & Anais swaddle.  It is super soft, huge and very pretty.  Our young Prince George was bought home from hospital in one, so I am sure the Duchess of Cambridge took a leaf out of my book!

There are several techniques which you could use to swaddle your baby, including a clever method where you simply secure baby’s arms, leaving the body uncovered.  This is particularly useful for babies born at the height of a heatwave, although this is hardly a common occurrence on our soggy little island.

Once your baby reaches an age where his limbs are more controllable, he will gradually leave the swaddle behind and begin finding self reassurance in other things such as his fist, a thumb or a little comfort blanket or toy.  This can be anywhere from 2- 4 months.  Some of my babies have loved it so much, they have continued being half swaddled at bedtime until they are 5 months old!

Once they are happy to have their arms out, you can progress your baby to a sleeping bag, using different Tog Ratings according to the season.  Some excellent and very pretty sleeping bags can be found here.

Whatever you choose to use, Night Night and Sleep Tight.