Swaddling is a great tool for helping your baby fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep longer which is great….until the weather turns hot and your baby is at risk from overheating. However, it is still possible to swaddle your baby as long as you are sensible and careful.
The biggest risk to your baby is the overheating of the major organs which lie in his chest, so aim to swaddle whilst keeping this area uncovered. I always use the Miracle Blanket swaddle (get it from Mothercare or Amazon for about £15) because it is thin, breathable cotton, and because the design allows you to wrap in a great many ways depending on temperature and situation and remains loose around the hips.
I have taken a series of photographs which show the process, but the same results could be achieved by using a large, thin muslin square folded in half to make a triangle.
The aim of the swaddle is to keep the baby’s arms snuggled against his body so he feels secure, and so he can’t wake himself with his startle reflex (uncontrolled jerking of arms) or with his rooting reflex (touching his face with his hands and starting him wanting to suck and so waking up to feed). However, you don’t need to wrap the whole arm, you only need to have the cloth cover just above the elbow, as long as you have the elbow snug, he can’t pull his arm up.
The Miracle Blanket is quite wide and would normally cover the whole chest (great in cold weather) but if you put a twist in it before you wrap it around for the first time, you make it narrow enough so that it wraps around his waist and leaves his whole chest uncovered.
If you have a small baby that needs a second wrap around, just put the same twist in the same place and tuck the end into this twist and baby is snug but mostly uncovered.
The loose foot pocket covers his legs in one thin layer of cotton which means you can then direct a fan onto baby without his legs and feet getting cold.
I have used this method many, many times and it really works.
Baby sleeps well but never get too hot. Unfortunately this won’t work with some of the bag type swaddles that completely cover baby and zip or fasten up the middle, but if you experiment with a large muslin square, you should be able to get the same result.
Remember……catch the arm just above the elbow, and leave the chest uncovered. Please share this with any friends with babies and spread the word on how to safely swaddle in hot weather.
If anyone needs any help with coping in the current UK heat, then please follow the link on my Home page to my Facebook page, which I will monitor closely, and I will answer any questions you might have as soon as I can.
Sarah Norris is one of the UK’s most accomplished maternity nurses, with over 25 years experience caring for hundreds of babies and families in the UK and internationally.
She treats all babies and families as individuals, and respects all forms of parenting and feeding, aiming to help and empower new parents with sensible, practical tips and advice that is always non judgemental and non biased.
She is the author of ‘The Baby Detective’ with Orion Books, to be published in September 2017.