Special Report: Swaddling Reconsidered


More on Routine Swaddling


Rethinking Swaddling from author Nancy Morbacher, IBCLC, FILCA. Originally published in Nancy Morbacher: Breastfeeding Reporter, Sept 2010


More Debate on Swaddling, an exchange between Harvey Karp, MD and Nancy Morbacher in response to “Rethinking Swaddling,” a feature article in the Journal of Childbirth Education, Sept 2010.

The Question of Routine Swaddling

New research takes a closer look at the act of swaddling and the reasons why its routine use may not be best for baby. 

Remember the bumper sticker, “What Would Jesus Do?” Here’s a variation on that query: What would Jesus’ mommy do? We are told his mother wrapped her newborn in swaddling clothes. So if it’s good enough for baby Jesus…?


Yet simply because a practice has been widespread in various cultures and time periods doesn’t mean it is best for babies.


Likewise, even though routine swaddling may have popular authority on its side at the moment—through bestselling books, advertising, parent education organizations, and even the apparent evidence of first-hand experience—this does not in itself mean its benefits outweigh potential disadvantages in the light of current research and intuitive common sense.


Read the Article 

Peggy O’Mara Responds

Calming Alternatives

Harvey Karp’s book The Happiest Baby on the Block has changed the landscape of parenting in the US. As a result of its irresistible title, easy to learn method and national network of 2500 teachers, most new parents in the US today are instructed to swaddle their babies. Despite this popularity, there are growing concerns that swaddling is not the cure-all parents hoped it would be.Since the publication of the book in 2003, I have increasingly heard reservations from health professionals about its recommendations. A nurse practitioner wonders if the shushing sound recommended in the book is too loud. A renowned neonatologist worries that preventing a baby from flapping his or her arms to cool down might hurt temperature regulation. And, more recently I began to hear that routine swaddling had adverse effects on breastfeeding.


Continue Reading

Here are some simple, calming suggestions to use as an alternative to regular swaddling.
    1. Holding


    1. Babywearing


    1. Breastfeeding


    1. Walking


    1. Rocking


Join the Discussion


Ask questions and discover expert feedback about routine swaddling in the Mothering community.


Additional Resources


Swaddling:  A Historical, Cultural, and Lactational Perspective: a powerpoint from Linda J. Smith, BSE, FACCE, IBCLC, FILCA






Image by Geoffrey Wiseman


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