Historically speaking, it was commonly believed that swaddling was essential for the infants to develop proper posture. Historical records reveal that swaddling first developed around 4000 B.C. in Central Asia with use of the backpack cradle board by migrating peoples.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. ( Luke: II: 6-7)” ~ King James Version
So you could say the renaissance of swaddling in the U.S. is a bit of a throwback, thanks Dr. Harvey Karp (Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine and Happiest Baby Guru) and pediatric nurses everywhere.
I think swaddling is very helpful for newborns. They have tendencies to wake themselves up with the little jitters they do when they’re sleeping and the reflexive flailing they’re prone to when they’re awake (reacting to a loud sound or a sneeze or something). Granted, swaddling is only advised for newborns up to one month old, it is a valuable skill for dads to master.
With the birth of our third child, I have slipped back into the role of Family Swaddler. I enjoy the title, it is right up there with Mr. Barbecue, The Family Trashman and Cleaner of All Things Disgusting. Swaddling is a bit of an art form; I say this because every child warrants their own slightly different swaddling technique.
This video illustrates a good standard technique. She has a swaddling blanket with a lot of “stretch” which is good and it is lightweight which is also one of my preferences. You can always do a double-swaddle (swaddle the baby with two separate blankets), I know, pretty advanced stuff.
The idea is the baby had very restricted movement in utero and is most comfortable with that “squished” feeling from a proper swaddle. The best thing for dads to keep in mind is to think “snug fit”, not “tight fit”. You don’t want to cut off circulation or anything. Granted, my middle-child was a complete Houdini and could shimmy out of the snuggest swaddle but that was a precursor to the “fire-cracker” personality he has today.