The pros and cons of swaddling

When your baby sleeps restlessly, as a parent you are faced with a difficult choice: whether or not to swaddle Swaddling is an age-old method of calming your baby down. In this article we list all the pros and cons so that you can better determine what is best for your child..

Swaddling is a tradition that has been practiced for thousands of years in different cultures. In some cases, it has even become so much of a tradition that people have actually forgotten why they are doing it. In the Netherlands, swaddling is mainly used to calm restless babies. Babies do not yet have control over their arms and legs and therefore move a lot. By swaddling your baby, he can no longer move uncontrollably.

What is swaddling?

Swaddling is wrapping a baby tightly in a cloth. Swaddling a baby reduces the freedom of movement. There are several ways to do this:

  • Loose form of swaddling: wrap a shawl lightly around the baby, following the baby's position. The legs are free. Products and methods that swaddle in this way: Puckababy, BUNDI from Fedde&Kees.
  • Tight swaddling: fix the arms with stretched hands along the sides with a firmly attached cloth or other aid. Here too, the legs can move freely. Examples of products that swaddle in this way: Boelie inbakerdoek, SwaddleMeyco, Pacco. Of these methods, Pacco is the tightest.
  • Wrap very tightly:  wrapping and securing the arms and legs stretched out. The baby now has no freedom of movement at all.

The latter form is not recommended because tight swaddling of the legs hinders hip development. Swaddling too loosely with a cloth also makes no sense, because if your baby can move, he will kick and knock the cloth away from him. This can even be dangerous, because the baby can become entangled in the loosened cloth. The golden mean therefore seems to be the best option. But is that so Read on quickly..

The benefits of swaddling

Why so many people choose swaddling Swaddling has a number of advantages: 

  • It helps your baby relax.  With swaddling, the freedom of movement decreases, so that the child can no longer move uncontrollably. This way your baby will calm down and fall and stay asleep more easily.
  • It's cheap.  In principle, you only need a cloth to swaddle your baby. It is therefore an inexpensive method to calm your baby. Sidenote: in the Netherlands, more and more people are opting for a swaddling product instead of an ordinary cloth. This makes swaddling a bit more expensive..
  • It's tradition.  This sounds like a weak argument, but people tend to choose a solution that they already know. It feels familiar, because your mother and grandmother also know what swaddling is.

The disadvantages of swaddling

Swaddling is a fairly intense method that does not make every parent or baby happy. These are the disadvantages of swaddling:

  • Swaddling only treats symptoms.  When a baby is restless, it usually has a reason. It is actually better to look for the cause of the unrest, while swaddling only treats the symptoms. So you do not solve the problem, but only suppress the consequences.
  • Swaddling can be challenging.  Not every method is equally simple and this makes it difficult to consistently swaddle your baby in the same way.
  • It is difficult to find the right swaddling method for your child.  What works great for one baby may not work at all for another. Looking for what your baby likes takes a lot of time, money and energy.
  • Many swaddling methods are very warm.  That's wonderful in the winter, but it can be dangerous in hot weather. Of course you want to prevent your child from overheating! Tip: always check the TOG value.
  • Your baby can move less.  Swaddling limits your freedom of movement. This can be annoying for babies who prefer to have their hands up. Freedom of movement is also important for the development of babies, according to some views. Having control over the body helps to learn to sleep independently and to regulate sleep.
  • You are taking away your baby's natural communication signals.  For example, a baby naturally often rubs his eyes when he gets sleepy or puts his hand to his mouth when he is hungry. A swaddled baby can no longer give these signals.
  • Be careful to choose a method that does not interfere with hip development. It is very important that your baby can move his legs normally, so that his hips can develop properly.
  • Swaddling can be dangerous once your baby can roll over.  Between 4 and 6 months, a baby learns to roll over. You must immediately stop swaddling, because this can be very dangerous! To prevent your child from ending up face down and unable to breathe, your child must be able to push himself up with his hands. Tight swaddling methods do not allow this.
  • You have to reduce swaddling again.  This is perhaps the biggest drawback of swaddling. Between 4 and 6 months (as soon as your baby can roll over) you should start reducing immediately. Fine motor skills only develop between 7 and 9 months, so your child is not really ready for this yet. The transition to freedom of movement is very big. Even releasing 1 arm first, while leaving the other arm swaddled, is a (too) big step. There is a good chance that your baby will become restless and will need a lot of time to get used to the new situation. This is the moment many parents think: if only I had never started swaddling!

Mild alternative to swaddling

It remains a difficult choice, isn't it, to swaddle or not to swaddle Fortunately, you can also opt for a mild alternative to swaddling. For example, there are sleeping bags that ensure that your child can no longer move uncontrollably, but that give just a little more freedom of movement than swaddling. 

We have it at Fedde&Kees BUNDI sleeping bag: a sleeping bag with zippers under the sleeves, with which you determine how much freedom of movement your child has. A pleasant alternative to swaddling and also ideal for gradually reducing swaddling, instead of immediately releasing an arm. Unique to the sleeping bag is that you can open the zippers a little further step by step, so that you can taper at the pace of your child.

The womb feeling in bed
Where swaddling combats the symptoms of anxiety, I got it NUNKI sheet develops to cause to deal with. A baby is used to that tight and secure feeling of your womb. In bed he misses that nice and familiar feeling and that makes your baby restless. Instead of decreasing freedom of movement, you can bring that womb feeling to the bed in a nice way with the NUNKI sheet.

The innovative sheet cannot come loose and gives your baby complete freedom to move. The elastic fabric at the top provides a nice pressure on the upper body, so that your baby calms down - even with the hands up! The innovative sheet is awarded with two Baby Innovation Awards and now more than 20,000 babies sleep better with Fedde&Kees. To prevent unrest in bed, Fedde&Kees recommends using the sheet from the very first day.

Check out the NUNKI


Frederieke Meihuizen

Owner Fedde&Kees®

Ik ben Frederieke, getrouwd met Ewoud en mama van 4 kindjes. Na op veel plekken gewoond te hebben, ben ik gesetteld in Nieuwkoop. Ik werkte in de commercie tot mijn vierde kindje geboren werd. Fedde was een huilbaby en vanuit deze wanhoop heb ik de producten van Fedde&Kees bedacht. Ik gooide mijn leven om en begon met ondernemen. Sinds 2018 help ik andere ouders naar een betere slaap!