Does Swaddling Your Baby Cause SIDS?
You may have heard about a study recently that found that swaddling your baby is linked to a higher rate of SIDS, but before you throw out all of your favorite swaddling blankets, let's clear up any confusion right here:
Swaddling does not cause SIDS. Swaddling your baby and placing him on his stomach, however, can place your baby more at risk for SIDS, which is exactly what that now infamous study found.
The study, released by Pediatrics in May, looked specifically at swaddling and how dangerous swaddling a baby before sleeping can be. And not surprisingly, the study found that swaddling a baby and then placing her down on her stomach or side was not a good idea.
People, this is not new information. We already knew that infants should not sleep on their sides or stomachs, therefore swaddling them before laying them down on their stomachs would be even worse since it would restrict their movement.
Alas, tons of websites took the study and twisted the findings to make it sounds like swaddling causes SIDs, but that is not the case at all. What the study did was look at all available studies, all performed outside of the U.S. (in places like the Netherlands), that have been done in the past and while they did find a “small but significant association” between babies that were swaddled on their backs and SIDS, this does not mean that all swaddling = SIDS.
Interestingly, the study found that swaddling, even for babies on their backs, seemed to be associated with an increased risk of SIDS in older babies, which they speculated may have been because swaddling in the Netherlands is done to soothe fussy infants. Maybe the swaddling is more restrictive for babies that are fighting to get out of the swaddle? We can't be certain but in the end, if you're wondering what all this confusing data means to you, let's break it down:
- You don't have to swaddle your baby. Let's clear that up right away. Some babies hate the swaddle, and you shouldn't fight that. If your baby wants to kick free, let him.
- Consider using a sleep blanket instead of a swaddling blanket — they have less chance of coming unraveled and posing a potential sleep hazard.
- Always, always put your baby to sleep on his or her back.
- Follow safe sleep habits, including offering a pacifier if your baby wants one, placing a fan in the room, and making sure your baby sleeps in your room if you want, but not in the same bed as you.
Do you swaddle your baby?