When our fifth grandchild was born, I was in our daughter’s hospital room alongside our son-in-law helping him freshen up this adorable creature, their third baby. We changed her diaper, put a sleeper on her and prepared to swaddle her.
Our son-in-law has excellent swaddling skills. He employs a technique much like folding a flag, which reflects his military background. The folds are so crisp you nearly want to salute the infant when he’s finished.
As he was spreading out the blanket, my daughter said, “Mom, did you know swaddling babies is now frowned upon?”
I paused before saying the first thought that came into my head, and good thing, because a nurse had quietly entered the room.
I was about to proclaim, “If swaddling was good enough for the Christ child, it’s good enough for this child!”
The young nurse picked up the conversation and proceeded to inform me why swaddling is no longer an accepted practice. I gathered from her tone that swaddling is not quite as bad as letting your children play in traffic, but a close second.
She explained that the new way to put a baby to sleep is to put the baby on her back in the crib, place a blanket over her and tuck the blanket in on both sides of the mattress. This, of course, is a direct violation of the standing edict of the past 20 years that you never, never, never put a loose blanket in a crib with a baby under age 1.
People have been swaddling babies for more than 2,000 years. But why should that stop us from denouncing the practice now? We are nothing, if not arrogant.
Any mother worth her stretch marks will tell you that swaddling calms babies. Swaddling simulates the tight quarters in the womb, reduces crying, allows babies to hold body heat and sleep well. Swaddling for a baby is like a Snuggie for an adult – only much tighter fitting and more socially acceptable.
Bureaucratic fingerprints are all over this baby. The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education now states that “swaddling is not necessary or recommended.” What do you bet they were all swaddled as babies and swaddled their own babies as well?
In California, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, swaddling finds itself wrapped in virtual bans. Pennsylvania parents must obtain a signed wavier from a pediatrician if they want a day care to swaddle their baby.
If only government bureaucrats intent on banning swaddling showed the same enthusiasm for deficit reduction.
Dr. Harvey Karp, one of the best-known gurus of baby sleep, maintains that swaddling has many benefits and “may well reduce infant sleep deaths.” But why listen to him? He’s only a well-respected, highly regarded specialist in how babies sleep; whereas the government specializes in. … I’ll get back to you on that one.
When my obituary for Common Sense was published in a small book several years ago, it’s a shame we didn’t insert 100 blank pages at the back of the book so readers could add their own examples.
Sadly, you could fill a new page almost every day. This is definitely one for the book.