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The number one issue I deal with as a post natal doula is sleep deprivation!  Let’s face it, sleep is a most basic human need and we all go a little loopy when we’re low on it.  When I was having babies, my husband and I would refer to it as ‘wake torture’ and it was just that.

Experts in sleep, recommend 7-9 hours of it each night.  How will I ever get back there?, I hear you ask.  Sleep might be a faded sweet memory for you right now, but it will return! 

As all parent’s understand, successful slumberland directly relates to your baby’s sleep patterns.  However, most baby sleep issues are often solved with one pertinent factor: how we dress our babies for sleep. So, let’s take a look at why wrapping or using a sleeping bag (for older babies) could hold the key to more sleep for everyone.

When babies are born, they come from an environment in which they have been perfectly homed; in the warm, firm confines of the womb and this can give us our biggest clue when considering how to get baby sleeping well, once she is born.

Take a little look below at how swaddling achieves some very startling results. *

Swaddling helps:

1. settle your babe

Have you noticed that when you un-dress your baby, that they involuntarily jerk around?  their pupils dilate and they start crying?  A small infant has very little control over her limbs and when baby is around 3-4 months of age, these movements develop into her ‘startle reflex’, this reflex often wakes baby from her sleep.

2. stimulate sleep continuity

Newborns are renowned for taking little bite-sized naps but swaddling ‘stimulates sleep continuity’ i.e. it helps baby sleep longer and better.  There are many benefits to a long-napping baby – the least of these is brain development, that primarily takes place when baby is asleep.

3. baby cry less

All babies cry regardless of how easily soothed they are, however, it’s reported that babies who are swaddled cry 28% less.  In fact, infants who are swaddled have more self-regulatory ability.

4. improve neuromuscular development

Many parents believe that babies should have their hands free, so they can practice arm movement and suck their fingers to soothe themselves.  However new research is to the contrary, suggesting pre-term infants show an improve of neuromuscular development, less physiological distress and better motor organisation when they are swaddled.

5. …. Because SIDS says so

In 2007, the Journal of Paediatrics did a meta-study of research into swaddling.  It was concluded that swaddling reduces the risk of SIDS.  It was noted that swaddling makes it difficult for new born babies to inadvertently cover their heads with bedding.  It was also revealed that swaddling decreases the baby’s ability to turn over on to her tummy; both of these have been linked to SIDS.

But, babies aren’t little for long, and we all still continue to need sleep!…

From the 4-6 month mark, consider the use of a sleeping bag.

When an infant is between 4-6 months of age, they start rolling.  Once a baby can roll, it’s time to swap that swaddle with a sleeping bag.

There are loads of these to choose from.  Here are some features you’ll need and ones you wont..

Choose a sleeping bag that IS:

1. Temperature regulating

These sleeping bags can be expensive articles.  You can choose one that determines warmth through a TOG factor or one that uses temperature controlling technology, check out your options. You’ll need at least two of them but choose ones that use breathable, washable fabric.

2. Of premium fabric

Gentle and hypoallergenic are two words you hear a lot in baby-land and they should be considered well.  There are specific standards for these premium fabrics and if you can find one that passes REACH SVHC safety tests, you’ve got a winner.  Check the tag!

3. Sleeveless

This will allow baby (who is now rolling) to make her appropriate movements in a safe way.  Make sure that both sleeve and head holes offer a good fit; this will negate baby  slipping down into the bag.

4. Accessible by zipper (only)

Use suits with reverse zippers, this will ensure baby’s skin doesn’t get caught at the neck.  A zipper located down the tummy acts as a reminder too about putting our babies onto their backs for safe sleep.


1. Decorated with toggles, buttons or appliqués of ANY KIND

Whilst ultra cute, these only increase the risk of a choking episode.  Don’t bother.

2. Made with a hoodie

Hoodies can get twisted with baby’s head movements and become a SIDS risk.  Hoodies also decrease air-flow and can put baby at risk of over-heating.  Hooded jackets are super cute, but keep them for outdoor play time. 

3. Made with velcro

There have been instances of babies getting the velcro caught on their mattress as they’ve moved around the cot; a zip is all you need.

Babies  need sleep and so does the whole family.  If you’re not wrapping or using a sleeping bag, give it a try.  The need for sleep isn’t going to change, but your baby’s ability to sleep long and well just might.

Sleepy hugs…

*NB. Wrapping a baby’s legs too tightly can cause problems with the normal growth and development of their hips, and has been linked to a condition called developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH).  Wrapping is perfectly safe if fabric around baby’s hips is loose so  baby can splay open her hips when she’s placed on her back.

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