Swaddling and SIDS

Millions of babies are wrapped, so if swaddling causes SIDS, you would expect hundreds of swaddle-related infant sleep deaths each year. But a study from 2004 to 2012 found fewer than 2 sleep deaths per year among swaddled babies. And most victims were stomach sleeping or had unsafe, bulky bedding. The authors noted that “reports of sudden unexpected death in swaddled infants are very rare.”

Swaddling Can Assist in Reducing SIDS and Suffocation Risk

This extremely low cot death rate suggests that wrapping may actually help prevent SIDS and suffocation. Australian healthcare professionals also found that swaddled babies (sleeping on the back) were 1/3 less likely to die from SIDS, and a New Zealand study found a similar benefit.

Another recent 8-year study reported on deaths related to sofa sleeping. Babies were brought to the couch because of crying or for feeding…and then the mum or dad fell asleep. Most of these 1,024 fatalities were in babies under 3 months old. Many of these parents would not have fallen asleep in that dangerous location had they used swaddling to keep their babies sleeping longer.

How Can Swaddling Reduce SIDS?

Here are 4 final strands of evidence that point to wrapping as a way to assist in preventing SIDS and suffocation:

1. Swaddling Can Help Prevent Rolling

Swaddling makes it hard for babies to flip over. That is important because SIDS risk jumps 8-45 times for babies who routinely sleep on their backs, but accidentally roll! 2. Swaddling Reduces Unsafe Sleeping

By reducing crying, swaddling lessens a parent’s temptation to put her baby to sleep on the stomach. It also may reduce her temptation to bring the baby into her bed. If you were wondering if it is safe for a baby to sleep in a swaddle, then the answer is yes, as long as you follow the NHS guidelines for swaddling your baby. Click here to read our article “when to stop swaddling.”

3. Swaddling Reduces Cigarette Smoking

Infant crying can push a mom to restart smoking, which raises the SIDS risk.

4. Swaddling Can Help Improve Breastfeeding

Nursing reduces cot death risk by up to 50%. Swaddling can improve nursing by reducing the crying and exhaustion that leads some women to abandon nursing (because of depression or doubts about the adequacy of their milk.)

Final Thoughts: Swaddling and SIDS

Cot death is an ongoing concern for new parents everywhere. Make sure to read the NHS advice on SIDS prevention.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.