To Swaddle or Not

Most newborns are swaddled (dibedong). Very rarely we see them ‘hang loose’. I didn’t really understand the need for swaddling when I had Tasha six years ago other than to ‘straighten’ her legs. Now, as superstitious (read: kuno) as that sounds, how many of you swaddle your babies for this particular reason? I guess it makes a bit of sense, I mean, newborns DO have crooked legs for being cramped in the womb for the last 40 odd weeks. So straightening their legs and wrapping them tightly should do the trick.

But really, would babies who are not swaddled end up walking with bent, O-shaped legs as adults? I guess the only sure-fire way to find out is to conduct a simple study -gather as many people who walk funny as possible and ask them whether or not they were swaddled when they were babies. Obviously, this is no easy task as (1) these people won’t even know or remember, and (2) it’d be extremely offensive to ask them that especially if they don’t realize that they walk funny. A cheaper and more practical way to knowing the truth would be to read about it from those who are scientifically knowledgeable on the matter.

Thanks to the internet, I googled this issue and found out that hey, surprise, surprise, swaddling babies to make their legs straight is just a myth. In fact, some experts claim that we shouldn’t swaddle babies for too long as this may affect their hip development or motoring skills. I should’ve seen that coming, but being the traditional (and slightly chicken) me, I simply swallowed and followed what my elders tell me ‘coz they seem to have the wisdom (right?).

Thing is, although leg straightening is utter rubbish, there are other benefits to swaddling. For one, it helps babies to calm down if they’re having trouble sleeping or experiencing colic. Have you noticed that for really small babies, even with the slightest sound or movement, they will startle in their sleep? Some babies can go back to sleep easily while others may end up crying for hours. I guess this is mother nature’s way of telling us the bond between mom and child begins right from the womb. A snug swaddle may resemble the warmth these babies feel when in their mommies’ wombs, so it sort of coax them to go back to sleep should they be startled. Another benefit of swaddling is that it eases breastfeeding, ‘cos hey, who wants to feed babies’ with their arms flailing about?

So why am I talking about this topic today?

I used to swaddle Rayyan for about 3 weeks but not anymore and to be honest, I’m feeling pretty bad about it. It’s not that I purposely do not want to swaddle him, it’s just that even when swaddled, his legs tend to curl inwards i.e. not straight, so what’s the point? And he’s such a good baby -not being difficult or colicky (crossing fingers this is a permanent thing!) that I didn’t want to subject him to the common practice unnecessarily. In fact, he can sleep quite soundly even when ‘hang loose’, other than to cry for food or nappy change. So why am I feeling bad? Don’t know lah.. Maybe it’s because  I’m a traditional chicken. Traditional as in I tend to follow customs and the ‘usual’ practices and chicken ‘cos I feel takut-takut, like, what if I don’t do it and then the baby turns out unwell etc. Hubby on the other hand is not superstitious and doesn’t like to be too rigid in following these practices. Guess that makes him a good balance for me. I do need him around to be more unconventional and not feel too bad when not doing what others find common. While I don’t know for sure what I’m doing is ideal or not, I’m beginning to embrace the thought that so long as the baby’s happy (happy babies don’t cry, right?) and healthy (this one I gotta confirm with his doctor in 3 weeks), it should be no big deal.

Still, I do have that urge to tuck him in the blanket, kinda like a semi swaddle from time to time..


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