According to a parenting website swaddling (also called wrapping) involves snugly wrapping your baby in a blanket or cotton sheet for warmth and security. The desired effect of swaddling is to mimic your baby’s experience in the womb, by recreating the comfort and security of slight pressure around his body.
According to me, this clandestine skill is taught exclusively to new parents and only between five and fifteen minutes after the baby arrives. Prior to that, you’d be slaughtered just for the inquiry. Why? Well, for starters, the concept is so preposterous your friends would kill you upon the incredulous realization they’ve befriended an ignoramus. The reality? You can only learn this skill in the heat of survival. And that moment is immediately after the nurse has departed the recovery room for the evening and left you with a shrieking creature who sounds like it’s being tortured by all four horsemen of the apocalypse. You have no method of remedying that. Except, yep you guessed it – wrapping your baby up to impersonate a Carnitas burrito from Chipotle.
As the definition states, the goal of swaddling is to mimic the baby’s experience in the womb. The experience of the womb you say? Isn’t that why the baby left the womb in the first place? If it was that great of an experience it wouldn’t have eagerly jettisoned down the birth canal like settlers escaping religious persecution on the Oregon Trail. And slight pressure around its body? Why would a baby who just endured nine months of claustrophobic hell want to continue that once free from its gestational jail? That would be like miners stuck underground for months and after finally being rescued they wedge themselves between their bed frame and their dresser upon returning home.
Let’s talk brass tacks here. So you’re swaddling, thinking you’re somewhere between Elon Musk and Leonardo Da Vinci in terms of creative innovation. Are you really recreating the womb experience? Be honest with yourself. I hardly think a soft, stretchy cloth decorated in rainbow hippos exactly simulates smashing your baby’s face up against the lower intestine for nine months does it? If you really wanted that simulated, you’d disembowel a large game animal, then pack the organs and your bundle of joy snuggly into the crib together. Now that’s what I call a simulation. If you don’t live near the Serengeti, I assume any animal you find wandering around your neighborhood will do.
So what exactly are the benefits of swaddling other than to make your newborn feel like a tamale? Some think babies sleep better, scratch themselves less and cry more infrequently. But then there are those 23% of infants that had dreams about sour cream and guacamole doing inappropriate things to each other. Hard to ignore that stat.
We should call out the elephant in the room. Elephants. They don’t swaddle their young. They don’t. I’m telling you this now. Neither do humpback whales, pygmy marmosets, cheetahs, deer, porcupines, or coyotes. Sure, it is true that these aforementioned mammals lack the dexterity needed to pull off such a task but so do most human dads, yet it’s still occurring in households across the globe. One’s got to think that once humpbacks get wind of this, they’ll start wrapping their calves up in seaweed and the next anthropomorphic craze will evolve even beyond Jacques Cousteau’s wildest dreams.
Let’s just say that you’re still on board with this and want to do it right. So how exactly does one swaddle? Babycenter.com breaks it down step-by-step.
Step One: Start with a diamond Lay a receiving blanket on a flat surface, position it like a diamond, and fold down the top corner. Place your baby on his back with his neck on the fold.
Synopsis: You can also substitute any type of card group, so feel free to position the blanket like a spade, club, or heart if needed. Just make sure the blanket you’re using is a receiving blanket. You can have received it from afar, a fortnight ago, or from your aunt Penelope but just ensure you received it at some point.
Step Two: The right side tuck Hold your baby’s right arm down flat at its side. Pull the left corner of the blanket over its right arm and across its body, then tuck it under its left arm and roll your baby to your left to wrap whatever is remaining under its back.
Synopsis: What exactly are we to expect remaining under its back? Is it the last swig of bourbon and some beer pretzels you’ve been looking for? Or is it your previous life that remains- the one of freedom, sleep, and self-worth? The answer is yes.
The left side tuck Hold your baby’s left arm down and pull the bottom corner up over his left shoulder. Tuck any extra material around his left arm. Be sure to leave enough room at the bottom of the blanket for your baby to bend his legs up and out from his body.
Synopsis: You’re wrapping a human in a mini straight-jacket. What do you care if he’s able to bend his legs up and out from his body? Oh, now you’re going to worry about his experience being top notch?
The big finish Bring the loose right corner straight out, then pull it across your baby’s front and roll him to your right a bit so you can wrap the corner all the way around his back.
Synopsis: To test if you’ve done this correctly. Use something itchy – a feather, dry leaf, sandpaper, poison ivy, stinging jellyfish, etc. and lightly run it along your baby’s leg under the swaddle. If he can itch it you haven’t done it tight enough.
Good news is – you’re done. You hope. That is until the baby breaks free in nine minutes.
Items to practice on
Fully baked turkey
Subway meatball sandwich
Things most difficult to swaddle
Common house cat
Your uncle Jim
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (2nd reference)
Someone on fire
European man with extremely hairy back
Leftover Indian food
A clown without pants on
Look, if you’re a new parent and you pride yourself on creativity – by all means swaddle away. But do it with some innovation. Try wrapping your baby up in noodles for example. Spaghetti with marinara might be a good way to go. That way if he gets hungry and uncomfortable during the night, he can eat his way out of the swaddle. Win, win.
In conclusion, swaddling can be an effective tool. And in the time you wasted reading this nonsensical blog you could’ve swaddled your baby and every baby on your entire street, so what are you waiting for? Get swaddling!