Living Well

Swaddling and SIDS

Louis Paul du Treil, M.D.
Swaddling and SIDS

What New Parents Should Know?

You may have heard the recent report that said swaddling babies may be linked with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If you have a little one on the way, these headlines may have alarmed you. After all, experts often tout swaddling as a way to help your baby sleep more soundly. So what’s a new parent to think?

What the Study Says?

Swaddling is defined in various ways, but it typically refers to wrapping a child snugly in a blanket or cloth, with head exposed but arms inside. Swaddling is thought to have a calming influence on babies that helps them sleep. However, with recent headlines, it’s important to better understand the findings of swaddling and SIDS in the journal of Pediatrics.

Researchers found that swaddling was associated with an increased risk for SIDS, but the risk went up when two factors were considered.

  • Sleeping position. The risk for SIDS was highest among infants sleeping on their stomach and side and lowest among those sleeping on their back. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to always place babies to sleep on their back, whether they’re swaddled or not.
  • Baby’s age. The risk for SIDS among swaddled infants increased as they got older. That’s likely due to the fact that older babies are able to roll from their back to their stomach. A good rule of thumb is to stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows that he or she is trying to roll over, about four months.

African American Woman holding infant child

What Else You Can Do?

Helping your child sleep well and making sure he or she is safe are your top priorities. These tips can help you and your little one catch some precious Zs while putting some of your worries to rest:

  • Always put your child to sleep on his or her back until 1 year of age, even if it’s a short nap. This sleep position is safest for newborns.
  • Make sure your baby’s crib meets all safety standards and has a firm sleep surface.
  • Keep your baby’s crib free of loose items — blankets, bumpers, toys, pillows, stuffed animals, sheets and more.
  • Offer your baby a pacifier at naps and bedtime, after breastfeeding is well established.
  • Make your home a smoke-free environment. Children exposed to cigarette smoke are more likely to die from SIDS.
  • Don’t sleep with your baby in your bed.
  • Prevent overheating — check that the room where your baby sleeps is a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid sharing a bed with your baby. If possible, place your child’s crib in the same room, so you can more easily tend to his or her needs.

You have many questions as a new or expecting parent, and Touro can help you prepare. Touro’s Family Birthing Center provides free classes including a childbirth education series, lactation, joyful parenting, sibling classes, happiest baby on the block, healthy mom and healthy baby, and more. Click here for a complete list of upcoming classes.

Louis Paul du Treil M.DLouis Paul du Treil, M.D. is Director of Maternal and Child Health at Touro Infirmary and a practicing OB/GYN with Crescent City Physicians, Inc. He earned his B.S. from Loyola University and attended the Louisiana State University School of Medicine. Dr. du Treil completed his OB/GYN internship and residency at the University of Florida Health Science Center in Jacksonville, Florida. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and cares for patients at his clinic Uptown on the campus of Touro Infirmary.