There is a battle brewing about a staple in parents' baby-care arsenals: swaddling.
This postpartum survival guide culls our favorite experts' tried-and-true tips about how to make the best of this challenging rite of passage.
Here's what you'll need to know:
At the hospital, your baby is examined by the pediatrician, who will explain to you any obvious curiosities (for example, birthmarks or a pointy head shape).
After you get home, however, your baby may produce some unexpected sights and sounds; most are normal.
Here’s the good news: Ever since the 1994 launch of the Back to Sleep campaign, which instructs parents to put infants to sleep on their backs, the number of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) cases has decreased by more than 50 percent. The bad news is that SIDS is still the leading cause of death in babies ages 1 month to 12 months, with more than 2,300 U.S. infants dying from SIDS every year.
A new study says it’s OK to let your baby cry it out so they’ll learn to sleep through the night. After much debate about whether this particular sleep training technique causes children any long-term psychological harm, scientists tracked a group of kids up to age six and determined that, “nope…they’ll be just fine.” On the one hand, I’m very glad to hear that, because one of my daughters was an all-nighter who couldn’t sleep without lots of help and eventually, a couple days of cry-it-out-sleep training.
This week’s news about infant sleep training reminded me of my own sleep-deprived first year as a mom. My son was not a great sleeper. In fact, he was a terrible sleeper. I had heard from friends that the first few months were going to be rough, but the same people said, “But don’t worry, by three months he’ll sleep through the night.” Well, three months came and went and then four and then five.
The next time you need to schedule a vaccination for your baby, opt for an afternoon appointment. A new study found that infants slept more during the next 24 hours if they got their shots later in the day—and a long, sound sleep is believed to boost a vaccine's effectiveness.
This month I attended an event celebrating the release of the latest book from pediatrician Harvey Karp, M.D., The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions For Kids From Birth to 5 Years. If you’re not already familiar with Karp, you should be.
If getting your baby to sleep is a singing, rocking and jiggling process that’s exhausting the whole family, you may want to consider sleep training. “The process involves teaching your baby a new way of going to sleep, usually from being rocked or fed to sleep to falling asleep in her crib,” says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Sleep Deprived No More (Da Capo Press).
Swaddling your newborn may help her wake less at night, sleep longer and calm her crying, but improper technique could have an unintended side effect: hip dysplasia, or problems with the hip joint, according to some pediatric orthopedists. Seventeen percent of newborns have some degree of “immaturity” of their hips, studies show, which usually resolves on its own in the first few months of life. While this happens to coincide with prime swaddling time, it’s safe to wrap your baby as long as the hips can move and bend, experts agree.