Swaddling a newborn, or wrapping baby snugly within a single cloth or blanket, has been common practice for thousands of years. Most everyone knows the biblical account of the Nativity, which says that Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes before placing him in the manger. What some parents and caregivers don’t know, however, is the risk of infant swaddling death and swaddling injury associated with swaddling wraps.
If your baby has been injured or killed in a swaddling blanket or wrap, you may be entitled to recover damages from the party or parties responsible. Child-injury lawyer Jeffrey Killino is dedicated to helping families obtain the compensation they deserve. Contact Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 to learn about your legal options.
Thankfully, reports of injury sudden unexpected death in swaddled infants are rare, but there are reports of increased risk of suffocation if the fabric used to swaddle a baby comes loose. And there is an increased risk of hip problems, such as hip dysplasia, because swaddling keeps the legs together and straight. Given these downsides, why do parents swaddle their babies?
One reason is that nurses in the newborn nursery swaddle babies, believing it calms their tiny charges; it makes them feel like they’re back in the womb. And they teach new mothers how to lay the blanket down and tuck the edges (like a burrito) so baby becomes a little “papoose”. Swaddling is known to particularly help babies with colic and neurological problems, and babies born addicted to drugs. And babies get used to sleeping on the backs this way, decreasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS (more below). Pediatricians say that, if done correctly, swaddling can promote deeper sleep, reduce fussiness, and help babies regulate their body temperatures, according to the Mayo Clinic. Swaddling can help keep babies comfortable, if suitable materials are used and rooms are kept between 68 and 72 degrees.
Some studies have found that swaddling risks outweigh the benefits. A study published in the journal Pediatrics reviewed 36 incidents involving wearable blankets and swaddle wraps, including ten deaths and two injuries. The infants who died involved wearable blankets and swaddle wraps.
Researchers determined that when swaddled babies were put on their sides or bellies, their risk of SIDS increased. For those put on their bellies, especially babies more than 6 months old, the risk doubled. Researchers also found that “Swaddled infants have fewer spontaneous arousals from sleep and increased sleep time, particularly during quiet sleep. Swaddling may also increase an infant’s risk for developmental dysplasia of the hip (especially if not applied well), hyperthermia, pneumonia, and upper respiratory tract infections.”
Nationally-recognized child injury attorney Jeffrey Killino has handled a wide variety of newborn injuries, including those arising out of injuries and deaths caused by incorrect swaddling by caregivers. Our experienced attorneys, paralegals, and investigators share the goal of helping injured families win the compensation they need and the justice they deserve. If your baby has been hurt or killed in a preventable accident caused by swaddling, call us today at 1-877-875-2927.
The CDC reports that 3,500 healthy children under one year of age die unexpectedly every year (also known as sudden unexpected infant deaths), with many deaths occurring during sleep. In 2017, nearly 900 babies died as a result of strangulation or suffocation.
Here’s what parents and caregivers should consider about swaddling:
- Always put your baby to sleep on his back. This is true no matter what, but is especially true if he is swaddled.
- Avoid loose blankets as these can move and cover the babies’ faces,
- Stop swaddling as your baby grows — probably around the time he or she shows signs of rolling or begins to break out of this fabric cocoon.
- Swaddling too tightly with the legs in a straight-down position can lead to hip dysplasia, or instability of the hip joint
To avoid the risk of hip problems, and ensure babies have some wiggle room around their hips and legs, pre-made swaddles that fasten with Velcro or a zipper may be easier to use for some parents. In many cases, these models help eliminate the guesswork by providing built-in space around the hips. Commercial “sleepsacks” should have a loose pouch or sack for the baby’s legs and feet, allowing plenty of hip movement. Make sure to use weather-appropriate swaddles.
According to Consumer Reports (October 2019) fatalities have been associated with in-bed sleepers such as the DockATot and Snuggle Nest, and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Infant sleep guidelines state that babies should sleep on their backs, alone, unrestrained, on a firm, flat surface, free of padding, bumpers, and other soft bedding.
To help prevent SIDS, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:
- Babies should always sleep on their backs.
- Always use a firm sleep surface.
- Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. No pillows, blankets or bumper pads.
- Do not let your baby get too hot.
- Place your baby to sleep in the same room where you sleep but not in the same bed.
- Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke.
- Breastfeed as much and for as long as you can.
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
- Schedule and go to all well-child visits.
- Do not use products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS, such as wedges, positioners or special mattresses.
- Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors to help reduce the risk of SIDS.
Lastly, babies don’t have to be swaddled. If your baby is happy without swaddling, don’t bother. “There’s a time to swaddle and a way to swaddle safely and a time to stop,” said Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician and author of the Baby 411 book series. “All good things must come to an end.” He recommends stopping at two months, but other experts advise from three to six months. At that point, the benefits of swaddling diminish as the startle reflex in newborns goes away, and potential risks such as flat head and plagiocephaly increase, Brown told CNN Health.
Parents should consult with their pediatricians to ensure the best methods and transitions for their children. Most importantly, avoid swaddling too loosely, too tightly, or for too long. Experts agree that swaddling dangers are mostly preventable if parents are informed.
Attorney Jeffrey Killino is not only an experienced lawyer — he is also a child advocate. When a baby swaddling injury or death occurs, he has the know-how and resources to guide you through the legal process to get what you and your family are entitled to. If your baby has been injured or died because of a caregiver’s negligence, Jeffrey Killino can help: Call today at 877-875-2927.