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Your little bundle of joy

Nearly all cultures across the globe have learned to snuggle wrap baby in a blanket both to carry them and to help with sleep. Here's a step-by-step guide.
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On a recent Saturday, the phone rang and as I said hello, a very tired voice whispered, "I am looking for a postpartum doula." In the background I could hear a baby wailing. I asked her if everything was OK and she told me that her son Josh, who was three weeks old, had been crying for two and a half hours. I asked her if she thought he was sick, and she told me that the doctor had given her some drops for colic, but that Josh always cried that much before she could calm him down.

When I inquired how long he would sleep at each sitting, she said, "Sometimes he sleeps for one whole hour!" I told her I would come over right away, and we'd continue the interview in person. When I walked into her home I found a sweet, tired and disheveled woman with deep circles around her eyes, and a crying baby in her arms. My heart went out to her. I asked if I could hold the baby while we spoke.

Dana handed Josh to me, and as I settled on the couch, I swrapped him tightly into a little burrito, then shushed him and rocked him. He fell asleep within a few minutes. Mom was stunned. "How did you do that?" she asked. "Have you ever bundled him?" "No," she responded, "I thought that would be too confining. He likes to suck on his fist."

The practice of bundling babies and hiring wet nurses to take care of them was widely criticized in the 18th century. Together, with our Declaration of Independence, we began throwing away some of our early traditions including this ancient art of snugly wrapping your baby in a blanket for warmth and security. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggest that helps babies sleep better.

Parents would then be less likely to put small babies into the more risky stomach-sleeping position. Dr. Claudia Gerard, who led the research team said, "Now we have scientific evidence to support the age-old belief that bundled infants sleep better than unbundled ones." Dr. Harvey Karp, renowned pediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, tells us that the initial 12 weeks of a baby's life could be viewed as the "fourth trimester," meaning that human infants are born somewhat prematurely and need the reassurance of the warm womb, which is what makes this type of bundling imitates.

Baby bundling in five easy steps

  1. Lay a square, stretchy blanket on a flat surface in a diamond shape. Now fold down the top-right corner about 6 inches. Place your baby on his back with neck and shoulders on the fold.
  2. Pull the corner near your baby's right hand across his body, and tuck the leading edge under his back on the left side under the arm.
  3. Pull the bottom corner up over the baby's left shoulder, tucking the blanket (and his left arm) tightly in the left back.
  4. Bring the left side of the fold down right under the baby's chin and then pull the last corner all the way around the baby, tucking it in his left side.
  5. Basically, you have made a little love burrito! If this is too confusing, ask a doula, a grandma, a lactation consultant or a fellow mom to show you how it's done.
  6. After working with Dana and Josh for about one week, I witnessed a miracle. Mom had just come back from running errads. Josh, who was now sleeping three to four hours at night, was tightly bundled, checking out the world with open eyes. I handed him to Dana, and when mom and baby's eyes met, a wave of love erupted, enveloped and engulfed them. I left them resting, laying next to each other, lost in a magical embrace. Finally settled, they were able to discover one another.

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  • Rated 0 out of 5 by 46reviewers.
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I don't know why I find swaddling such a challenge but this was very helpful. Thanks! February 4, 2015
    Rated 0 out of 5 by Thanks for the great info. I think it will help a lot. Thanks again, much appreciated!!!! January 2, 2015
    Rated 0 out of 5 by swaddling my kids is the only way that I have been able to get them to sleep was to swaddle them. When we adopted our eldest we knew that she was going to be born drug exposed. Swaddling was especially important with her since she had such a difficult time calming down. September 23, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by Its the only way she likes to sleep! I'm glad it works for us. we've been getting 4.5 hrs of sleep in a row at night. I can't function on less than that! September 15, 2014
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