Yes, you should unswaddle your baby during night feedings. Research shows that babies need their hands and arms to nurse because they actively use their hands to locate the nipple, promote milk letdown, latch properly, as well as allow you to notice their hunger cues when their hands go towards their mouths.
Babies love to be swaddled as it replicates the cozy feeling of the womb, and it is tempting to feed her while she is swaddled because it helps them relax and fall right back to sleep.
Isn’t that all we mamas out here want?
While it might seem like a good idea to want your baby to go back to sleep after feeding, most experts recommend that you don’t swaddle your baby while feeding for several reasons.
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Should you take the baby out of the swaddle for dream feeding?
Yes. It’s essential to unswaddle your baby for night feedings because it is not comfortable and easy for them as they use their arms and hands while breastfeeding, just as it would be uncomfortable for you to eat with your hands tied behind your back.
Another important reason you should unswaddle your little one is that it allows you to quickly notice her hunger cues when she keeps throwing her hands towards her mouth.
Babies bring their hands towards their mouths, and they tend to tightly close their fists when they are hungry.
It’s easy to miss those cues when their hands are covered.
But the most important reason to avoid feeding your tiny person while swaddled is that she will get too cozy, and as soon as the milk hits her belly, she might start to doze off and go to sleep.
Babies need to have a complete feeding to encourage proper milk supply and optimal growth by feeding on the fat-loaded hindmilk.
Taking away the swaddle during night feedings keeps your baby stimulated and awake
Swaddling do’s and don’ts
Parents should learn about safe swaddling at wellness visits with the doctor as it provides central containment for babies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that when done correctly, swaddling can calm infants and lead to better sleep for babies with less struggle from parents.
Swaddling has also been proven to help provide a sense of safety for your baby, reduce pains and aches, and assist when babies feel overstimulated.
Still, the best argument in favor of swaddling is that it has been proven to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by 33% less than unwrapped back sleeping babies.
How to swaddle your baby properly
- Spread the blanket out flat with one corner point folded down
- Lay your baby face-up on the blanket with her head above the folded point.
- Straighten her left arm and gently pull the left corner point of the blanket and wrap it in between her right arm and the right side of her body.
- Repeat the same process as above on the right arm and the right side of her body.
- Fold or twist the blanket at the bottom loosely and tuck it under your baby.
- Make sure that the blanket is not too tight and that her hips can move. There must be space to get at least three of your fingers between the baby’s chest and the swaddle.
- Follow the Safe to Sleep Guidelines that state that all babies should be placed to sleep on their backs to promote the reduction of SIDS.
- All babies should be monitored after swaddling to ensure that they do not rollover. It is recommended to monitor your baby’s movement cues and continue to swaddle up until 2-3 months so that they don’t accidentally rollover.
- Monitor the little one’s arousal state. Young ones who are swaddled tend to have longer sleep periods but reduced baby activity can mean there may be a problem.
- Never place down a swaddled baby on their tummy.
- Don’t swaddle the baby too tightly. Babies may develop hip problems if they are swaddled too tightly.
- Don’t leave loose blankets and toys in the baby’s bed.
- Don’t cover the baby’s face while swaddling to avoid suffocation and overheating.
Should I swaddle my baby before or after night feedings?
The best time to swaddle that little one is after a feeding.
Babies, especially breastfed babies, can’t eat well while swaddled. After they are done feeding, put them in fresh diapers and swaddle.
Should I wake up the baby for night feedings?
This depends on your baby.
Some babies sleep better if they wake up for the dream feed, while others sleep better if they don’t wake up.
Just keep notes and monitor what works better for your baby because you want to get a full feeding in, but whether she wakes up or not is completely up to her.
What if the baby gets out of the swaddle?
If you find your baby was able to break out of the swaddle and wiggle an arm out, or they completely unwrapped the swaddle during their sleep, then it is no longer safe for them to be swaddled as it creates loose fabric in their crib, increasing the risk of SIDS.
It’s good for babies to learn the difference between daytime and nighttime. Swaddling and feeding don’t go hand in hand.
When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, take them out of the swaddle and feed them, making sure to burp them well.
When they seem nearly finished, change their diaper and put them back in the swaddle. Whether breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, feeding your baby in a swaddle is not recommended.
It causes your baby to doze off quickly without having their fill and will soon wake up time and again.
The best news is that as they grow, babies need fewer night feeds.
By the time they hit the 4th-month milestones, they will need about 1-3 night feeds only, and this drops to one or two-night feedings when they reach 6 months, provided that they are feeding well during the day.