Death From Swaddling

Can Swaddling Be Made Safer?

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


March 14, 2014

In This Article

Infant Deaths and Injuries Associated With Wearable Blankets, Swaddle Wraps, and Swaddling

McDonnell E, Moon RY
J Pediatr. 2014 Jan 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Rebirth of an Ancient Tradition

A tightly swaddled baby, asleep in a crib, paints a very peaceful picture. Swaddling, an ancient childcare practice used to keep babies content, warm, and asleep, is as popular as ever. Swaddling inhibits movement and calms fussy babies, making it easier to settle babies to sleep -- and keep them asleep -- in the supine position. Swaddling also obviates the need for blankets, which are unsafe in the sleeping environment of infants. Despite these benefits, swaddling has not been recommended as a strategy for the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS),[1] and the potential risks associated with swaddling have long been recognized.[2]

The simplest way to swaddle a baby is with a standard cotton blanket, but simple has been improved upon, naturally, by the upscale baby market. Parents can now purchase wearable blankets and swaddle wraps that make the swaddling process easier. A "wearable blanket" is a product made of soft fabric or fleece with openings for head and arms, and a zipper down the front. The bottom may or may not have leg openings. A "swaddle wrap" is a swaddling blanket with "pockets" for the infant's legs and arms and Velcro® to keep the arm panels in place when they are wrapped around the infant. Some products are a combination of a wearable blanket with Velcro panels to swaddle the infant's upper torso. Millions of such products have now been sold, but very little is known about whether they make the infant sleep environment more, or less, safe.


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