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For thousands of years, swaddling babies was a common practice in infant care. Historians believe swaddling began in Central Asia in 4000 BC, eventually spreading to the Western world. Swaddling techniques were much more restrictive back then: caretakers completely immobilized babies by wrapping them tightly in strips of cloth. During the 18th century, parents stopped swaddling, but the practice surged in popularity again during the 20th and 21st centuries. Today, there are specific dos and don’ts when it comes to swaddling, but when done correctly, it can be an effective and soothing technique for infants.

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1. What is Swaddling?

Research shows that birth and labor cause the production of fetal stress hormones in newborns. Although these hormones help the infant adapt to their new life outside the womb, midwives or nurses may swaddle a newborn to comfort them. Wrapping babies snugly from the neck down in a blanket, with only their head exposed, makes them feel cozy and warm like they are back inside the womb. Studies show the practice improves quality of sleep for babies with colic, those born with drug addictions, or those who have neurological issues. There are a few methods of swaddling and two conventional types: diamond and square. You'll find the steps for these methods at the end of this article.

hormones fetal stress swaddling sdominick / Getty Images
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