Mimic the Womb EnvironmentSeptember 9, 2010 10:38 am Baby behaviour, Sleep and Settling
Your newborn will need time and support to make a smooth transition from being warm and secure inside the womb to feeling comfortable and secure in the outside world. By mimicking the womb environment for a period of time most babies find this transition a lot easier.
Babies born prematurely will often need to go the extra step of sleeping in a sling next to your body for extended periods of time until they reach their original due date.
The womb can be mimicked in the following ways:
- Warm and snug in the womb becomes swaddling (see below)and cuddling up close out of the womb
- Rhythmical movements from activity that are felt while inside the womb become rocking and swaying outside the womb
- Internal womb noises of the placenta, heartbeat and bowel sounds become humming, ‘white noise’, shhhing, singing, and holding them close to your heart beat outside the womb
- Leave environmental noises as usual. You do not need to tip toe about and whisper
- If you have been busy working or physically working out with exercise up until just before your baby was born you may find your baby needs more noise and activity to settle during the times when you had been active. You can slowly wean them off this.
It is important to keep your baby secure and snug as they settle to sleep. Swaddling is an age-old practice of wrapping babies snugly in breathable material, blankets or similar cloth so that movement of the limbs is restricted.
A baby is born with a startle reflex which may cause them to wake during their lighter phases of sleep. Swaddling prevents this reflex occurring allowing them to learn to sleep for longer periods.
If you watched this video you will see that I swaddle with a baby’s arms resting up on their chest rather than straight down by their side. This is a natural position which allows your baby to touch their face with slight movements while keeping their arms secure inside the wrap. You will be told many ways and alternative suggestions on how to swaddle as well as finding many types of wraps to choose from. What you choose is up to you (and how well a product has been marketed) but the main tips I recommend to help your baby sleep well using a wrap are:
· Keep them tight and secure with arms in even if they at first protest
· Use a natural breathable fabric
· Allow for slight arm movement within the wrap
· At around three months old your baby’s startle reflex will be gone and they will start to purposefully put their fingers or fist in their mouth and suck for comfort. After your baby has been doing this for a week or so, try to swaddle them leaving one arm out for a few days. If they are settling ok like this, take their second arm out. If your baby does not settle well with their arm or arms out, there is no problem continuing to leave them in until they are ready to settle and sleep with less wrapping. Some babies prefer to have the wrap slightly loosened instead, allowing them to get their own arms out as they settle to sleep.
· At around six to nine months old, depending on your baby and where you live, can be a good time to change from using a swaddle. Instead use a sleeping bag or simply tuck them in with a firm sheet. When you do remove the swaddle it is important to establish a new sleep cue or you may find your baby will fight going to sleep. Remember to give them a few days to recognise their new sleep cue.
This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children. For more online resources visit http://www.settlepetal.com