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There seems to be lots of concern about swaddling and the increased risk of SIDS

There is no evidence that swaddling increases the risk of SIDS if babies sleep on their backs or sides.

A study from Tasmania did suggest that swaddling MIGHT be one factor which increased the risk of prone sleeping (sleeping on the stomach). However, there are a number of other infant sleeping practices in Tasmania which are rare in the U.S., such as sleeping on thick wool, sheepskin, taro root mattresses, etc., which might also increase the risk. The study suggested that other factors, such as a heater in the room and a recent respiratory infection, were also necessary to increase the SIDS risk.

Like other things, such as sleeping position, swaddling by itself is not sufficient to have caused a baby to die from SIDS. None of your babies died because they were swaddled (if they were). Our current concept of SIDS is that it is a multi-factorial problem, and that many things must come together to cause a baby to die.

This having been said, if the question is how can one safely swaddle a baby: the best answer is that babies can be swaddled if they sleep on their backs. The next best choice would be on a firm mattress without padding under the baby.

Thomas G. Keens, M.D.
Childrens Hospital Los Angeles

Reprinted with permission

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