• Deana Rosaia

Top 3 Uses for Swaddle Blankets to Support Baby Milestones in the 4th Trimester

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

They come in all colors & fabrics. It is a rite of passage to receive at least 17 for the birth of our first baby. There is something so maternal about buying a swaddle blanket for babies. Softer then any other fabric on this blissful earth, you undoubtedly have one in particular, that is your favorite.

For me? Aden + Anais organic bamboo swaddle blanket with lovely blue & orange feathers. It was one of the few things I registered for that I felt was a luxury vs practical. I loved it from the first moment I wrapped up my first born for our newborn photos - fast forward 3 years and it made the short list for round two of new born photos. Turns out just yesterday I used it to wipe banana from my daughters hands. Anyone else? Just me?

It has been washed at least weekly over the last 4 years. The magic? It does nothing but get softer, more amazing and will be one of the few 'baby things' I will hold so dearly in my heart as my littles grow.

I have spoken to so many mammas who have a special connection to these sweet blankets. When working with families for both pediatric physical therapy and pediatric wellness, I am always looking for new uses for the everyday items we have laying around. Enter, swaddle blankets.

So, without further delay Here are my top 3 favorite uses for swaddle blankets to support your babies motor development in the first few months.

Tummy Time Roll

As Littles move from 1-2 months their muscles are stretching out and tummy time becomes a much more demanding position as the expectations rise for them to start really lifting their heads. Babies begin moving their elbows forward and instead of their weight being forward on their face, they learn to transfer weight to their forearms. It is this transfer of responsibility to push through their arms that makes lifting their head much more successful. But, it is still REALLY hard. Littles will often become frustrated and cry quickly as they figure out how to use their arms to support this massive skill.

Most babies will revert to tucking their elbows and arms further behind them, putting the weight back on their face and making head lifting nearly impossible to sustain. We can use our hands to help reposition our babies arms, OR we can use some support.

Many momma's ask me if I recommend using a nursing "boppy" pillow or a "tummy time" pillow. And 99% of the time, the answer is no. These are TOO big and babies end up either sinking down into them (push ups on a bean bag) or their arms are floating mid air, thus learning nothing about transferring weight to their arms to push!

Insert swaddle roll! Place the roll under their chest and arm pits to keep their elbows positioned nicely under their shoulders and watch your baby rock tummy time!

Booty Roll

During this same magical period of tummy time advancement, your littles are going to be working hard to up their 6 pack abs game and get those feet kicking. Every kick builds on the abdominal strength they need to start the rolling process from back to sides. By 2 months you are going to notice your littles pelvis & hips start to curl up off the floor as those legs come really high into the air. This "C" curve of the back, with a wicked deep abdominal contraction is the secret sauce to rolling.

How can we kick start & encourage this vital position? A swaddle booty roll will help tilt your babies pelvis in the right direction allowing for easier abdominal engagement. The end result will be flying little piggies as those abs develop. Next step? Rolling!

Side Lying Roll

The magic of those early months continues and side lying is the forgotten baby skill that is so often overlooked. Everything these days is so focused on Tummy Time & Back To Sleep {Don't get me wrong, those are CRAZY important} but side lying is my jam.

For some moms {I speak for myself} I found those early months of feeding, rocking, soothing, pumping to be a bit mind numbing. Magical, but mind numbing. I found myself looking for 'new things' to mix it up and give me another 5 minutes of activity to fill my day. This is exactly why side lying is so great. Babies usually love it {if they don't we need to work on it, so hit me up in the comments} and they learn so many amazing skills!

The kicking I mentioned above, WAY easier in side lying + opportunities to kick in the oblique muscles as they work on a bit of rotation! Learning to reach? Yes please! They do not have to fight gravity in those early 2-3 months learning to swipe and grasp toys. Head shaping?! YES! Lets get the pressure OFF the back of their head to keep things nice and round.

Grab your swaddle roll, throw it behind your baby from shoulders to pelvis and make sure those hips are rolled slightly forward to allow for balance and early stability. Add a mirror, light weight toy, or high contrast picture and you are in business.

Thank you for following along! As always, these activities should always be during awake, supervised times! If you have any questions or concerns regarding your Little's development please drop a comment below or reach out to me privately!

Cheers beautiful Mommas

#tummytime #swaddle #swaddleblanket

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