Oct. 8, 2013— -- To swaddle or not to swaddle, that is the question parents are asking all across America ever since a photo of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's baby North wrapped in swaddling clothes was posted on Instagram last week.
The debate for and against restraining a young child's arms with swaddling blankets has become a top topic on mom blogs and community boards.
"It is true that swaddling has become a new controversy in the parenting world," said Brandi Jordan, a board certified lactation consultant, pediatric sleep specialist and owner of the Cradle Company Parenting Center and Boutique in Los Angeles.
"However, I believe the points being debated are the wrong ones," said Jordan. "The focus is on whether or not you should swaddle, and it really should be when to swaddle."
Jordan said that newborns find comfort in the tight wrappings, as swaddling mimics the "snug environment babies experience for nine months in their mother's womb."
World Goes Ga-Ga at Glimpse of Royal Swaddle
Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and co-author of "Baby 411," agreed.
"Parents have been swaddling babies since civilization began, and we know that this is because it's soothing for babies," said Brown. But she did suggest that parents should read the guidelines and advice on how to swaddle safely from the American Academy of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeons found in a document called "Hip-Healthy Swaddling" published online.
"If you swaddle the babies hips incorrectly, it can contribute to hip dysplasia," Brown said. "But for the first two months of life, if you want to swaddle your baby, you can swaddle the chest area up tight and then make sure the area around the hips is looser. After two months, the baby does need to move around more. Otherwise, it could develop a flat head."
How to Get Your Baby to Stop Crying
Jordan also acknowledged that some parents can overdo it by keeping an infant swaddled all day, or continuing the practice after the newborn phase.
"It is important to ensure that your baby has lots of time during the day to explore the world and their bodies swaddle-free," she said. "Depending on what part of the country or world you live in, it is also important to be mindful of temperatures in and outside of your home, and to be diligent in ensuring that your infant is not in danger of overheating, which has been linked as a contributor to SIDS."
Dr. David Gellar, a Boston pediatrician who also counsels against wrapping babies too snugly, wrote on BabyCenter.com: "Don't wrap your newborn so tightly that it interferes with her breathing, and make sure not to cover her face with the blanket."