Back in fashion: Demand for "swaddling clothes" up 61% as mothers returned to old-fashioned practice

Back in fashion: Demand for “swaddling clothes” up 61% as mothers returned to old-fashioned practice

For years, it was thought wrapping a baby tightly in cloth would stop its “self-expression” and hinder it from learning how to control its movements.

But now the practice, as old as The Nativity, has come back into fashion for the first time in over 50 years, new figures have revealed.

Some experts now believe that wrapping the infant mimics the slight pressure felt during its time in the womb, creating an increased feeling of security.

Baby wrapped in a towel lying on the floor

All wrapped up: The trend has become so great that a retail chain created a separate section for swaddling clothes on its website

So great is the trend that demand for swaddling clothes has soared by over 61 per cent in the last year alone, research has revealed.

Swaddling is the age-old practice of wrapping new born babies tightly in a cloth, so that their movements are restricted.

It virtually disappeared entirely by the mid 1960s as new theories in baby development took hold.

It has also been deemed potentially harmful as a 2009 study published in the British Medical Journal found one in four babies who died of cot death had been swaddled.


Swaddling is though to help babies remain on their backs, a position which cuts cot death risk

It is thought to make a baby feel more secure, limiting the potential for it to be startled and move in its sleep

Swaddling can help babies sleep more deeply

Swaddling is thought to mimic the feeling of being in the womb

It can promote neuromuscular development


When swaddling is not done properly, infants may become overheated, leading to increased risk of cot death

Swaddling your baby too loosely can cause them to move free of the wrap and potentially suffocate in loose blankets

Swaddling too tightly increases the danger of inhibited breathing

Studies have shown Studies show swaddling your baby too tightly may cause bowing of children”s bones

However as cot death is a rare occurrence, the sample used for the study was small and the risk was branded “unreliable” by the NHS.

In 2005, U.S. scientists proved that swaddling helps babies sleep more deeply and demand for swaddling clothes suddenly began to rise once more two years ago.

Records of swaddling go back as far as 4000 BC, to the times of the Romans and Ancient Greeks.

Swaddling in Britain began to fall out of favour in the late 1950s with more mothers being encouraged to chose free moving clothes such as baby grows instead.

Now the trend is so great that Debenhamshas become the first major retail chain to create a separate section for swaddling clothes on its website.


Use a cot sheet or a special swaddle blanket

Don”t cover your baby”s face with the sheet, since that could cause him to overheat or suffocate

Beware of overheating your baby; the aim is to make him feel secure rather than keep him warm

Don”t use a blanket for this, and make sure you don”t wrap your baby too tightly, or his circulation could be cut off

You should stop swaddling your baby once he is about a month old, because after that it can interfere with mobility and development

When your baby begins to kick off the covers, it”s a sign he no longer appreciates being bundled snugly

Avoid placing your swaddled baby on a sofa or bed, because your baby may roll and fall

Source: Baby Centre

It contains a wide selection of blankets and other wraps which can be used to swaddle as well as to keep new born babies warm.

Modern research into swaddling suggests that it may encourage new born babies to sleep more soundly.

However others disagree favouring non restrictive garments and blankets to encourage infants to develop motor skills from an early age.

A spokesperson for Debenhams said: “We’re seeing a return to traditional values.

“Customers who would once have dismissed practices as “old fashioned” are now re-examining them precisely because they are old.”

“While modern research praising swaddling is certainly fuelling the new demand, we also believe that it may, in part, be a reaction to the recession and a desire to return to more settled times.”

While recognising that many mothers now love to swaddle their new born baby, the Royal College of Midwives has also warned against doing so too tightly for fear of overheating the newborn infant.

However, done properly it is perfectly safe, and may create a feeling of increased security.