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The first step in Karp’s calming process is swaddling. Karp points out that swaddling itself does not calm your baby. It is the first step in order to prepare your baby for what you will do next (page 108).
In Chapter 8, Karp discusses common worries parents have when it comes to swaddling. One of those is that baby will become dependent on it. He says that by four months, the baby won’t need to be swaddled anymore (page 112). For us, swaddling Kaitlyn was something she was done with around three-four months old. It wasn’t hard to stop the swaddle at this time, and she actually slept better once we stopped (though I believe it did help her sleep better when she was younger).
Another concern is that swaddling prevents baby from being able to reach her hands. Karp says your baby doesn’t have the ability to do this until three-four months old (page 113). Kaitlyn wanted one hand out at a rather young age (I think somewhere around 4-6 weeks), and it was so she could suck those fingers. He does say it is fine to leave a hand out if your baby is happy that way (page 112).
Karp has a method for swaddling that he calls the DUDU wrap. It is an acronym for Down-up-down-up. To do this, you need a square blanket. Chapter 8 is full of diagrams illustrating the wrap, but if this is something that is of interest to you, I would again suggest the DVD might be the better option.
Karp lists things that can interfere with the success of a swaddle (pages 118-119):
- Swaddling too loosely
- Swaddling with bent arms
- Letting the blanket touch baby’s cheek
- Allowing finished swaddle to pop back open
Karp then has 13 questions that he commonly gets about swaddling (pages 120-122). Here are some points I found of interest:
- Calm babies might not need to be swaddled at all (page 120)
- You can start swaddling any time during the first three months (page 120)
- Karp suggests at two-three months you try swaddling with one arm out. If she gets fussier, continue wrapping for a few weeks. If she stays happy, she doesn’t need it anymore. Kaitlyn, however, was ready for one arm out long before she was ready for both. Karp says most babies are ready to be weaned by three-four months, though some like to be swaddled up to a year old.
- To determine if your baby is too hot, “…feel her ears and fingers. If they’re hot, red, and sweaty, she’s overwrapped. However, if they’re only slightly warm and she’s not sweaty, her temperature is probably perfect” (page 122).