Before I had my first child, I’ll admit I was slightly intimidated by the concept of swaddling. Newborns always look so cozy when wrapped snugly in a nice soft blanket – but would I ever be able to master the wrapping technique affectionately known as the “baby burrito”? And how is it even possible to wrap a wriggly baby so neatly?
Well, I soon learned that it’s not only possible, but the tradition goes back as far as human history itself, and babies love it. For generations, mothers have recreated the secure and cozy feeling of being in the womb by swaddling and, more recently, scientific evidence has proven that babies who are swaddled sleep more peacefully because being wrapped snugly prevents spontaneous body movements from waking them up during the night.
In 2002, the Journal of Applied Physiology wrote that swaddled infants stay in REM sleep (the most restorative, deepest sleep) longer than those who were not. And there is growing evidence that swaddling may indirectly help prevent SIDS as well.
Once I mastered the swaddling technique (it’s pretty easy actually), I also learned that using a pure cotton muslin blanket is a great choice for baby wrapping – and this was something that seemed second-nature to Australian mothers, but I’d never seen muslin blankets in Canada, where I grew up.
Muslin is finely woven and breathable, making it ideal for swaddling because it has a natural “give” that allows the blanket to be tucked snugly around a baby without being restrictive, and it allows air to circulate around the baby’s body so you don’t have to worry that they’ll overheat in moderate weather. Cotton muslin is also a workhorse fabric – so the natural fibre not only stands up to repeated washings, it becomes softer – and better – with age.
All these reasons were motivation enough for one Aussie mother to start her own company, Aden + Anais, when she moved to America and couldn’t find muslin blankets. Raegan Moya-Jones designed the now-famous muslin swaddle blankets large enough to be useful not only for swaddling, but for stroller covers, nursing shields, tummy time blankets and burping cloths.
If the photo collection on her website is any indication, Aden + Anais blankets also seem to be the item of choice when celebrity moms want to shield their babies from the lenses of paparazzi cameras.
Closer to home, Aden + Anais has launched a new line of organic muslin blankets that I’m proud to offer at Itty Bitty Greenie. Not only do they come in some gorgeous prints, but each blanket has its own matching muslin bag, so there is no need for additional plastic packaging or tags. That’s what I call eco-fabulous – Check out the full range here.