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The impact of swaddling upon breastfeeding: A critical review

Dixley, Allison; Ball, Helen L.

The impact of swaddling upon breastfeeding: A critical review Thumbnail



Introduction Many parents swaddle their infants to promote sleep and reduce night-waking, however lack of definitive evidence about the pros and cons of swaddling when breastfeeding hinders postnatal recommendations regarding this infant care practice. This review critically examines research conducted on the impact of swaddling upon breastfeeding. Methods Only two recent studies on swaddling outcomes have reported infant feed-type, therefore the purpose of this paper is to consider the known effects of swaddling on breastfeeding babies and their mothers. We interpret the existing literature on swaddling in terms of impact on breastfeeding physiology and behaviour during the immediate post-natal period, and as infancy progresses. Results Infants swaddled immediately after birth show a delay in initial breastfeeding, less successful suckling at the breast, reduced intake of breastmilk and greater weight loss compared to un-swaddled babies. Swaddling visually obscures feeding cues and reduces crying, thereby eliminating two key feeding prompts typically used by parents/carers. Conclusions As swaddled babies cry less, and are fed less frequently than un-swaddled babies some clinical trials position swaddling as a ‘novel weight regulation tool’ to combat obesity. However, in the case of breastfed babies, by reducing feed frequency swaddling may impede maternal milk production and thereby infant growth.


Dixley, A., & Ball, H. L. (2023). The impact of swaddling upon breastfeeding: A critical review. American Journal of Human Biology, 35(6), Article e23878.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jan 25, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 14, 2023
Publication Date 2023-06
Deposit Date Feb 15, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 2, 2023
Journal American Journal of Human Biology
Print ISSN 1042-0533
Electronic ISSN 1520-6300
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 6
Article Number e23878
Public URL


Published Journal Article (943 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2023 The Authors. American Journal of Human Biology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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