Morality: To Swaddle or NOT To Swaddle – That Is The Question! AKA Is Swaddling Child Abuse?

Morality: To Swaddle or NOT To Swaddle – That Is The Question! AKA Is Swaddling Child Abuse?

Editor writes...

The first time my attention was drawn to this practice of “swaddling”, some weeks ago, I was horrified.  Some babies are meekly accepting of the process but others, like the darling in the above video, battle against it, big time.  There is one video of a baby waking up alone and working hard to free him/herself from the swaddling straight jacket.  Very sad.

It wasn’t, though, until I read one comment from a person conducting research into the baby videos online because he/she thinks that many of the videos reveal cruelty to children, that I wondered if this swaddling, sometimes called “wrapping”, of babies doesn’t fall into that category – albeit unwitting cruelty. It’s obvious that the parents filming the process are trying to be helpful, and they obviously this this is a good thing for the child.  But, how many of us would like to be wrapped tightly like that at bedtime (or any other time), unable to move? Maybe mothers should be less inclined to listen to the “experts” and simply follow their own common-sense instincts.

As far as I can tell, this is an American custom – I’ve never heard of it, or seen it, in the UK but if you have, be sure to tell us.  And share your thoughts on the morality of swaddling. Is it a form of child abuse?

Comments (12)

  • Michaela

    I’d never heard of swaddling and I felt nothing but pity for that poor baby in the video. I can’t believe any mother would do that while it’s so obvious the baby doesn’t like it. I thought I’d check to see if it happens in the UK and found this page online, but I’ve never known of it here, never heard of it all my life.

    I definitely wouldn’t be using that myself, or recommending it. As for the morality of it, well, I suppose you could argue that, like a lot of things, the act itself is morally neutral (i.e. guns don’t kill, people do). So, unless a mother really intended harm for the baby, I don’t think it’s an immoral action.

    May 6, 2022 at 10:28 am
    • Margaret Mary

      I’d never heard of swaddling either but now that I do, I don’t like it, one bit. If those poor babies could only speak!

      May 6, 2022 at 1:58 pm
    • Laura


      I don’t really think your analogy with guns works, TBH. It is true that guns only cause injury and death when a human being deliberately pulls the trigger, but when a baby is swaddled tight by its mother or father that has to be a deliberate act too, and it is the act which makes something right or wrong, surely?

      May 6, 2022 at 4:10 pm
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        Just a wee thought maybe some Good Women in their 60s or 70s can remember the Grannies in their Area Holding and Cuddling Babies tightly in Shawls to protect them from the cold ,and that was indoors. I certainly can.
        Of course I can remember the Extra Duvets also being put on our Beds in Winter. Some would call them Old Army Coats but Duvet seems classier.
        I think 🤔.

        Am sure though that when some of these Babies grow up ( again if the World is not Blown to Bits ) they can always Blame Mum if they become Claustrophobic.

        May 6, 2022 at 5:26 pm
      • Nicky

        Faith of our Fathers,

        There’s a huge difference between cuddling a baby wrapped in a shawl indoors, and wrapping a child in a blanket with arms and legs immobilised, and putting them to sleep for the night. That’s a big difference, IMHO. I wrap myself up tight in my winter coat, and add a scarf and gloves, but not when I’m going to bed!

        BTW, some of us can remember our mam’s putting coats over us to add to whatever blankets we had, since central heating was not the thing then, but we still had our arms and legs free to move about if we needed to. I can’t see any justification for this swaddling craze. The baby in the video up top was clearly suffering. How any mother or father could ignore that, beats me.

        May 6, 2022 at 5:59 pm
  • Josephine

    I was astonished watching that video – it certainly seems to be only one thing that separates if from child abuse, and that’s the mother’s motivation. She obviously thinks she’s doing good to her child, and sure enough the child is bound to sleep, there’s not a lot of choice, after all, but it doesn’t seem right to me. I can’t imagine feeling I could do that to a wee baby. Maybe “immoral” is too strong a word but “misguided” – definitely, IMHO.

    May 6, 2022 at 12:20 pm
  • Nicky

    I don’t see this as a child abuse problem, more an “expert” problem. If everyone dealing with children, from mothers to doctors to teachers would just use their brains and stop relying on so-called experts in psychology, idiotic practices like swaddling wouldn’t happen.

    May 6, 2022 at 1:10 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    It all looks extremely uncomfortable to me. I agree, it’s really about the experts. As we have just lived through these past two years, people will do whatever anyone with the label “expert” says, without question. It’s amazing.

    May 6, 2022 at 1:56 pm
  • Michael 🙏

    Dear Editor and friends

    I’m astonished at the video and the complete and unnatural lack of parental awareness, sensitivity and common sense on the part of the parent.

    It’s quite bizarre and flies in the face of all one’s natural parental instincts. If this is deemed progress the reaction of the child would be sufficient to inform the parent that this is contrary to meeting the baby’s needs etc.

    Maybe it’s me and l am missing something here but l must confess if this is considered a positive parenting strategy then God help the children.

    It is certainly alien to me and my wife’s approach when our children were much younger.

    Every blessing

    Michael 🙏

    May 6, 2022 at 2:02 pm
    • Laura


      I am in total agreement with you about this – if this swaddling is considered “a positive parenting strategy”, then we’re stuck up the Clyde in a paddle boat!

      I’d stop short of calling it child abuse, just because the parents love their kids and are just mistaken in following this fashion, IMHO, but it’s another example of the way people are losing all ability to use their reason. Blindly following supposed experts is an unthinking way to live.

      BTW, I don’t believe this swaddling is centuries old, as they are trying to claim – I’ve never heard of it ever. The only time I’ve heard of “swaddling” was in the Gospel about the birth of Jesus and it was the angels telling the shepherds they would find the baby lying wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. We were told away back at primary school that swaddling clothes were just like bits of cloth, rags really, to keep him warm, not like a prison to stop him from moving.

      May 6, 2022 at 4:18 pm
  • Lily

    My goodness, that poor baby! I can’t really add to what others have said but I am shocked that any mother would be so insensitive to a baby’s vulnerability as to wrap him/her so tightly and leave them that way all night. That’s bound to be uncomfortable. It’s more “adult stupidity” than “child abuse”.

    May 6, 2022 at 7:53 pm
  • Frankier

    The first time I remember the word was at primary school when at Christmas the bible said that the Baby Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

    May 6, 2022 at 11:54 pm

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