After a recent suggestion that swaddling may hurt babies, a Calgary pediatrician says new parents should do their research.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario has raised concerns that swaddling may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

"We've always been told to swaddle, so like my son's who's two-and-a-half, we were told swaddling was the safest thing," said Tanis Larson as she held her six-week-old baby Cruz.

"So it comes as a shock to me to hear that."

Retired Calgary public health nurse Helen Tindale, who was part of the expert panel that came up with the new guidelines, says there are specific risks associated with swaddling.


Being a new parent is a stressful job, but when you add in a list of ever-changing parenting rules it can be downright agonizing. (

"The recommendation is to put your baby in a crib, cradle or basinet next to the parents' bed and the only thing in the crib, cradle or basinet would be the fitted sheet and no blanket," she said.

"The problem with a swaddle is that the swaddling blanket can come lose, can cover the baby's head and having the head covered has been associated with sudden infant death syndrome and possibly also increasing the body temperature."

However, Dr. Peter Neiman is urging parents to listen to their instincts and think carefully about any decision.

"I prefer a balanced approach," he said. "As much as I respect all these different experts and the basis for what they recommend, nothing beats a mother's instinct."

Neiman says new parents agonize over everything from using soothers to introducing solid food.

He says rules and recommendations for things like swaddling tend to come and go so parents should talk to their doctors, do research and use common sense.