Objective: To test the hypothesis that swaddling is an effective method to reduce crying, we compared a standardized approach of regularity and stimulus reduction with the same approach supplemented with swaddling.
Study design: Healthcare nurses coached 398 excessively crying infants up to 12 weeks of age for 3 months. Outcome measurements were crying as measured by Barr's 24-hour diary and parental perception of crying.
Results: Crying decreased by 42% in both groups after the first intervention week. Swaddling had no added benefit in the total group. Young infants (1-7 weeks of age at randomization) benefited significantly more from swaddling as shown by a larger decrease of crying over the total intervention period. Older infants (8-13 weeks of age at randomization) showed a significantly greater decrease in crying when offered the standardized approach without swaddling. The actual difference in crying time was 10 minutes.
Conclusion: For older babies, swaddling did not bring any benefit when added to regularity and stimuli reduction in baby care, although swaddling was a beneficial supplementation in excessively crying infants <8 weeks of age.