The practice of swaddling goes back nearly as far as human history itself. The oldest archaeological evidence of mothers swaddling their babies begins in 4000 BC with the migrating peoples of ancient central Asia. The ancient Greeks and Romans swaddled. There are even biblical references to the practice.
Swaddling's ability to soothe and calm babies has been known to mothers around the world for countless generations. But while the evidence of its benefits has been clear to women for thousands of years and across every continent, today we can turn to science for proof that swaddling is one of the most gentle, effective, and beneficial practices for mothers and their children.
In 2002, the medical journal Pediatrics published a study that explained why babies who are swaddled sleep more peacefully by preventing spontaneous movements (called reflex motion) from waking them up continually during the night. The same year, the Journal of Applied Physiology wrote that swaddled infants stay in REM sleep (the most restorative, deepest sleep) longer than those who were not. There is growing evidence every year that swaddling may indirectly help prevent SIDS as well.
Swaddling is said to be as familiar to babies as it is to their mothers because it recreates the secure and cozy feeling of the womb -- and using swaddles made of natural cotton muslin only enhances that blissful feeling. Muslin is a finely-woven breathable fabric believed to have originated in Bangladesh during the Middle Ages. It's delicate, yet durable weave, makes the fabric stretchy, and therefore ideal for swaddling, as the natural 'give' allows the wrap to be tucked snuggly around a baby without being overly restrictive.
The lightweight muslin also permits air to circulate around the baby's body, while still providing comfort and warmth without the worry that the baby may overheat in moderate weather. Cotton muslin is also a workhorse fabric, in that wraps woven from this natural fibre stands up to repeated washings only becoming softer -- and better -- with age.
Of course, all the scientific evidence in the world is no substitute for the experience of millions of mothers through countless generations; that swaddling in muslin is one of the most loving, gentle, restorative acts a mother can perform for her child.