Why is swaddling so important for infants?
It's a great question. It is comforting, they have been in a very restricted area for a while and that is what they are used to. Long ago, we would swaddle babies with their arms down along their sides. Now the recommendation is to keep the hands up to the face for improved oral-motor development. So when you start to swaddle, it is a little tricky especially when they are active but it does take practice. There are lots of swaddle sleep sacks that are available now to make your life a little easier. Regardless of which one you decide on, please know babies are great at getting out of them.
Another reason to swaddling is for containment. Often times when the arms are out, they hit themselves in the face or scratch at their faces. They startle when this happens and can get upset and stressed. They do not have good coordination of their arms as a newborn but they can bring their hands up to their mouths. When babies scratch at their faces, be mindful when they were in utero, their nails were soft. Keep the nails clipped or use a paper emery board to prevent the scratching.
Swaddling helps infants stay warm and stabilizes their temperature. The smaller the baby, the less brown fat, which is used to keep the baby warm. Brown fat insulates and if the infant is cold, the body will burn those calories to stay warm. Swaddling will prevent heat loss.