'Ooh, we didn't do that in our day.' The first time I heard this was when I returned to see my family in England with my two-month-old baby, and my mum - with eyebrows raised - had remarked at my son, nicely swaddled in his travel cot. Two weeks later, I heard it again, this time from my mother-in-law. Tom was all wrapped up in his baby's blanket, soporific and ready for bed. 'Ooh, we didn't do that in our day,' she said. A friend of mine was told that her swaddle looked like child cruelty, yet all babies I know are wrapped up in comfortable covers in hospital and most mums continue the practice at home. So this week I want to talk about the 's' word. Hear this, older generations of mothers: swaddling has been around since Jesus. It's not some newfangled fad like zumba. I quote the King James Bible, Luke 2:7: 'And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room in the inn.' Babies are born with what is known as the Moro reflex, which makes their arms jerk around unintentionally. They get it in their sleep, too, and the arm-flailing wakes them up, which launches a cycle all new mums know only too well: crying, feeding and trying to soothe the baby to sleep. If they're swaddled, their arms are kept secure such that their involuntary reflexes don't wake them up. That's the theory anyway, as long as you can master the art of swaddling, which is no mean feat. Swaddling is the blanket equivalent of origami. It's fiddly, difficult and your own attempts never quite look like the diagram. It can take three or more attempts before the baby is wrapped, with no loose bits flapping in their face. I consult Hulda Thorey, co-owner and head midwife at Annerley, a maternity and childhood consultancy. Thorey is an Icelandic goddess, a brilliant midwife and also the mother of four (yes, four!) gorgeous children. 'Swaddling can be a fantastic way to calm a baby and help it sleep longer if it is a baby that easily wakes up when startled,' she says. 'It may sometimes provide a warm and cosy feeling that is similar to being cuddled, and therefore the baby is calm.' She acknowledges that some people (like myself) find swaddling hard to manage. 'For those [who] struggle, pre-done swaddles can be used. The Australian brand Love to Swaddle as well as [Britain's] Grobag offer something of this sort.' I used a Miracle Blanket from Mothercare. While it looks like a random assortment of cloth sewn together, it is indeed miraculous. You can have your baby swaddled in less than a minute with the guarantee they won't escape. We swaddled until Tom was three months old. At this point, he rolled. Once they can roll, a swaddle is no longer safe as they need their arms loose to push themselves into a position where it's easy to breathe. The main concern about swaddling is that it restricts a baby and could therefore cause physiological harm. 'If you do it in the correct way and only when sleeping so the baby has plenty of free play in between, swaddling should not be harmful,' says Thorey. 'But it is very important that this is in fact the case - that the baby is left to play with arms free a lot, put on its tummy a lot and has plenty of kick-around time without a swaddle.' What's good enough for Jesus is good enough for me.