1. clothes consisting of long, narrow strips of cloth for swaddling an infant.
2. long garments for an infant.
3. the period of infancy or immaturity, as of a person, or incipience, as of a thing: Nuclear energy is still in its swaddling clothes.
4. rigid supervision or restriction of actions or movements, as of the immature: new nations that are freeing themselves of their swaddling clothes. Also called swad'dling bands" (for defs. 1, 2).
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.