What's the difference between swaddling and belly banding? Both attempt to simulate the womb, a warm place, where movement is limited and the cozy feeling of pressure from all over. Both help to relieve gas and colic symptoms. The swaddle keeps the arms and legs from flailing in the open air, a new and perhaps scary feeling for a newborn used to the cozy warmth of the womb.
But the belly band applies pressure and warmth to a specific area for different reasons. When baby is in the womb, she is in a fetal position, where her knees are are pressing against the stomach. The belly band does the same thing, just differently. The band helps to apply gentle pressure to keep the stomach and all the inner organs protected inside. Newborns don't have stomach muscles, which is why they always have big bloated stomachs. Actually, stomach muscles don't really develop until the toddler years.
The warmth also helps to protect from stomach colds, air, bacteria and facilitate the passing of often painful gas bubbles from breathing in air during feedings or just normal digestive functions. The digestive track will take at least a year to develop to its full functioning capacity. The belly band helps to relieve much of these growing pains. Also, in the summer time a belly band can be used without risk of baby overheating from an overly warm swaddle.
Feel free to swaddle and band at the same time. I did with my premie and both methods helped keep my little girl feeling warm and secure. It also helped her sleep better, longer.