Sunday, May 30, 2010

(Almost) Free from the Bonds of Swaddling

As many of you know, I am addicted to swaddling my child. It started out innocently enough in the Children's Hospital NICU where The Chub Muffin was constantly in a swaddled state. When we brought her home in the dead of winter, her pediatrician strongly recommended keeping her swaddled so she could stay warm. She was so small, that helping her save energy by keeping her warm would help her to grow. At least that was plan. So for months I continued swaddling her for nap time and at night. By the time 3 months rolled around and Spring was around the corner, I realized it might be a good time to break her from the habit. You can read more about our first attempts here. Needless to say, it did not go well. After a few days of trying, I gave up. I could no longer handle watching my baby on the video monitor struggle to fall asleep and cry for an hour. She was just not ready and neither was I.

It took a swaddling intervention to get me to change my ways. One night at a girls night out, The Hubs put her down for the night and "experimented". I love how men can be so much more spontaneous that way. I came home to see my little girl laying peacefully in her crib with her arms up by her head. It made me wonder why we hadn't tried this sooner. Oh yeah, that's right. I value my sleep. Anyway, everything seemed to be going rather smoothly until about 3am when I heard an outburst of crying. It seemed that although she was able to fall asleep like that in a very tired state, she had a harder time transitioning with her arms there to distract her. So for several nights we put her down for bed unswaddled since we knew she was capable of falling asleep initially like that. Then when we fed her at 10, we'd swaddle her for the rest of the night. After a few days, we let her go unswaddled again to see how long she could go. I was prepared to let her cry a little in the middle of the night but go in to reassure her if needed. Finally, she made it from 7:30pm to 6am unswaddled. It seems like a gradual approach is working (but I feel the need to knock on wood right now, or possibly bang on it).

Now, as for naps, those are still a little tricky. Today was my first time experimenting with an unswaddled Chubadub. I have been hesitant to experiment because she already has trouble with naps sometimes anyway, and she often wakes up after 45 min. as it is. I knew the added arm distraction would probably not help these factors. And although I treasure her nap times as some much needed "me" time, I figured this weekend of all weekends while The Hubs is home, would be a good time to test it out. I am happy to say she did actually fall asleep for about 20-30 minutes, but just as I expected, was roused from her sleep and unable to get back to sleep after that which ultimately resulted in some crying and lots of grunting and squealing. There was just too much excitement in the crib (in other words, appendages to play with).

Because the gradual approach seemed to have worked for night time, I think I'll try one nap unswaddled per day for about a week (or less if it goes well) and gradually move to a bondage free nap routine. Wish me luck. This has not been an easy journey.

Also, I am not trying to leave everyone in the dark as far as my child's health is concerned. Basically there is no new information to report. We have not received any tests back yet and her next appointment is in about a week. I will keep you posted as we find out more. In the meantime we have been in touch with the Early Intervention Program. Our coordinator should be calling next week to set up some in-home physical therapy sessions. Free, at-home appointments = one happy momma.


  1. You might try swaddling with one arm out. This is a transition that works with many babies.

    The Temporary Nanny
    Newborn Care Specialist and Parent Educator

  2. We've been experimenting with letting go of the swaddle too. Some nights go well, others do not. He took his first unswaddled nap today & it lasted for almost 2 hours. I was thrilled. Of course, when he's unswaddled, he's a belly sleeper, which makes me a tad nervous. But I guess I can't change that since he can roll wherever he wants anyway.

    Lesson learned for next child: do not swaddle after the first month (or two TOPS!). I'm sure you feel the same way. I told my mom and Matt that the last day he uses the Miracle Blanket, I might burn it. I never want to look at that thing again!!

  3. Exciting new changes--on your blog and with our little Chub Muffin. Small battles won, lead to big victories in the end! Strong work!

  4. you are so stressing me out. my baby is 4 months and last night, when swaddled in a sheet ( Rainbow bright from the 80s) she really had a hard time staying alseep. who could blame her? it was 78 degrees and muggy as all heck...but if she isnt swaddled?!?!?!?!?!? so my husband JUST TODAY put her down unswaddled and she went to sleep. so I was all, on lunch at work I read your post and I am officially freaked out. IM the one that puts her and her 4yr old sister to bed, not my hubby. he will be out blissfully working. IM the one that deals with the middle of the night. and I have to work 11 hour days!!! darn swaddle!!!! ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!