As of age 16 weeks and 6 days, it appears we have finally been able to retire the swaddle – YES!
I was never good at swaddling. No fewer than two nurses and three helpful moms have tried to help me. I’ve read the books and followed the diagrams, and I just can’t get it. Sure, I can bundle up my baby in a lumpy and loose burrito, but it’s nowhere near the tight papooses that other moms can crank out in seconds while doing two other things at once. (Speaking of which, the BEST swaddlers I have ever seen are in Ghana – those moms are incredible at not only whipping up the tightest swaddles I’ve seen, but then wrapping them around their waists so that their babies are snug and secure on their backs for hours at a time – of course all of this takes probably a grand total of 10 seconds). But I digress.
Finally admitting to myself that I would likely never get the hang of swaddling, I purchased what we call “Swaddles for Dummies,” or the SwaddleMe swaddles (say that 5x fast). These things have been great! Instead of fiddling with corners and watching our son Houdini himself out of the blanket before we can even finish the swaddle, he is now trapped, straitjacket style, with the help of zippers and velcro tabs. We largely credit these with our son sleeping through the night beginning at about 6 weeks.
About a month ago, we tried to retire the swaddle. I suppose maybe his Morro reflex hadn’t gone away yet? First night in, he got up and began crying three times in as many hours. We gave in and swaddled him so we could sleep the rest of the night. Poor planning on our part as it was a weeknight.
A week or so later (weekend this time) we tried again. Again, baby startled himself and cried and cried – Mommy and Daddy gave in with the swaddle.
After that, we told ourselves we would wait until he was good and ready – or at least 6 months old – before we began trying again. But it was getting a bit ridiculous. The swaddles were getting too small, and Houdini had improved his techniques. Whereas before we would wake him in the mornings to find his little hands had escaped, now one or both of his legs were escaping, along with an arm.
During his daytime naps, I began putting him down sans swaddle. He hated it. He would cry and cry, and I spent many an afternoon comforting him. But slowly he got more used to it. I would watch him on the monitor, see him startle and wake, and then soothe himself back to sleep. Finally had an hour or two to myself.
We decided this past weekend that we would try to put him down at night without the swaddle. Saturday he was scheduled for pictures, so figured better to try Saturday night than Friday night (to avoid a sleepless night for everyone). We bundled him in his sleep sack, and he slept through the entire night! Soundly. So soundly, in fact, that I went in to check on him twice (I admit – to make sure he was still breathing – even though he is already under dual surveillance with two monitors).
I figured it was a fluke but then last night… Same thing!! I think we’ve done it! Again, slept so soundly that I was a bit worried in the night. I’m used to him grunting and groaning and kicking. But then realized – now that he is not swaddled, he has nothing to escape! He can just sleep.
So I suppose it was just his time and he was finally ready. We’re thrilled! Even as I type this, I’m watching him on his monitor, sleeping in peace. Little Houdini has finally escaped the swaddle – for good.