Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Swaddle


We've been swaddling since day one as per the guidance from the pregnancy classes, hospital nurses, and various parenting literature. Everywhere we turned, we were told to swaddle. The swaddle was described as key to making baby feel safe and secure, not to mention prevent him from waking up by bonking himself in the head. We swaddled as we were told to. My husband was a natural at it and swaddles the Blueberry far more snuggly than I ever manage--you could bounce a quarter off the blanket when he's done. I struggled but got better at it eventually. As promised, the Blueberry loved it and seems to "need" the swaddle in order to fall asleep, particularly when his limbs are at their most restless.

The trouble is that all the attention was paid to why and how to swaddle, no one ever mentioned how to wean the baby of the swaddle, particularly when he outgrows the swaddle blanket or becomes enamored of pulling it to his face, either accidentally or to chew on it, yet hasn't yet mastered the skill to uncover his face. Assuming the swaddle is super-tight, what happens when the baby learns to roll over? What about the difficulty in laying out the swaddle one-handed when the baby gets bigger? What about all the cute wearable blankets that may soon be outgrown without use?

I'm starting to worry about all of these things. The Blueberry's now four-and-a-half months and theoretically going to learn to roll over any day now. During naptime today, he pulled the blanket completely over his face. Granted the muslin blankets we wrap him with seem breathable, but I don't want to test that.

At least one company has exploited similar concerns and sells a product supposed designed to wean baby of swaddling. It's a really stupid-looking star-shaped wearable blanket called the Zipadee-Zip that does not look like it would solve the problem at all since it appears to allow free range of motion. Parents on message boards have advised to leave one arm then the other, but have reported mixed success. I might try that particularly since the Blueberry often works both arms out of the swaddle at night yet continues to sleep comfortably. However, for this afternoon's nap we went cold turkey, mainly because the Blueberry was already asleep and I couldn't lay out the swaddle without setting him down.


He slept for nearly 30 minutes but now appears to be awake. Still no cries for attention, so we'll see if he goes back to sleep. I'm not optimistic.


  1. We grownups think of swaddling as sort of a "fourth trimester" sort of thing in our house. My eldest begged to differ and we were swaddling him a long, long, long time beyond the 4.5 month mark. Even as a toddler he enjoyed being wrapped up "like a burrito" though it wasn't a real swaddle anymore.

    Wrapping one arm out but very snugly compressing the torso is a good start, then both arms out but still compressing the torso, then switching to a sleep sack.

    And I think weaning from the swaddle for naps first before tackling nighttime sleep is useful, even if it means shorter naps.

    1. My husband thinks it's hysterical that I often tell the baby, "the book says..." and I know it is. But maybe if I say something enough, the baby will go along with whatever it is if only to humor me. It has to start some time. ;)