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Quitting the Swaddle Cold-Turkey

By EmilyBMalone |

Arms wide open, and loving all his freedom!

We have been really lucky that even since the early days, Cullen has been a really good sleeper.  Now that I have typed that, he will surely wake up every hour on the hour tonight. While I hear that some babies hate the swaddle and fight it with all their might, my baby loves the comfort of his mini straightjacket.

We have had a great bedroom routine set ever since he was right around 4-5 weeks old.  He gets tired, he gets swaddled, we lay him down, he blinks his eyes a few times, and BAM – he’s out for the evening at 7:30pm on the dot.  This routine has been a saving grace for me and Casey, as it allows us time in the evenings for working, cooking, and relaxing.

But I knew that the swaddle couldn’t last forever, and I have been so afraid that once we took it out of the routine, our restful evenings would be gone forever.

Last week, we made the big transition from our bedroom to the crib.  One of the reasons I wanted to move him in the first place was that he had started somehow moving around in the pack n play, and I often found him pressed up against the side with his face, which terrified me!

Now that he’s in the crib, I can see what he’s up to on the video monitor.  I was shocked and kind of horrified as I watched and saw that he’s actually pushing off with his feet and rolling over onto his side in the swaddle – so ridiculously close to rolling over!  Too close for comfort, in fact, and Casey and I decided that the swaddle would have to go.

I considered doing the one-arm-out approach, as many moms have suggested, but to be honest he was kind of doing that himself already.  He’s really into his hands these days, and most mornings I find him chomping on his little hand peeking out the top of the swaddle.  So last night I waited until he was tired, put him down in his crib with a pacifier, and tiptoed out of the room.  I watched on the video monitor as he played for a bit, rolled from side to side, stared at his mobile, and eventually closed his eyes.

My husband and I high fived and went about our night.

About an hour later we heard him start shrieking through the monitor speakers.  When I went back up, I found him crying but not actually awake, just startled out of his sleep with his newly freed arms.  I popped the pacifier back in and he went back to sleep, but I could tell that his arms were going to do it again.  And about an hour later, the same thing happened.  I figured we were in for a long night.

Around 12:30am, he cried again, but this time I figured it was for his typical 1am feeding, so I pulled him out and filled his belly back up.  Hoping I would see even an hour of sleep myself, I crawled back into bed once he was asleep.  Imagine my surprise when I didn’t hear another peep from him until 5am —ready for more food!  I fed him again and put him back in the crib, where he talked and played by himself for a while, before eventually dozing back off.

At 6:30am, he was up again, but this time he just seemed awake, rather than upset.  I brought him into our room and let him snuggle up next to me in bed for a few minutes.  The snow was coming down heavy outside, and I figured we all deserved a little extra time under the covers.  The next thing I knew it was 7:30, we had both been sleeping, and my baby was passed out cold with his arms wide open next to me.  I got out of bed and got ready, and Cullen slept in later than he ever has – 8:45am!

It was our first time trying the no-swaddle approach, and despite a few brief wake-ups, I think it was a big success!  We’re going to give it another go tonight, and hope that as he gets more used to having his arms out free, he will wake himself up less and less.  And now I know that when he does eventually roll himself over, he won’t be stuck face down on his stomach with his arms trapped.  That should help us all sleep a little easier tonight.

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About EmilyBMalone



Emily Malone shares her adventures in cooking and parenting on her personal blog, Daily Garnish. Read bio and latest posts → Read Emily's latest posts →

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9 thoughts on “Quitting the Swaddle Cold-Turkey

  1. Colleen says:

    We just went cold turkey and ditched the swaddle for our six month old this week. It was long overdue but he was so fussy without it that we’d been putting it off. So three nights ago he cried for a painful hour and fifteen minutes when we put him down. The next night forty-five minutes but then he slept all the way through until morning. Then no crying at all and twelve full hours of sleep! I thought he wouldn’t sleep as well but he hadn’t been sleeping through the night until now. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Good luck to you tonight.

  2. Emily says:

    Our son Quinn is 14 weeks and I’ve been trialing him out of his swaddle for naps. It’s been hit or miss. But you have given me inspiration to just go for it at night. Maybe we will try it this weekend. Good luck tonight! Hope it goes just as well as last night!!

  3. Katie KS says:

    Have you tried sleepsacks? M has used one since we ditched the swaddle at 10 weeks. He stays warm and cozy but no trapped arms. Maybe Cullen will go longer sleeping now too! We are at 9:30 to 7 now which rocks. If I didn’t work it might be longer but so be it!

  4. Leatitia @ The Sweetest Year says:

    I never used a swaddle with my son because he hated having his arms trapped from day one! Funny how different babies can be. Good job on the transition! :)

  5. Erica says:

    I’m amazed at your bedtime routine…you lay him down, he blinks a few times and drifts off to sleep?!?!? My baby is a couple weeks younger than yours and we spend what seems like forever bouncing, singing, walking…anything! This is all after a nice, relaxing bath. It seems like he fights sleep like a toddler…it’s been like this since he was born too! Lucky us! Hehe.

  6. sam says:

    we stopped swaddling our son when he was about 3 1/2 months old. it was about a week after we moved him into his crib in his room. it took a few days for him to adjust, but by the fourth night he was back to sleeping through the night. i’m sure the same will happen with Cullen, since he’s such a good sleeper to begin with!

  7. kim says:

    We too, just stopped swaddling this week. It has been. In short, a NIGHTMARE. our routine consisted of getting into jammies, a fresh diaper, swaddled, fed and then down for the night. Since cold turkeying thr swaddle, babe has been downright fussy all day long. She wont nap or sleepall day long. She now likes to cuddle more to fall asleep but forget putting her in her crib. You are blessed! I could only pray my little one handled this as well as yours. I’m praying now for sleep for all of us.

  8. Sally Mae says:

    They are like little magicians getting their arms out of a swaddle! My little boy is wearing the same outfit today as Cullen in this photo – I had to laugh! ;)

  9. Josie says:

    I looooooveeee tour blog my baby os 2 months today (got his vaccines today) I relate to you so much and your blog helps me feel normal :)
    Love what your baby wears what brands do you use?

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