Quitting the Swaddle Cold-TurkeyEmily Malone
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.