Thursday, October 3, 2013

How To Wean Baby Off A Swaddle

So, I've been in post-swaddle hell for about... a month now. Jack has been busting out of his swaddle in strongman fashion for weeks. First we had to abandon the SwaddleMe swaddles, which at first were a godsend, making our baby sleep through the night at eight weeks.

Our little burrito boy at one month old
in a SwaddleMe.

They were too thin for an older baby, though, and the velcro, while mostly effective on a three-month-old baby was laughable in the face of a five-month-old baby, who could tear the velcro apart like the Hulk. We needed the industrial strength of the Halo Sleepsack.

Baby is snug as a bug in a really tight rug.
Halo Sleepsack.

This worked for another month or so, the flaps were longer (All the better for creating a nice, tight, full-body fit) and the velcro was longer and more no-nonsense. However, as great as it worked, I think a swaddle is something of a resistance trainer. The baby fights against it, even though he relies on it to sleep, and eventually becomes strong enough to break free. Every time. Sigh.

Night time sleep has been fine. No swaddle? No problem. He'll sleep sack it up, arms all everywhere and fall asleep. I think this is due to the sleep training from a couple months ago. Nap time? Pfft, forget it. It's been the bane of my week, as it's gotten progressively awful, I think triggered by a growth spurt.

So, what do you do? Well, you can try various products to keep baby's arms immobilized, very tempting if you have a baby like mine who prefers a soother but pulls the soother out and can't get it back in, or if you have a baby (Like mine) who scratches his face. But if your baby (Like mine) is rolling, sometimes you just got to bite the bullet and go swaddle free.

I tried various methods with poor rates of success.

1. One arm swaddled, one arm out.

Usually he'd just pull the other arm out. This really didn't work well.

2. Teach baby to sleep on stomach. 

Jack was rolling onto his stomach, which kept his hands off his face and less able to pull out his soother (Oh, he could still do it, but it was harder). So I thought, time to get him to sleep that way. I'd rub his back while he sobbed until he fell asleep, and this was time-consuming and annoying. It sometimes didn't work. 

3. Use your hands to hold baby's hands down so he doesn't pull out his soother.

This effectively makes you the swaddle. It was okay when it was holding one arm, but if he'd free the other one, you were screwed. At first this method was helping, so long as the arm didn't free itself, but soon it turned into a game for Jack and my presence in the nursery kept him awake. He'd bounce his body and giggle. Then he'd twist his body around to see if he could escape. Sometimes he'd come close to falling asleep, and I'd try to leave while he was still drowsy and BAM, arm whips up, removes soother, he grins at me and then cries.

4. Controlled crying while baby is unswaddled.

I'd leave Jack to cry for a few minutes and come back in to reassure him and then leave. I'd find my baby tired out from crying and as soon as he saw me he'd perk up, and we'd start over from square one. This was too infuriating to try too many times. Ain't nobody got time for that.

5. Let him cry himself to sleep.

This was the final straw. The first time I let him cry it out took somewhere between 20 to 30 minutes. The second time took about 15. I just let him do it again and it took 5. I feel we're really getting somewhere.

I bought the Zipadee-zip awhile ago, in hopes it would help the swaddle transition:

Fresh from the mail.
It helps, I think. He's still enclosed in something, although nothing that truly restricts movement. He's sleeping in it right now. I'd take a picture, but, you know. Sleep. It's happening. I'm taking zero chances with bothering him.

So there you have it. How to get baby to go without a swaddle when nothing is working? Dude, I'm sorry to tell you this, but you probably gotta go cold turkey, suffer through it and let your baby work it out for him or herself. And they will, because that's what babies do. They work things out. The hard part is letting them.

Sometimes you have to accept that your baby's cries don't mean, "I need you!" They sometimes mean, "I don't like this!" And that's okay.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll reap the benefits of all this agony. If it's anything like that last bout of sleep training I did, life should get a whole lot better around here.


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