Warning: this post is really mostly for other poor first-time parents, who, like me, have no idea what they are doing. Perhaps someone can learn something useful from this scintillating blow-by-blow of my experience with swaddling (and how I quit), but perhaps not. Either way, I’m writing it down because I’m hopelessly behind on the baby book, and this is the best way to keep track of every little thing. My feelings will not be hurt if you choose not to read this one. However, I have provided (adorable) photos of my son to reward you for getting through this thing.
Here it is.
From birth, Baby Guy needed to be swaddled to sleep, because his arms flew around and whacked him in the face when he was sleeping (or awake, for that matter). Swaddling is great for the following reasons:
- Baby can’t whomp himself in the face
- Baby can’t scratch his face with his (impossible to cut short enough) crazy sharp little fingernails
- Baby’s hands and feet stay nice and warm without breaking the “no loose blankets in the crib” rule
- Baby burritos are just so stinkin’ cute
My aunt gave us 3 Swaddle Me muslin swaddles that were so cute (including the one in the photo above), and they were perfect for when the boy was smaller, probably up to about 12 pounds. We also purchased 4 Aden & Anais muslin swaddle blankets (also adorable) that are larger, and worked better for when he was a little bigger. All of the swaddle blankets we have are soft and breathable, easy to wash, and I’d recommend them to anyone who wants to try swaddling their little one.
However, we reached a point very quickly (probably about 2.5 months) at which Baby Guy could get his little arms out of the swaddle blanket no matter what. So I started putting either two swaddles or a receiving blanket on top of the swaddle blanket to keep him under wraps. We were given many awesome receiving blankets, so had no shortage. I found that stretch knit blankets worked the best to keep the little guy contained, but it’s good that we were working with cold weather, because that solution would’ve been too warm for spring or summer temperatures.
By 3.5 months, nothing was keeping the little one wrapped up, so anytime he awakened in the night, he’d immediately free himself from the swaddle, and proceed to go to town scratching up his tiny little face, and making his mother feel neglectful for not trimming his nails adequately. Interestingly enough, Baby Guy was much less bothered by shredding his own face than he was (and still is) by me trying to cut his fingernails. I tried to circumvent this problem by folding down the little hand flaps on the pajamas that had them, but the boy has long arms, and it did seem cruel to scrunch them into the sleeves of some of his pajamas that fit otherwise.
Another issue that was problematic for me with swaddling was that my little one wouldn’t eat when he was swaddled. So, every night, often 3-4 times, I’d have to unswaddle him, feed him, lay him down and reswaddle him. A hassle, to say the least, especially when I had to introduce the second blanket.
So around 4 months I knew that I needed to make a transition, because swaddling becomes dangerous when baby starts rolling over. He hadn’t gotten there quite yet, but I knew it was coming. I tried swaddling him with just one arm out to ease him into it, but that didn’t work at all. Flailing ensued, and sleep did not.
My friend (who has a baby boy almost exactly the same age as mine), was going through the same thing. But here’s the cool thing: she showed up at my house for a play date with a gift for the baby guy and I! She brought us a Zipadee-Zip, a thoughtful present for which I am so thankful. It’s a fantastic little garment that helps baby transition from swaddling. It provides some freedom of movement for the arms and legs, but still restricts them a bit, so that they won’t startle so much, and of course, prevents those little baby needle nails from mauling little baby noses and cheeks. The Zipadee-Zip is fabulous, and here’s why:
- It zips (Surprise!), so it’s fast and easy to take on and off
- It keeps little baby hands and feet covered for warmth and protection from fingernails
- Baby can safely roll over in it
- My baby doesn’t insist on being taken out of it to eat! It goes on at the beginning of the night and doesn’t come off until morning (barring bodily fluid overflow incidents)
- Baby loves it! The first time he tried it, he was able to take a normal nap, and it was a super smooth transition out of the swaddle blankets.
- Babies can self-soothe by sucking on hands (albeit through the fabric) if they choose to do so. Mine chooses to insist upon his pacifier, but I’ve heard of babies that soothe themselves.
- It’s so cute! My friend gave us the giraffe print, and my mom gave us the penguin suit!
We tried the Zipadee-Zip for about 4 days, just during naps. It worked well for us, and then we tried it overnight with equal success! It does not magically make your child sleep through the night. I’ll be honest; I was hoping it would. However, that was not the actual purpose of this little sleep sack, so I have forgiven it.
So far the worst thing that has happened with this is soggy little hand points from when my baby has chewed on his hand waiting for me to get him out of his crib. Since everything my little guy touches gets soggy soon
er or later, this is not a huge issue.
There are other swaddle transition products out there, and I’m sure they’re also fabulous. This is the only one I’ve tried, so it’s the only one I can say anything about.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before Baby Guy has the control he needs to be able to sleep without any restrictive contraptions. But until then, he’s feeling pretty cozy.