When I wrote about my experience with swaddling my son, I actually left out a big part of the experience, so I’m going to rectify that omission with this (
much shorter) post.
About 3 weeks into the whole parenting thing, Baby Guy started fighting the swaddle. Not when we first wrapped him up to go to sleep, but in the wee hours of the morning (usually starting at around 3 or 4) he’d start grunting and wiggling, like he was trying to shimmy his shoulders and arms out of the blanket.
At that point he was in our bedroom still, in his bassinet, and the constant noise kept me awake and drove me to relentlessly Google things like “Should I stop swaddling?” “My baby fights the swaddle,” etc. The crazy thing was that he was sleeping the entire time. Obviously it wasn’t very restful sleep for him, but he wasn’t awake, and I had no idea what to do.
Finally, after a couple of weeks (maybe 3?) of this happening every single night, I hit upon a forum wherein a mom had posted a similar problem. Another mom had responded, asking if the baby in question had any issues with reflux and stating that once she had tilted the bassinet, her baby had stopped fighting the swaddle.
The next day I asked my husband to figure out a way to tilt the baby guy safely, and he did. That night there was no struggle! It seems that the little bit of reflux that my son had was causing him discomfort in the early morning hours, and the grunts and wiggles had very little to do with the swaddle and everything to do with feeling icky.
Baby Guy slept with the mattress tilted at about 30 degrees each night for the rest of the time he was in the bassinet, until he was 3 months old. At first he napped in the bassinet too, but at around 2 months we started napping him in his crib during the day (with no tilting), and it was fine. At 3 months, when he moved into his crib full time, he didn’t seem to have the early morning reflux anymore, so we never had to tilt the crib mattress.
I was seriously tempted to quit swaddling the boy when he struggled like that, morning after morning, but I’m glad I didn’t. Quitting wouldn’t have solved the problem, and I’m pretty sure his quality of sleep (especially in those first 3 months) would’ve been a lot worse if his startle reflex had been given free reign over our nights!
So, if your baby is fighting the swaddle, I would urge you to look into the underlying reason, because it might be totally unrelated to the swaddle itself. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the benefits of swaddling needlessly. Of course, your baby might just hate to be swaddled, and it’s certainly not something that has to be done. I just thought I’d share my story so that someone can possibly learn faster what took me too long to figure out!
Oh, one more thing: the baby did end up down at the foot of the bassinet sometimes, a little bit scrunched. He never slid at all while he was sleeping, but when he’d wake up and start stirring, he’d slip a little bit down the mattress. It never seemed to bother him, but of course we were right there in the room with him, so he was never left like that for very long. If you do decide to tilt the bassinet, make sure everything is very stable and don’t choose a steep angle! Baby Guy couldn’t get too smushed down in the bottom because the angle wasn’t steep enough, but it could get problematic if you increased the incline.
The other thing that I left out of my previous post is that after baby guy was about a month old, we never swaddled his legs, just his arms. His legs and feet were still staying warm inside the blanket, but we didn’t fold up the bottom and tuck it in anymore. I was too freaked out that I would give him hip dysplasia if I swaddled his legs incorrectly, and his legs didn’t move wildly like his arms did, anyway.
Okay, I think I’ve covered the topic fairly exhaustively now. If you have any questions, I probably don’t have good answers, but I can try. Also, I have already Googled basically every possible issue, so I can perhaps tell you what the general consensus on a topic is.
Thanks for making it through yet another post on this oh-so-riveting subject, the swaddle.