By Aubrey Everett
During our hospital stay when our son was born, we closely watched every nurse as he or she swaddled our new baby. Each had a slightly different technique, but they were all extremely effective. The little guy was wrapped up like a tight burrito and he sure seemed to like it. We took mental notes so we could perfect our wrap without the nurses’ help.
Once we were settled at home, we could never quite get the swaddle exactly right. He would wriggle loose, or an end would free itself from our inexpert wrap. We tried different swaddle blankets and tried to recall the technique taught to us in the newborn course we took when I was pregnant.
Finally a mom friend asked if I had tried velcro swaddles. Ah ha! Why had we been struggling to get the perfect wrap pattern with so-called “swaddle blankets” when these velcro miracles existed? After introducing velcro swaddles for naps and nighttime, we never looked back.
But all good things must come to an end. Just shy of the four month mark our active baby started to be a little too active in his sleep. He was beginning to show signs of rolling and, for safety reasons, I knew it was only a matter of time before we had to take away the beloved swaddle.
He was beginning to show signs of rolling and, for safety reasons, I knew it was only a matter of time before we had to take away the beloved swaddle.
Instead of going cold turkey, we used the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit for a short, one month, transitional period. This weighted suit (think: the Michelin Man or a full-body snowsuit) continued to suppress our baby’s startle reflex, but prevented him from rolling. Even though it was the middle of August, we increased the AC and zipped him into his suit and he slept solidly for several weeks.
When I peeked in on him one day and he was nearly on his stomach in the suit, I knew our Michelin Man days were over. This time we did go cold turkey. We put him in a sleep sack with his arms free and laid him in the crib. We prepared for the worst.
Like many other aspects of parenting, the anticipation was worse than the actual event. Even though our baby had slept every night of his short life with his arms bundled up tight against his body, he didn’t seem to care -- or notice -- that they were suddenly let free. He wriggled around a bit, found a comfy position, and fell asleep.
Like many other aspects of parenting, the anticipation was worse than the actual event.
Our transition out of the swaddle -- led by his ability to start rolling -- coincided with the much dreaded four month sleep regression. This was also around the time that both my husband and I were returning to work full time. With these various changes in play, we also decided to move our son from his bassinet in our room to the crib in his nursery. For us, all of these changes worked harmoniously. Our baby responded well to having more freedom of movement in his crib, and we slept soundly knowing he was in a safe sleeping environment getting plenty of restorative rest.
A Few Things to Remember
- Swaddling isn’t meant to be permanent - it’s a temporary method to help newborns adjust to life outside of womb.
- It's time to transition out of a swaddle when your baby starts turning over on their side or stomach.
- Some parents try the transition cold turkey; i.e. they remove the blanket and see what happens. In this case, some babies adjust instantly, others take a few nights. Another method is to try more gradual; i.e. start with just one arm out for a couple of nights, then both arms out for a couple of nights before completely removing the blanket.
- Some products might help. Check out the Magic Sleepsuit, the Nested Bean Zen Classic Swaddle, or the Love to Dream Swaddle Up Transition Bag.
- Every baby eventually transitions!