by: Emma Aguirre
At nearly six months of age, my daughter is still swaddled when she takes naps and goes to bed. The amazing thing is just recently I’ve noticed I can pretty much swaddle her up and she will fall asleep. This theory will really be tested Thursday when we fly out to California. I’m hoping she’ll nap on the plane when I swaddle her up (I think I’m fooling myself as she’s also gotten to be incredibly nosey!)! She seems to associate swaddling with sleep. As a side note, I noticed that she’s a lot more flexible with her napping too. As long as she gets one good long nap a day, she’s totally fine. If we’re at home, I do still put her down as normal for a second nap, but it means I can be out all morning and she might doze in the car between errands but she will be just fine going to bed for two or three hours in the afternoon or vice versa. It makes life a bit easier….
Anyways, I remember when we learned to swaddle in the baby 101 class at The Woman’s Hospital. It seemed pretty straight forward…on a doll that didn’t move. Once you have moving parts it does get a bit more difficult but we had my mom around for the first month who didn’t stand for any flailing around. For the first month of her life, my daughter was swaddled up 24/7. And I really feel like it made for a happier baby. She slept so much, ate well and was just generally easily pleased. She always looked so cozy. She would get an arm out and we might re-wrap her and pretty soon we were all pro’s. It just made sense to me, especially when you think about Dr. Harvey Karp’s theory of the fourth trimester. They have been squished inside snuggly and warm for so long and are thrust out into the big wide world. It would alarm me too and I’d probably cry a lot. Why wouldn’t we try to recreate that snuggly warm feeling to soothe them and make them feel comfortable in this strange new world?
I hear many parents say something along the lines of my child didn’t like it and I really think a lot of that is more to do with them. They may not have liked handling the baby in such a rough manner, because you do have to move them around quite a bit to get it done probably. Nurses do it just fine in the hospital and can help any new parent get the technique down. Every time my daughter came back into our room from being in the nursery, she was wrapped up like a burrito and happy. I hate to hear those stories about “such good babies in the hospital” and then parents get them home and it’s “like they are a different baby”. The swaddle also has to be tight enough so they don’t wiggle out. If it’s not tight, they will get out and likely wake themselves up, causing them to fuss, hence the “my baby didn’t like it” theory. I think at this age, they don’t really know what they “like” and “dislike”. Mom and dad are in charge!
Around three months, we stopped swaddling my daughter with both arms in the swaddle, keeping one arm out. She’s a thumb sucker so the left hand had to be out for that. She would find a way to get it out, no matter how tight we wrapped her up. Now, at almost six months, I notice she often has two arms out and sometimes her feet, with the swaddle blanket wrapped around her middle section. I don’t think this is a cue to stop it though. It’s part of her routine and she snuggles on my shoulder before bed time all wrapped up cozy and I think she needs it. I’ve read a couple of articles that suggest it’s bad for their development beyond a certain age, but if it comforts my daughter, she’s happy and she’s developing well, then I really don’t see an issue with it. The key is learning how to do it right and sticking with it. Your baby will thank you!
PS. The Adan & Anais giant muslin swaddling blankets at Motherhood Center should be on every new mom’s list! I purchased a box of three thinking that would be enough. Within the first week of my daughter being born and I saw how much we were using them, I sent my mom to TMC to buy two more boxes. They are so handy for everything and very lightweight for our hot summers here!