...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Truth: I swaddle my babies. When our first child, Layne, was three months old I was at my wits end. He screamed all day and night. The longest stretch of sleep I’d gotten out of him was three hours. I had no help nearby {besides HH but I was trying to let him stay rested so he could function at work during the day}. I was frustrated and exhausted and looking for a miracle. I found one in the way of swaddling.

The first night I swaddled Layne properly {i.e. snugly in his Miracle Blanket} and used a sound machine in his nursery, he slept eight hours straight. I felt like a new woman the next morning. His stretches of night sleep lengthened week after week until he was sleeping a solid 10-12 hours consistently. I thought “Holy cow. Why didn’t anyone tell me to do this the day he was born?!”

Since then, I’ve been a swaddling fanatic. I tell anyone who will listen to swaddle their babies when/if they have ’em. The Happiest Baby on the Block is my mama manual. Swaddling mimics the womb, promotes sleep, keeps sharp baby fingernails from wreaking havoc on delicate skin and hinders the Moro reflex.

Even after three kids, I still catch flak about my swaddling methods from some onlookers – family members included. I’ve had people tell me swaddling is claustrophobic, torturous, constrictive, unnecessary, mean, harmful and outdated. I disagree. My boys are now ages 7 and 4 and aren’t claustrophobic. They are perfectly healthy kids, physically and mentally. If anything, there are days I wish I could swaddle them and keep them still again!

I swaddled Layne until he was nine months old. He was an extremely sensitive baby. I swaddled Everett until he was five months old. He was an extremely easy baby. After giving up the swaddle, I moved onto a sleep sack for naps and night time.

Mabrey is almost seven months old and I’m still swaddling her. Albeit with one arm out because she likes it that way. {She’s doing this weird thing now where she squishes her lips inside her mouth so that it looks like she doesn’t have any. Cute and strange at the same time. That’s my girl.}

And I’ll continue to swaddle her as long as it makes her happy. You should see her melt when I start wrapping her up at naptime and bedtime. It’s a cue to let her know sleep is coming. You sleep away ‘lil one. And I will too.

What are your thoughts on swaddling? Ever done it first-hand? Which method or blanket worked best for your baby? How long did you swaddle? Would you do it again?

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

106 Comments

28.October.2012

I learned how to swaddle when I was in nursing school and did my newborn nursery rotation. I used it with my own kids and have taught all my friends and family with new babies how to do it. It is an absolute lifesaver and I don’t know any baby that it hasn’t helped. I just use an old fashioned flannel receiving blanket, nothing fancy. Some babies prefer one hand out, others like both tucked in tight. I swaddled my oldest until she was 10 months old and my younger daughter (an EXTREMELY easy baby) until she was 4 months old. I’m also a huge fan of “Happiest Baby on the Block”. Swaddle, stomach, suck, shush and swing are where it’s at!

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28.October.2012

We swaddled! They taught it at the hospital I delivered and we kept him wrapped fairly tight to sleep most nights, especially since he preferred to sleep on his side anyway. I was sold on swaddling after a particularly rough day following 5 vaccinations at once at his 2-month well-baby check-up. He was writhing and crying ALL morning until I wrapped him up super tight in a swaddler blanket with built-in velcro straps. He was instantly happy, cooing, smiling and napped for hours, waking up like a new baby! Now, at a year old, it’s a whole ‘nother story; this kid travels ALL over his crib in his sleep, doing laps around the mattress until he settles down, fetal position on his belly with no blankets and often no pants on. I have to creep in after he’s been asleep for a while and carefully drape a blanket over him, making sure not to cover his hands or he’ll wake up and start the whole process all over again.

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28.October.2012

I swaddled all of my children. Most of them are teenagers now, and I was the odd one out back then. My sisters used to tease me about it too, and only one of my friends also used to wrap her baby. So definitely not as popular as it should be IMO.
In Australia it can be very hot, so I used cheesecloth, which I just hemmed around the edges. I would buy 1.5m of the cheesecloth (which is like a cotton gauze, vey lightweight, but strong) and they would wash well and dry on the clothesline very quickly.
You are right, it is a signal to the baby to sleep, and they do like the firm safe feeling from being swaddled. I think I stopped doing it once they were able to unwrap themselves – there is no time limit, just do what suits you and the baby.

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Finally developed the “secret swaddle” for my everett. He was a swaddle ninja! I was not ready to give it up! :) http://styleberryblog.com/the-secret-swaddle-my-sleep-solution

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28.October.2012

They taught us to swaddle in the hospital. We did it every night till J was about 4 months old and was a total Houdini about it. When we stopped (when I got tired of having to check she hadn’t pulled the blanket over her face), she was fine as she’s an easy going baby who likes sleep, but I totally encourage it for newborns, and credit it as part of what we did to teach her to sleep so well.

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28.October.2012

I didn’t with my 1st born because I thought he didn’t like it. When I was pregnant with my 2nd, I read Happiest Baby on the Block and learned that the initial resistance is normal. I wish I had read that book sooner!! I swaddled my daughter and it worked like a charm. I love the Aden & Anais blankets for newborns and the Summer SwaddleMe wraps for older babies. My daughter was fully wrapped until about 4 months, then I started wrapping her with 1 or both arms out until she was about 6 months.
Whenever I have a friend at their wits end, I refer them to the 5 S’s in HBOTB. That technique is a lifesaver!

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replied on October 29th, 2012

I liked the Aden & Anais blankets too.

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28.October.2012

I’m astonished that anyone *doesn’t* swaddle. This isn’t a parenting judgement, just that it was such a lifesaver for us too. In fact we were taught it in our birth classes, I didn’t actually think of doing it another way. I think I swaddled Bianca (with one arm out too) until she was at least 9-10 months. She just liked to sleep that way, even during the summer.

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28.October.2012

The Miracle Blanket saved our lives! Both our babies loved it and it was so easy to use. I always buy one for friends with new babies. And, I don’t believe in any of these judgements people make about parenting choices-we all do our best and what works for one family may not work for the next. With each baby I remember going through so many days feeling uncertain and insecure-the last thing any of us need is someone telling us we’re bad moms for trying to get sleep etc…keep on loving your three munchkins and everything will be ok.

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Oh, you’ve brought back such sweet memories of those warm, little baby burritos all snug and sleepy! Sniff, sniff. I’ll always remember when the doctor told us “He was a lot more smooshed a few days ago!” Then the whold thing really made sense. It’s so cute how they start to get drowsy as soon as you start to wrap, isn’t it? You can just tell how much they love it.

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Amanda
replied on October 29th, 2012

Awww… baby burritos! We called my daughter “our little burrito” when she was a newborn – she just loved being swaddled the first few months.

And then her little brother loved it until he was almost a year old! Add in the fact that he was super-long for his age, and we were getting pretty desperate to find something big enough to contain him!

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replied on October 29th, 2012

that’s funny, we always called our little ones “chalupas” when they were swaddled, it just seemed so fitting!

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replied on October 29th, 2012

A good friend from Mexico calls swaddled babies “tamales.” :)

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29.October.2012

we swaddled our son from day one. at first we didn’t do it tightly enough and then my husband became a master swaddler and that was his job every night before bed. The happiest baby on the block was a great read for us, too. It helped me think like a baby and understand the world from a newborn’s perspective. I think everyone should think of the newborn – 3 months stage as the “fourth trimester”.

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29.October.2012

I LOVE swaddling and to me anyone who doesn’t do it or support it, hasn’t done the research or hasn’t used the technique (or maybe they had an easy baby). I’m a RN in a NICU and this is how I learned about it. Some of our babies who are out of control on a warmer will settle down just by being wrapped. It provides security and comfort. I don’t have any children yet, but I’m pregnant. I plan on swaddling my child until they can upwrap themselves then will go to a sleep sack. I always teach new parents about this trick and hope it helps them out!

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29.October.2012

I swaddled both of my children too. Like some of the others, I learned how to do it in the hospital after my son was born. Both of my kids loved being swaddled and would almost immediately calm down if they were fussy. I didn’t use any special swaddling cloths… just plain flannel receiving blankets, and after they outgrew those we graduated them into sleep sacks (which I loved!!)

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29.October.2012

Yes, swaddeling!! But I didn’t really do such a good job of it, either time – I couldn’t tell if they really liked it. But interestingly enough, my eldest (8 yo) self-swaddels at night, when he is asleep – rolls around until he is all wrapped up like a burrito!
The HBOTB – LOVED this book!!
Keep up the great blog and parent as you see fit.

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29.October.2012

Swaddling = sanity for us. Some people claim that they didn’t need to to or that their child hated it, but when we compared notes, my kids slept longer, on average. Mine were also sensitive beans, even though neither were colicky and were generally easy babies. It was just so hard for them shut out all the fun stimulus so they could rest their brains. We also read the 90-minute Sleep Plan. Written by a sleep researcher Ph.D type who then became a parent.It wasn’t a how-to, so much as a “this is the sleep-awake cycle for your baby’s brain.” Super helpful.

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29.October.2012

Yes! The swaddle and Happiest Baby on the Block saved our lives! ;-) The sound machine-swing-swaddle combo was the secret to restful sleep, and the arms down swaddle trick was key for keeping our little one in his burrito of happiness. Haha! We swaddled until about 5 months, and then it no longer seemed needed, but man, it sure was a help!

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29.October.2012

Swaddling is the JAM! My daughter was early so she was in the hospital for 2 months, and so I learned from the best. Baby burrito! I love the Aden & Anais muslin swaddlers. Pretty pricey (I think like $40 for a set of 3 or 4) but they worked best for us and they were multipurpose, I used them for a bunch of other stuff.

I say do whatever you have to do to get some sleep. If people have something to say about it, they can come over and rock your baby while you sleep.

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29.October.2012

i swaddled : ) i learned it from my midwives before my first baby was born.
my kids are now 18, 13, and almost 8, but i swaddled them all.
the moro reflex is so pitiful ~ they think they’re falling when they can’t feel some snuggly boundaries {like the womb}.
i never used a name brand swaddler, just stretchy {cotton jersey} receiving blankets.
it made them happy & content as newborns, and i dare say that they have turned out to be happy & content kids.

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29.October.2012

Oh man, I wish someone had told me this when my kids were babies. Three out of four never slept well and I would have tried anything. Two of my daughters are now nursing students and I am going to make sure to tell them about swaddling if they don’t learn in their clinical rotations. If the nurses would have told me to try this with a fussy baby it would have made a huge difference in my sleep deprivation. Thanks for sharing, at least I will know this for future grandbabies!

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29.October.2012

Our daughter loved being swaddled. She was very powerful so by two months we were double swaddling her in a Miracle Blanket and regular swaddling blanket. In her swaddle she could put herself to sleep. Then she learned to roll from back to front and we took her swaddle away. That was about a month ago and she still can’t roll from her front to her back. Since she was able to escape even a double swaddle I felt like we needed to take it away for safety reasons. At first her sleeping was really bad, now she sleeps as long as before, but is still much harder to get to fall asleep. I miss the days when I could just put her down in her crib drowsy and she would fall asleep herself! I’m sure we will get back to there at some point.

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29.October.2012

In our tradition (I’m Chinese Indonesian), swaddling is a common practice, my boy only swaddled for 1 month, as he often kick the blanket away, but he was an easy baby after all, he still kicked blanket away now, haha…. we use cotton / muslim cloth since it is a hot tropical country.

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replied on October 29th, 2012

I loved swaddling both of my girls and they loved it too!

My mother in law, also Chinese Indonesian, HATED that I swaddled!! She would always go behind me and unwrap my oldest. Of course, this is the lady who told me to put my baby to sleep on her tummy so she wouldn’t have a “flat” face from sleeping on her back!

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29.October.2012

Awwww, the one-arm swaddle! My baby girl loved that too. I think we swaddled her until she was at least 6 months old. So sweet.

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29.October.2012

I actually was just checking out the Miracle Blanket today. We swaddled our first [with one arm out] and we loved the SwaddleMe brand for him. He loved being swaddled but he wiggled a lot in the regular receiving blankets and we were constantly redoing our swaddles. Now with our second on the way, special swaddling blankets are a must have! We were also taught how to swaddle at the hospital like many others commented.

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29.October.2012

I did swaddle my son for 3 months. When he outgrew his swaddle-blanket I looked for a bigger size.
I could not find any (I live in Germany), so I asked my midwife and the pediatrician and both said it is not good for babys to swaddle longer than 3 months because of their motoric skills. I stopped and my sweet sleeping baby stopped sleeping and started screaming all night. It was awful.
With the next baby I’m going to swaddle until it is 5 years old. I don’t care. Swaddling is genius!!!!

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29.October.2012

I Definitely swaddle! I’m also debating a new product called the woombie that just got great reviews on ohdeedoh! I currently use a miracle blanket, too, so I don’t really ‘need’ another one, but it looks interesting!

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replied on October 30th, 2012

We bought the Woombie Houdini for my son and we really liked it. It’s made with a less stretchy fabric than most other swaddlers so he wasn’t able to get his arms out and scratch his face.

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29.October.2012

Swaddling = YES!!! My hubby is a pediatrician / master swaddler and teaches all of his newborn patients’ parents how to do it. :) Our 3rd child, a daughter, is almost 6 months old and she sleeps in a swaddle blanket with both arms out now since she likes to roll over and sleep on her tummy. Up until she rolled, she was fully swaddled for sleep since birth and loved it, though she did usually pop one arm out! We use Halo Sleep Sacks after the swaddle blanket stage too. It’s so nice to know the blanket won’t come off and leave her cold or in danger. We swaddled & “sacked” our other 2 children as well – both boys, same ages as yours – and they turned out as normal as can be, lol! ;) Oh, and the swing was a lifesaver for our 2 boys who both had reflux. Magic, I say. Happy sleeping!

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replied on October 29th, 2012

ARMS OUT! Oh my goodness why didn’t I think of that! We have recently stopped swaddling our 4 month girl because she loves to roll her self over the moment I step away. I wouldn’t mind so much but with her horrible reflux I worry that she’ll be laying in a pile of spit of half the night. ugh! Great tip we’ll try that tonight!

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29.October.2012

I was surprised to see the topic of your Honest Monday, as in swaddling was something you had to confess to; here in Australia all maternity hospitals and baby health care nurses teach swaddling, its universal. I suppose some parents choose not to do it once they get home from hospital but most keep doing it. I certainly did. And that means swaddling the whole baby, legs included. I kept my second daughter’s right arm out because she sucked her thumb. The theory (and I think it’s backed up in the literature, although don’t quote me) is that when babies have their arms and legs waving about they feel insecure and have trouble sleeping/ staying asleep. Certainly, while they still have the Moro reflex they need to be swaddled (if you’re swaddling). Nothing like a big Moro mid-sleep to wake them up! I swaddled both mine till about 5-6 months then into a sleeping bag -I like the UK brand Grobag. Once they start rolling over (around 5 months) it’s hard to keep them wrapped. My littlest has just turned 2 (aargh, where did those 2 years go?!) and she is still in her sleeping bag, loves it. It’s all part of the sleep cues. I also tuck her in tightly with just a sheet. Mimics a cuddle.
Enjoy the peace and catch up on some sleep!

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29.October.2012

I have a one week old (doing a 4am nursing session as I type this) and I swaddle him for all his night time sleeps, it’s seriously the best thing ever.

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29.October.2012

I agree 100% with you on the swadding…and Happiest baby on the block. I had such a hard time with my daughter those first couple months. It wasn’t until a pediatrician family member mailed me the HBOTB DVD and miracle blanket that any of us got any relief. Obviously if it calms them and they look forward to it there is no harm in it (and plus it’s been proven to help) so if someone gives you the side eye give them the finger. Ha! Keep doing what you’re doing!

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29.October.2012

I find that the older generations in our families mostly finds swaddling amusing, like it is some kind of modern invention. My husband’s aunt said to us “Are you going to swaddle? Are you going to give birth in the water?” like it was kind of funny :) We swaddled for the first few weeks with our almost three year old but I felt like he didn’t need it because he slept so well. After the reading and research I’ve done I think I will swaddle longer with our next one, who is coming in a few weeks. I might try white noise more too!

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replied on October 29th, 2012

Didn’t they read the story of Jesus-“wrapped in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger”?

Swaddling is ooooold.

:)

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29.October.2012

Yes yes yes! I feel like I could have written this post! I’m a huge fan of swaddling too and swaddled all 3 of my kids until 6 months. Dr. Karp is awesome and I give his book for baby showers. I often hear people say swaddling just “didnt work” for their baby or that their baby got out of the swaddle and my first thought is always that they weren’t doing it the right way or tight enough. (I fully admit all babies are different but I think also that people are scared to swaddle as tight as is needed.). Yay, swaddling!

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29.October.2012

I didn’t realize some people were actively opposed to swaddling. Just this weekend I was at the fabric store looking for some cotton gauze to sew my own swaddle blankets… but I only found black, brown, and ivory.

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29.October.2012

I wish I had known how wonderful it was with my first two!

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29.October.2012

I started using the Miracle Blanket when my first was a few months old, and the hospital blanket wrap up wasn’t doing the trick anymore. My mom’s friend recommended it, and it was, indeed, a MIRACLE! Like you, the first night I used it, my son slept the whole night through, and I woke up hearing angels sing. It’s amazing what the first good night’s sleep in months will do for a girl.

We wrapped that kid for as long as we possibly could and he loved it. My husband was especially good–he calls it a “Baby Burrito.” He pulled so tight on those flaps that little holes started to form at the edges.

My second son wasn’t quite as easy early on, and he didn’t need the swaddle for as long, but we still used it some.

Now, I’m looking forward to using it again with my third, due in March!

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29.October.2012

I don’t have kids yet, but when I was little I used to swaddle my baby dolls. My mom taught me how…so I’m guessing she swaddle me and my siblings when we were babies.

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29.October.2012

I think swaddling sets a great foundation for good sleep. I also used the Miracle Blanket (and in the colder months, layered it with another swaddling blanket over it). I only use swaddling until about 4-5 months and then move on to a sleep sack. I don’t know if it is because my babies have been on the larger side but they don’t seem to need it after 4 or 5 months. I have had people tell me that their baby “hates” be swaddled and I always want to encourage them to give it another chance, especially if they are not sleeping.

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29.October.2012

I would have been in a mental hospital without swaddling! That DD was so sensitive and would react to the moro reflex by freaking out and yelling for 15 minutes…swaddling her was the only way she would get some sleep….All cultures swaddled children!

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29.October.2012

We swaddled our first 2 and now our 3rd. They all love it. Sometimes they think they don’t, but they do. We use Swaddle Designs. They are a bit pricey, but I have now used them for 3 kids and plan to hold onto them until my brother has children. I actually brought our blankets to the hospital this time since our 3rd was already mostly too big for the hospital blankets. I wonder if the closed mouth is the precurser to teeth. Miles was doing that at 4 months and sprung 2 teeth 2 weeks later. Mabrey’s a doll! :)

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29.October.2012

Oh, I swaddled my little one. Never even gave it a thought. She was an easy baby, but I still think swaddling helped a ton. I would definitely recommend it.

your little girl is so cute! takes me all the way back when my little one was tiny, oh, the days. They go by so fast.

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29.October.2012

A friend recommended the Happiest Baby on the Block while I was pregnant and I’m so glad she did! I was not great at swaddling using a blanket like the wonderful nurses at the hospital, so we used the Summer Infant Swaddle Me blankets every night until our baby boy was about 6 months old! His grandparents referred to it as his straight jacket but were amazed by how it worked.

PS – I just recently started following your blog and love it! I love your story on the underdog and I’m currently trying to find the right balance between motherhood and my career. I’m excited to continue to follow your story as I work on finding my path. Thank you for sharing and being so honest!

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29.October.2012

Hey Dana! Where did your new houzz book go- the bling one? I saw a new one and then a couple days later it was gone?

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replied on October 29th, 2012

I am always working on ideabooks to contribute to Houzz. The one you saw is one that is in the works. I forgot to make it ‘private viewing only’ at first. That’s why it was up. I switched it so that only I can see it until it’s complete. {I have to turn them in to editors before they are officially published.} So that’s why you saw it and now you don’t. Sorry for the confusion!

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29.October.2012

No one told me about swaddling with my first daughter and she didn’t sleep through the night until she was over a yr old! Bo wonder I had PPD with her! My second child, I swaddled from the beginning and did it for almost a yr. She slept through the night from about 3 months on. WHY didn’t anyone share this with me with my first!! We also used the swaddle blankets and called them her straight jacket. She still loves to be tucked in really tight and she is 4.5.

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29.October.2012

I wouldn’t have survived without swaddling. My son was a swaddle ninja and got out of every swaddling blanket we tried until we found this method: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K4VdZxwsu4. It was a lifesaver along with aden + anais blankets. We also love The Happiest Baby on the Block!

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29.October.2012

Our daughter has always been a horrible sleeper, and swaddling was the only thing that helped! I have a question for all you experienced moms out there…my daughter is now 11 months old and always sleeps on her stomach. Any way we can still swaddle her? She only sleeps three hours at a time and wakens easily

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29.October.2012

I swaddled my daughter and she liked it very much. She was an awesome sleeper, though, and I was completely spoiled. When I had my second child, my son, he HATED being swaddled and was a terrible sleeper. I tried everything with him and I don’t think he slept through the night until well over two years old. I could tell when I was still in the hospital after delivering him that he didn’t want to be swaddled because even as a newborn he was strong enough to struggle out of the blanket. The nurses kept coming in and re-swaddling him and he’d get out of it again. I told them that he didn’t like it and they told me that he was too little to like or dislike something. Ha! He came out opinionated and nothing has changed. He is 10 now and an AWESOME sleeper, although he still sleeps in as little as possible. He never even liked pajamas because they are too constrictive. I would buy him cute little pajama sets and find them wadded-up on the floor every morning after he stripped them off during the night. Finally I just gave-up and he sleeps in boxers. So, for me, swaddling worked for one kid and not the other.

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29.October.2012

I swaddled my first until he was about 2 months and could escape my A&A blankets and the SwaddleMe wraps were too small. I’m still swaddling my 3 1/2 month old in the SwaddleMe wraps b/c I bought the larger size when he outgrew the small ones. He has plenty of room to grow into them and I’ll continue to swaddle him with both arms in until he can roll (coming soon I think!) and then I’ll swaddle with arms out.

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I’m a swaddler. I have a 3 week old chilling in her swaddle right now! I love large square blankets for swaddling. I’m a big fan of muslin ones. My first was swaddled until she was about 6 months old and then she was happy in just a sleep sack. I’ll swaddle this little girl as long as she wants, too!

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29.October.2012

Hi! I am a new follower- I found you through YHL. Love your blog. :)

Anyway- I’ve swaddled my 3 and loved it!! They are all great sleepers! We also follow Healthy Sleep, Happy Child- my youngest is 9 months old & has switched to sleep sacks, but we discovered the woombie with her- and oh my! Love that thing. It was also a life saver while she was in the billy blanket for 5 days after birth- kept her warm and the blanket in place.

I also pass on my love for swaddling- everyone needs their rest! :)

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29.October.2012

THank goodness for swaddling. when I was a medical student I begged the labor and delivery nurses to teach me to do it well. That paid off bigtime when I had my own kids. My first stayed swaddled until almost a year and then switched to a sleep sac, my little guy started protesting at about 6 months and then went to the sac. I teach my new-mom and dad patients how to do it on the office now, too.

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29.October.2012

We didn’t swaddle all the time (didn’t need to) but we did when our babies were overstimulated. Worked like a charm.

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29.October.2012

I was taught to swaddle at the hospital but I read your previous post (before Mabrey was born) just at the time I was questioning myself about my son’s need for swaddling, all the people I knew had dropped swaddling at about 6 months but my son was having none of it. He was a happy swaddled nugget until 9 months old, refusing all attempts to ween him off it, reading your experience helped me chill out and not force him to give it up. Then one night he refused to settle down and just looked uncomfortable so I pulled him out of the wrap, he flipped over on his tummy and passed out, never needed the swaddle again. Thank you for the inspiring me to let him do things his way!

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