Transitioning out of the swaddle

After literally months of trying to get Willow to sleep peacefully without a swaddle I have finally succeeded!

The little one now happily goes to bed for naps and night time sleep with her arms out and a good thing too as the weather has gotten so hot that she would be dying of heat stroke if she were still reliant on the swaddle.

Here’s our experience on swaddles and getting rid of them!

I am a huge believer in the swaddle. Its a great sleep aid for little babies and Willow slept so well with it. Her back story is a little convoluted. As she was a summer baby she didn’t really enjoy being swaddled in the very early days due to the heat, but at around six weeks I found that she started having trouble staying asleep and some nights going to sleep. So I tried swaddling again and she slept so well that it became a part of our nightly routine.

We’ve had an array of different swaddles – The Aiden and Anais Easy Swaddlers (these are great. Very easy to use, they wash well and being made of muslin they are light weight), we have also swaddled with the Aiden and Anais Bamboo Swaddle Blankets (softest blankets ever! These are a must have for all moms and babies) and then finally the Tizzie Hall Swaddle (great for winter the fabric on these are a bit heavier. They are also quite unique in the folding method. We really enjoyed ours).

But when Willow started rolling over and with the summer right around the corner I decided it was time to pack the swaddle away. I started out by just swaddling one are and leaving the other free. Willow took to this so quickly that I thought getting her other arms out would be a breeze.

Not so. She wouldn’t sleep, the wouldn’t fall asleep, she would cry and scream until I eventually swaddled her in our usual method and said I would wait another week or so then try again. Weeks turned into months. Every time I tried to put her down unswaddled we would have drama. It was incredibly frustrating.

Then I stumbled across the Love to Dream 50/50 transitional swaddle. It looks a lot like the Zipadee Zip Swaddle (which is not available in South Africa), but the wings are removable. I found this feature was brilliant. I popped Willow into it with one arm in a wing and one arm out.

The wings are allow the baby to have some movement in their arms without giving them full range of motion. This partial restriction allows them to get used to the idea that their arms move in the night, but still give them the security of being swaddled. When you’re ready you simply unzip the wing to remove it and the swaddle becomes a sleeping bag.

We ended up sleeping with one arm restricted for about a month due to some changes that were going on in our house and I didn’t want to disturb Willow too much. She slept very well in the swaddle and I didn’t feel rushed to change the situation as the swaddle is very light weight.

When we were both ready I started unzipping the wing for naps only. When she was sleeping well this way I started trying it at night. At first it didn’t work – would unzip her arm and she would sleep for the first portion of the night and then struggle to sleep so I would put the wing back on. But as the week wore on she needed the wind less and less. Eventually we were sleeping all night without it.

In fact, the change was so gradual and gentle that it was a few nights before I noticed that I hadn’t put the wing back on.

So now we are swaddle free and sleeping well. I’m very proud of her and happy with the change. She has become a little tummy sleeper since doing away with the swaddle and its the cutest thing in the world!

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7 thoughts on “Transitioning out of the swaddle

  1. Chanell says:

    Hi there!

    It’s 3h50am and as you can see, I am scouring the internet for sleep solutions for my 6 month old 😉

    The swaddling is not really working at this stage because baby is constantly busting out of it and (hubby says) neurotic mom (I say I’m just careful) that I am, I can’t sleep, because I’m worried he’ll pull it over his head!

    I have also been trying to remove the swaddle at nap time, with much frustration, because he would only sleep for 15 minutes in 5 minute increments, as he wakes himself up with his arms out 😦

    So, here I am on your blog and yay! I’m not alone in this struggle! I went to the Love to Dream website, to order my 50/50 swaddle right away, but it says that sales of their products are prohibited outside the US… was wondering where you purchased yours? Maybe I missed something, it is 4h04 (now) after all and I am sleep deprived!

    Thank you
    Very tired mom

    • kierrynh says:

      Hi there! I’m so sorry to hear you’re not sleeping but as you said you are definitely not alone! I’m not sure about where to get the love to dream in the US. It was the closest product I could find to the zipadeezip here in South Africa. Have you given that a go?

    • kierrynh says:

      I see that you can’t do one arm at a time but maybe putting your baby in the zipadeezip and the doing a traditional swaddle with a blanket over the top so one arm is pinned and one is free?

  2. Chanell says:

    Egh, so embarrassed, I found the Love to Dream swaddle here in SA at Babygroup 🙂

    That’ll teach me to surf the internet at 4am with 1 eye closed!

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