My baby won’t sleep without swaddling!
Many new parents decide whether or not to use swaddling as a way to help their baby sleep. It’s almost always a part of the discussion and a huge decision for new parents. There are those firmly in the no swaddling camp, and then there are those who swear by it. By wrapping your baby safely and tightly in a “swaddle” of a blanket, you are mimicking the natural feeling that they got used to in the womb. It’s a way for very young babies to feel safe and sound in their new, harsh “in the world” environment. Swaddling is only safe up to a certain age. What happens when you want to stop swaddling and find that your baby can’t sleep?
Swaddling itself serves a common, good purpose for many babies, and it provides very early life comforts. A baby won’t sleep without swaddle will inevitably cause stress for parents, and they’ll seek answers, so before you even start swaddling a newborn, here are a few things you need to know about the pros and cons of swaddling.
Swaddling’s pros include:
- It might reduce crying
- It helps your newborn sleep
- Reduces movements that startle your baby awake while they’re sleeping
- After the swaddling period, a baby won’t sleep without swaddle (in some cases)
- Blankets in a sleeping area become dangerous at a certain age
- In some cases increases instances of infant hip dysplasia
If you’ve swaddled your infant and enjoyed all the pros, and now you’re noticing that there are some cons cropping up, such as your baby won’t sleep without swaddle, it might be time to nix swaddling altogether. What can you do now?
1. Be prepared
If your baby won’t sleep without a swaddle, and you’re determined to wean them from it, it’s going to be a rough month or so for all involved. Be prepared to have a partner, family member, or friend help you during this difficult period, as you may have to adjust your child to life without the swaddle. Realize that you may miss some sleep during this period, so keep on a healthy, energizing diet, be prepared for those frustrating moments, and remain as calm as possible, as your infant is already distressed from the lack of a swaddle. There’s a reason baby won’t sleep without swaddle. They’re dependent on that sweet swaddle for sleep. They’re experiencing distress, too, so the more prepared and calm you are, the better for them.
2. One arm out technique
If you want to go extra slowly in weaning from the swaddle, keep one arm of your baby out of the swaddle and let them have that one free. A technique like this gradually helps them to adjust to like with their arms free, and then gradually other areas can become free and allow them to sleep comfortably without that all-important swaddle. You can do an arm out of the swaddle for a day or two, or even a week, and then adjust them slowly to both arms out of the swaddle. Once they’ve slowly adjusted to a non-swaddle sleep state, they may move right onto sleeping without the swaddle.
3. Going slowly
Many parents find that their babies protest loudly when they’re first taken out of a swaddle, even with one arm. If your baby won’t sleep without swaddle, and no amount of comforting, cooing, and slow techniques work, you might have to give up for a couple of weeks and then come right back to trying again a bit later. While this tactic can be frustrating for parents, sometimes it’s better for your baby’s overall emotional help to take a step back and ease them into giving up the swaddle completely. And remember, your schedule matters. If you can’t afford the lack of sleep from a baby won’t sleep without swaddle situation, it’s okay to step back and wait a week or more to get things done.
4. Loosen the swaddle
Sometimes a baby won’t sleep without swaddle situation can be offset by a looser swaddle that lets them gently explore the world outside of the swaddle without taking away that comfort completely. The world outside of the swaddle means they’re not tightly wrapped in the blanket but may have the ability to move their own arms out of the swaddle. It’s a gentle way to let them explore that sleeping condition without forcing it on them completely. As they sometimes break out of the swaddle and free their arms, it’s more likely that once this happens they may be more likely to sleep once the swaddle is removed completely.
5. Rocking motions
If you’re going to try to break them of swaddling all at once, you’re going to need an alternative, and one of the preferred and most successful alternatives to swaddling is a slow, rocking motion. You can use this as you cradle them in your arms and rock them to sleep, or you can use a cradle to provide the slow rocking motion. By helping them fall asleep in a scenario like this, you’re showing them that they can fall to sleep without a swaddle. The more times they fall asleep without the swaddle, the better, so don’t be afraid to do this with simple nap times, too. What you’re doing is conditioning your baby to sleep in a variety of different ways, and this can greatly help a baby who won’t sleep without swaddle.
6. Don’t get overwhelmed
When a baby won’t sleep without swaddle, parents often feel overwhelmed with a feeling that they need to stop this situation immediately and solve it. In reality, it may take a week or more to wean your baby from swaddling and help them sleep normally without this condition. Since swaddling mimics the womb, it’s natural that your baby would find it pleasant. And then, of course, some parents skip swaddling altogether so they won’t ever have to wean their baby from this sleep state.
7. Go slow
If your baby won’t sleep without swaddle, a calm, gentle, slow approach is usually best. Taking away the swaddle all at once may result in a week or more of a nightmarish scenario where you’re not able to sleep much yourself. Their swaddle being gone suddenly becomes a lot of lost sleep for you. And while it’s natural to want to fix the problem immediately, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going slower and easing them into the post-swaddle world.
8. Take care of your needs
Your needs are important, too. A baby won’t sleep without swaddle scenario can mean a great deal of stress for you as well, and while you do need to break your baby of their swaddle, especially around the time they’re able to flip themselves over in the crib, you don’t need to feel pressured to do it all at once. Simply by experimenting with letting them move even a single-arm outside of a swaddle can move things forward quickly. Your efforts will pay off eventually.
Whether you are able to get your baby away from the swaddle instantly, or you have to go more slowly, there will be one blessed day when your baby doesn’t crave the swaddle anymore. And that’s going to be an overjoyed feeling for both you and baby. They’ve relied on this method of falling asleep for a while, and it served you well, but like all, good temporary things, it’s time for the swaddle to go. Say goodbye to those precious, swaddled moments, and hello to a more independent, grown-up way for your baby to fall asleep. When you finally get there, all of your efforts will be worth it.