Your midwife demonstrated his or her favourite swaddling technique while you were still in hospital. Your sister bought you the latest zip-up swaddle as a baby shower gift. Your mother-in-law swears that you should do it "this" way. But the reality is, your baby HATES being swaddled. So in a few days, you give up. It's not worth the hassle.
Here are some tips for why you should try again:
1. Little babies lose control of their limbs when they are overtired or may be transitioning between sleep cycles. Unswaddled babies may only get 15-20 minutes of deep sleep before they wake themselves up with the movement of their arms. Bringing their arms in close to their bodies helps your baby transition to sleep and between 45 minute sleep cycles.
2. The firm wrap of a swaddle, bringing their arms down close to their sides or across their middle, is stabilizing and comforting like a strong warm hug. Even toddlers throwing a tantrum often quickly find calm when given a loving, firm cuddle. Older children who struggle with sensory processing find weighted blankets help bring them calm. Same with little babies feeling the pressure of the swaddle.
3. You don't need the latest, expensive name brand swaddles. A simple muslin swaddle (preferably more than 1 metre square), when done correctly, easily gets the job done. They're easy to clean and light-weight. They can double as a mat on the floor for "tummy time".
4. Swaddling combined with Harvey Karp's other 5Ss to settle a tired or distressed baby is suitable for babies up to 5 months (until baby can roll from front to back on their own). Layering the 5Ss one at a time provides comfort and reassurance. Baby: "Even though I'm losing it, someone has got me. Someone is in control. Someone understands what I need."
5. Always swaddle your baby immediately when you first notice the drowsy signs. Do not wait till they are overtired when they will "hate" being swaddled and will fight against it the most. Begin your whole sleepy time routine at these early tired signs. Watch for
• pulling at ears
• closing fists
• fluttering eyelids or difficulty focusing – your baby might even go cross-eyed or seem to be staring into space
• making jerky arm and leg movements, or arching backwards
• frowning or looking worried
• sucking on fingers – this could be a good sign and might mean that your baby is trying to find ways to settle to sleep. (from www.raisingchildren.net.au)
Want to see a step-by-step of my favourite, slightly unconventional, effective method of swaddling? Click here.