When Swaddling Goes Bad

Disclaimer: The title is a joke! I am not saying swaddling is a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing! It helps newborns get past that startle reflex in the “fourth trimester” and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have slept as well as I had without it. But there is a time to stop swaddling, and it’s when your baby starts rolling over. Read on to see what I mean…

There were warning signs.

In July, I kept waking up to Joey on his left hip. His back and shoulders would more or less be flush against the bed of the lounger, but his hips would be turned. As if somehow in the night, he lifted his butt and came back down at an angle. And every morning, I would brush it off as no big deal. He hadn’t even really rolled front to back yet—there was no way he would manage to roll back to front first, and in a velcro swaddle, no less…right?

I woke up on August 4th at 3:00AM to the answer to that question, which was Joey screaming at the top of his lungs from a face-down position in the lounger—stuck, with his arms pinned at his sides, and no way to flip back over or even readjust his own position.

Pretty sure that’s the fastest I’ve ever jumped out of bed. But I digress.

My baby was rolling. Maybe not consistently, but he was rolling. And so swaddling came abruptly to an end. The lounger was also too confined a space to put a rolling baby into, so using it as a bed also came to an end. All in the same night.

Early morning adorableness. ©Motherhood & Everything Else.

With sleepy eyes at 4:00AM on an early Tuesday morning, I was dragging the pack’n’play across the bedroom floor and digging through the clean laundry to grab the transition swaddle I had (thankfully) asked my husband to wash the previous week. Joey was put back to bed in the pack’n’play, in a new wearable blanket with his arms out.

I won’t lie, it hasn’t been an easy road since. The babe has gone from sleeping through the night almost every night to easily waking every 2-3 hours at night like a newborn again. At first, I think it was the transition; now, I think it’s the transition’s lingering effects, plus teething, plus developmental leaps. In retrospect, if I had acknowledged the warning signs that he was getting ready to roll and had been more proactive about transitioning sooner, the lack of sleep may not have been so profound. We had begun naps in the pack’n’play several weeks earlier, to get him used to the wider, more open space (as opposed to his lounger or swing), but it hadn’t been going as easily as we’d hoped it would. And my biggest concern was that if we moved him too soon, we wouldn’t sleep much…so of course, here we are a month later, still getting pretty shitty sleep on a nightly basis. Oops! Lesson learned! If we are lucky enough to have a second child, I will 100% be much more proactive about the transition from a bassinet-style bed to a more crib-style bed by 4 months of age.

Side note: despite best-laid plans, I’ve even been bringing Joey into bed with us for a few hours at night sometimes just so we can all get a little sleep. (I can talk about that later, though…will someone actually make me come through on this, please? HAH!)

It’s been a month now, yet it is still so weird…to look down at my baby sleeping on his side…or on his back, with his arms spread out all like a person. Overnight, literally, he lost his “newbornness”—and I didn’t even see swaddling as such a newborn thing until I was no longer doing it. It truly is bittersweet.

Of course, next up on the sleeping to-do list will be to get him sleeping in his actual crib, but I’m not rushing with this one. I joke that he’ll be in his pack’n’play in our room until he’s two. Mwa ha ha ha…

I would’ve tried to get a better angle, but I had to use flash and didn’t want to wake him! ©Motherhood & Everything Else.

One thought on “When Swaddling Goes Bad

  1. We swaddled at first too and went through the same thing with trying to transition our son our of the swaddle. We did not try the swaddle until the after the first few nights he came home from the hospital and when we did he slept so great!! We LOVED the swaddle!! When we transitioned him out of it it was challenging to figure out an effective way until we just stopped completely.


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