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Ahhh, swaddles. What a wonderful gift to all parents they are. Liam loves being wrapped up tight like a burrito. So much so, that we probably swaddled him longer than we should have. The general guideline is that once your babe can roll over, swaddle time is over. Liam had rolled over once or twice, but he wasn’t doing it consistently, and was actually better at rolling from his stomach to his back than his back to his stomach. We also had him in his Snuggle Me Organic, which prevents him from rolling. Plus, having him right next to my bed at night, I felt okay swaddling him for a little while longer. Once he hit the six month mark though, I knew our time was up. I started researching ways to make the transition a little bit easier, and came up with a whole lotta nothing. Most of the advice that I found basically said “prepare for a week or two of hell”. Great. Luckily, I stumbled across the Nested Bean Zen Sack. I wish I had learned about them sooner, because I probably would have started this process months ago if I had. They also have traditional swaddles that would have been great to have during the early newborn days. (Noted for our next baby though!) What makes them so great is the little weighted bean bag on the chest of the sack. It makes your babe feel like Mama’s hand is right there on them, helping to calm them and reduce any startle reflex that they may still have. So, I’m sure you’re all wondering… Does it actually work? I can say, for Liam, without a doubt yes. Does he sleep as soundly as he did when he was swaddled? Not exactly, but I was prepared for that. Was it the several weeks of hell that everyone told me it would be? Absolutely not. On average, he wakes maybe two times per night. This isn’t a full on, everyone get out of bed style wake though. It’s just a “Mom I accidentally pulled my pacifier out of my mouth (again) and now I can’t find it” style wake. I pop the paci back in and right back to sleep he goes. We’ve been using the Zen Sack for about a week now, and every night he sleeps a little better with it. We’ve also found a few more tips, through some trial and error, that make the transition to un-swaddled sleeping a little bit easier.
- Keep The Bedtime Routine The Same
This is a bigger transition for baby than it is for you. Try to remember that when things aren’t going as smoothly as you had hoped. Keeping baby’s bedtime routine the same helps them have some sense of familiarity and indicates to them that it’s time to go to sleep. We’ve had a consistent bedtime routine for Liam since the day we came home from the hospital and it has really helped with his sleep. Around 7 pm, we give him a bath, put on pajamas and an overnight diaper with a more than generous layer of diaper rash cream, swaddle (or now Zen Sack), read a bedtime story, give him his last bottle, rock for a little while, and put him in his bassinet right after his eyes start closing. The consistent routine of concrete events helps him recognize that it’s bedtime rather than just nap time.
2. Experiment With Different Bedtimes
As babes get older, bedtimes may need to change. As a newborn, Liam didn’t go to bed until about 10 or 11. Now, as he has gotten older, he goes to bed at about 8. He sleeps much better with an earlier bedtime, as he isn’t getting “overly tired” now. Plus, we get some Mom and Dad time after he goes to bed! Woo hoo!
3. Put Baby Down Drowsy, But Awake
This used to sound like a myth to me. Every time I tried, Liam would wake up and just stare at me like “Mom, what the hell are you thinking?” and back to the rocking chair we would go. I heard the legends of how other people’s babies miraculously slept so much better when they started doing this, but it just wasn’t working for us. I had given up on the idea altogether until recently, Dad told me that he had been putting him down awake for weeks. Whaaaaat? I’m not sure what happened to make Liam suddenly okay with going down awake, but sleepy, but I’m not going to question it. And so you know, the legends are true. Putting him to bed awake has helped him learn how to put himself back to sleep when he wakes up at night. It’s glorious.
4. Put Baby Down Without A Pacifier
Pacifiers. Such a blessing and a curse. I wish we had started putting him down without it before we had to un-swaddle, but alas, I am a selfish sleep-loving mother who just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Now, I’m kicking myself. The idea is that if babe goes to sleep without a pacifier, they won’t need it to go back to sleep when they wake up at night. Great idea in theory, but it’s sooooo tempting to just give it to him since he goes down way easier with it. We’re starting to work on this tip, so I’ll update as soon as I see some change.
Like I said earlier, the Zen Sack is a gift from the un-swaddling gods. It’s super lightweight fabric, which is perfect for Liam as he gets really hot, especially when he’s sleeping. (Seriously, the kid is freezing us out of our own house. Sweaty little thing.) The little bean bag (we call it his hackey sack because yeah we grew up when hackey sacks were the coolest) on the chest makes him feel very secure and actually seems to help him fall asleep faster. Plus, totally irrelevant to sleep, but it’s adorable and he looks so cute in it. A lot of “holy grail” baby products seem like gimmicks to me (I get this from my dad who thinks that everything is either a gimmick or a conspiracy, including online bill pay) but this thing is the real deal. The Nested Bean has made our un-swaddling journey so much more painless than I was anticipating, and for that I basically owe them my life. You can’t put a price tag on sleep, Mamas!
How did you transition your little ones to un-swaddled sleeping? Share in the comments. You can check out more info on transitioning from Nested Bean here!
The Crispy Mama