Not long ago, I wrote about how we were still swaddling Baby Y as he neared six months. Well, things change fast in babyland, and not long after that post, we decided to give unswaddling another go.
Why? The kiddo's sleep suddenly took a nosedive, and we figured it couldn't get much worse. Whether teething had anything to do with it, I'm not sure (sleep guru Weissbluth maintains that teething itself does not disrupt sleep) but the timing was suspect. Baby Y was also trying to roll in the swaddle, which was new, and he sometimes cried when I put him in it. Also new.
There are two schools of thought on taking away the swaddle: gradual weaning and cold turkey. We said a little prayer and chose the latter. I put him down the first night thinking we were a little bit insane, especially because we only had four nights at home before starting our holiday travels.
There's no two ways about it: the first night was awful.
I nursed him like normal, put him in a sleep sack, took him into his room, turned on his white noise, rocked him for a moment, and put him in his crib. Swaddled, he would usually stare at his crib aquarium for a minute or two, and drift off.
This time, it was like the crib mattress was made of hot coals and I was putting him down naked.
I had decided to deploy cry-it-out only as a last resort; I just didn't think I could handle it, at least until sleep deprivation reached epic levels. Instead, I employed a modified version of a Baby Whisperer method, pick up/put down. If he cried, I picked him up. Once he was calm, I put him down. (It is as exhausting as it sounds.)
After about 40 minutes of picking Baby Y up, calming him, feeling his little body relax against mine, and putting him down, only to have him stiffen and howl as soon as he hit the mattress, I handed him off to Papa Y … who had him asleep in five minutes.
The same scenario repeated with the next wake-up, about an hour later. Except this time I lasted about 20 minutes before sending him in. The next wake-up, about an hour after that, I didn't even attempt to go in. My theory is that, in his worked up state, he wanted to comfort nurse, and the fact that I wouldn't give in was only sending him into more of a tizzy.
Finally, after that, he slept a few hours, and I did nurse him when he woke up around 2 a.m. And after that, he slept like normal until about 6, when we resettled him for another hour of shut-eye. He woke up for good around 7:15.
The next night, he didn't protest when I put him down around 7:30. I was giddy, I tell you. A few hours later, he required a pacifier replacement and a few minutes of shushing and went back to sleep. I nursed him around 2, and he didn't wake up again until 7:15. Night three was roughly the same.
Now that he's free to roll around, I've discovered that Baby Y is a side sleeper, just like me. He scissors his legs for stability and often clutches his pacifier with both hands, then drifts off. However, sometimes he wakes up angry after face-planting because he wasn’t able to stay on his side. This seems to be the main reason behind his wake-ups now.
Naps have been harder. Sometimes I've shushed my clearly tired baby for a half-hour, only to have him sleep for the same amount of time. A better nap routine may be in our not-so-distant future, or even nap training. We’ll see, though – he napped for two hours this afternoon, but he likes to tease me like that.
Ultimately, I'm glad we swaddled as long as we did, and I'm glad we let Baby Y be the one to signal that he was ready to go without.
Anyone else recently ditch the swaddle? How have your nights gone since then?