For the past week and a half, my formerly good-sleeping DD has been in the throes of what I can only think is the 4 month sleep regression (she's 19 weeks). Overnight, she went from doing an 8-hour stretch to waking every 2 hours and being much harder to settle.
We had recently stopped swaddling and I'm wondering if swaddling again would help with the restlessness. Except--while she's not rolling all the way over yet, she is rolling on to her side, and I'm worried having arms in would be a safety issue were she to flip onto her tummy? If we did arms out, I'm not sure it would really make any difference in her sleep.
What do y'all think?
DD2 loved swaddling and I kept both arms in until 6 months (actually let her legs out before her arms because she got too tall). I don't know that it was safe. It actually probably wasn't safe. But she stayed asleep (on her back) as long as she was swaddled tightly, even after she could roll. The entire time she was swaddled she slept a minimum of 6 hours straight, usually 8+. As soon as she became too big (strong) to remain swaddled she stopped STTN because she sleep crawls/stands... in our case, swaddling definitely, definitely helped with the restlessness. If I could figure out a way to safely go back to swaddling now (11 months) I would :)
I don't know what to tell you... she probably WOULD sleep better if you went back to swaddling, but it is generally considered to be unsafe to swaddle once they can roll? My husband is a pediatrician and he forced me to stop swaddling at 6 months because of issues with hip development.
DS is 4 months and he's started not sleeping as well either. I think if I tried to swaddle him now he'd freak out though. He like to suck his thumb. Personally if she can roll at all I wouldn't swaddle her arms. Maybe try just the legs?
What do you use instead of the swaddling blanket at the moment? A thin blanket tucked up to the chest? An extra layer of clothing? A sleep bag?
I of course can't speak from the perspective of a baby, but imagine when you yourself go to bed. You are used to a duvet or blanket on top of yourself, the very weight of the blanket over your shoulders make you relax, and suddenly you are supposed to sleep in just your pyjamas. Even if you are warm enough, how would you feel? Would you be able to just go to sleep? Or would you be tense and uncomfortable, trying to adjust?
I think babies work much the same. They are used to be being restricted when born...if you suddenly go from swaddling to non-swaddling that is quite a change, no? So, personally, I would swaddle with the hands out for a transition period, because I don't think good sleep is so much about restricting a baby after the baby have some control over their own limbs as providing a safe, comfortable, familiar feeling. After a while, graduate to a sleeping bag.
rparker--thanks, that's very helpful. If your husband is a pediatrician I assume if it were truly unsafe once they can roll he wouldn't have agreed to swaddling so long?
Siouxsie--I wonder if there's some intermediate thing you could do to help him?
Lovesong--we did transition her out of it by doing one arm out, then both arms out--it didn't seem to matter when she was in a peaceful sleeping stage. But now that she's restless I'm wondering if we should return to it. She had been using one of those swaddle bag thingies with the wings, so her legs were never really restricted. When we stopped using it she was just in footie pajamas. You make a good point about the weight of the blanket--I, for example, always have to have at least a sheet on me or I can't sleep. There's a scientific word for needing that sensation. I forget what it is.
Anyway, last night I swaddled her with one arm out in case she did happen to roll. She did sleep much better--a four hour stretch and then a five hour stretch. I'm not sure if it was a coincidence or not but I think we may try it again tonight.
I'm not sure. I think we do a lot of things with our own kids that he wouldn't professionally advise parents to do? I don't think that he has ever actively encouraged parents to cosleep, for example, even though I've shared a bed with both of our kids when they were infants and he'd be annoyed if I had wanted to put either of them in cribs in a separate room.
And while we don't try to do unsafe/stupid things we definitely do screw up sometimes... (e.g. DD2 went headfirst off her changing table into a diaper pail when DH was changing her @ around 4 months!) My cosleeping with DD2 was probably part of why he was comfortable with her being swaddled (she wasn't alone), but even with that I think that he would have been happier if I had stopped swaddling her even sooner.
I think it's one of those instances of "do the benefits outweigh the risks" that every family has to decide on a case by case basis. Another example being that he has seen/read cases of newborn babies suffocating while nursing in bed (mom falls asleep) but he still didn't feel that the chance of that happening was great enough to "make" me not nurse our daughters in bed (sometimes while still asleep) even though it made him nervous with DD1... for us the benefits of nursing on cue outweighed the risk of death? I guess my point is, don't assume that because someone is a pediatrician that s/he makes choices that are 100% the safest for their own kids. It's often a case of "the cobbler's children have no shoes."
Anyway, I'm glad that letting her sleep with one arm in got her a few more hours of sleep! And remember that if she's rolling now, you can look forward to her being able to sleep on her stomach in a few months which a lot of babies seem to like a lot.
Ha ha, I'm actually sort of dreading when she can flip all the way over because she hates being on her stomach. I've heard about babies crying because they flip over and can't figure out how to get back on their backs.
We swaddled DS until he was 9 months old - arms in the whole time, but legs out after 3 months or so. He was a super light sleeper and he hated, hated, hated being on his tummy so I didn't worry about rolling - if he rolled over onto his tummy in his sleep he would immediately wake up and start screaming.
We tried many times before 9 months to end swaddling and it just didn't work - he'd wake up every 20 or 30 minutes. Then at 9 months he learned to crawl, and no longer needed the swaddle.