Monday, April 20, 2009

Strait Jacket Weaning

Holy cow, LL finished his seventh month yesterday. We've managed to keep up with his professional photos for each of his month birthdays, so he had his picture taken on Saturday. When LL was born, my brother got us one of those frames that has a slot for a photo of baby each month up to a year, so we searched for an inexpensive way to be able to fill in those slots each month. We ended up joining the photo club at one of the big department stores; the photo sittings are free and we just have to pay for prints. We usually just get a picture or two for us, one for the grandparents, and occasionally we send a really cute one to aunts and uncles. The whole thing is usually less than $10/month, and it's really amazing to look back and see how much LL has changed in such a short period of time. Anyway, LL giggled for the entire photo shoot this time around, and he was so cute that the photographer actually asked if he could keep two of the shots for himself, to put in his portfolio. This month was also the first one for which LL could sit on his own, which makes taking photos a lot easier, and more fun for everyone involved.

In honor of being so big and grown up, LL decided that he was through with the baby strait jacket, at least at night. Until last week, LL was always swaddled at night and during naps. He almost always worked his way out of it by the time he woke up, but he really seemed to rely on the swaddle to help him to fall asleep. Over the last few weeks, though, he was increasingly trying to work his way out of it while awake. We would put him in his crib, drowsy and almost asleep, and he would spend the next 15 minutes trying to free his arms, after which he would cry because he was unwrapped. We also started to find him entangled in his blankets in ways that started appearing somewhat dangerous. (Several times, he had worked his hands and forearms out of the blanket, then used his limited freedom to push the still-tight blanket up around his neck. Um, that's not good.) As we approach summer in our mild-but-sometimes-agonizingly-hot part of the country, we also had to acknowledge that tightly wrapping LL in a blanket was going to be unpleasant for him very soon. So, last Monday night we started our No Swaddle Experiment. (And just in time, because yesterday and today we had our first freak heat spell of the season, with temps in the 90s, and I don't think I could have swaddled him when our house was that warm.)

Our plan of action: continue to swaddle for naps, for now, but stop swaddling at night. When LL has a bad night of sleep, he still remains remarkably chipper. But when he misses too many naps, watch out! Also, missing naps tends to make him stay up at night, but not the other way around. So, by continuing to swaddle him for naps, we're guaranteeing a sunny disposition, and giving him enough daytime rest to try to encourage good sleep at night. Once he's totally comfortable with the no-swaddling at night, we'll move on to naps.

After one week, things are going pretty well. Six out of seven nights have basically been the same pattern as before the No Swaddle Experiment. We spend a little extra time soothing him to sleep at bedtime (7:00), so that he's extra-drowsy by the time we lay him untethered in his crib. He wakes up once in the middle of the night to eat, usually around 3:00am. We have had to spend a little extra time soothing him after his middle-of-the-night snack, too, but he does go back to sleep, and stays that way until morning. (The question of why he suddenly thinks that 5:45 is "morning," rather than a respectable 7:00, is a separate issue.) The extra soothing time (and his new habit of eating really really really slowly) does mean that we're up for an hour or more in the middle of the night, instead of the 20 minutes we had grown accustomed to, but still... not too bad. (Note that I said six out of seven nights have been like this. We had one really bad night when LL decided that he didn't want to be alone. Between 11pm and 6am, he cried out for us eight separate times, and only remained quiet if S stood next to his crib with a hand on his tummy until he fell back asleep. But the next morning, LL had noticeable slits in his upper gums, so I'm hoping that one bad night was because of teething pain, and it will soon soon please for the love of all that is good in the world soon be over and those damn top teeth will finally come in. But I digress.)

One unarguable perk of LL being entirely bottle-fed these days is that Daddy can be on duty all night long while I get some rest. S and I have agreed to a schedule of alternating nights, with the small addendum that if LL sleeps through the night, it doesn't count. (We added that addendum after a week in which LL slept through the night every other night, only waking up on nights when I was on duty. Which also started our tradition of always telling LL that Daddy's on duty, in the hopes that it will make him sleep. Didn't work. Instead, he just stopped sleeping through the night for both of us.)

Even though I get to stay in bed all night long every other night, I still wake up when LL gets up, so I'm only getting a little more sleep than before. And it turns out that S is a real wimp when it comes to sleep deprivation, so even though he's only getting up on alternating nights, and he's only been doing it for less than a month, S is rapidly becoming a bleary-eyed basket case.

Thus, once LL is comfortable with the no-swaddling, we're going to be moving on to the elimination of the middle-of-the-night bottle. Now that LL has recently slept through the night several times, we know that he can do it. We just need to convince him to do it more often....


  1. Keep up the great work. Hang in there. Teething SUCKS! Glad Dad gets to help yout out. Thinking of you

  2. For some reason your post title made me picture LL trying to free you from a strait jacket. I don't know why (especially since I have no idea what you two look like!). :-)

  3. It sounds like it's going really well, all things considered. I hope the teeth pop through soon and that eliminating the middle of the night wakeup is an easy, simple process.

  4. Thanks for commenting on my blog! Anyway, I read in "Solve your child's sleep problem" that kids this age can only sleep a max of 10 hours at night. Experimenting with our kid it does seem to be true. He's 7:30 to 5:30 or 8:30 to 6:30....but if he's up for an hour in the middle of the night, he sleeps in for that exact amount of missed sleep to equal 10 hrs. Good luck with losing the swaddle. We ditched at 5 months... it wasn't easy.


Talk To Me!