A swaddle blog! Now with new footnote action!

February 15, 2006

Because ruminating about swaddling is all that I’m capable of during this dark dark time that is THE HEAD COLD.

So, swaddle update:

When last I swaddle-ranted, I swore to just resign myself to the swaddle and shut up about it. And hey, I’ve kept those promises. Mostly. We are still resigned to the swaddle – it works. ‘Nuff said. And here on Survivor: Child Island – where I may not yet be outwitted, but certainly am being outplayed and outlasted – I do what I must to survive.

Anyway, we’re at the point now where the swaddling is such a potent sleep cue (1) that her eyelashes begin to flutter the moment the tucking and binding begin. Sweet, sweet the swaddle is that guarantees the sleep…

Besides which, I’m now convinced that swaddling does not undermine my efforts to be a good mother. Because a) it gets Baby to sleep and SLEEP IS GOOD. And, b) I have met the Turbo Swaddlers and they are not us. I am fully confident that even if I swaddle Baby until she is eighteen I will not have parented as excessively as these people.

The Turbo Swaddlers, who have a baby that is fully one month older than Baby o’mine, are a couple that the Husband and I engaged in discussion recently and who, we learned immediately (because I asked, because my self-imposed blog rules about swaddle-obsessing do not apply in the outside world), swaddle their baby. OH GOD YES they swaddle their baby; indeed, said Mr. Turbo Swaddler, they have their baby swaddled about 80% of the day. Awake, sleeping, eating, you name the activity, that child is swaddled throughout.

That, my friends, is extreme swaddling. I am the first to acknowledge – nay, embrace – the fact that some forcible confinement (2) is necessary to baby-wrangling and to child-rearing more generally. But the full-time swaddle? That’s raising veal.

———–

1. Sleep cues and sleep props are a topic that the Baby Experts hold forth about at length. For those that don’t know: sleep cues, good; sleep props, BAD. Sleep cues are those lovely little hints that suggest ever so politely to your child that the time for sleeping is arriving and they should prepare themselves hence. A bath, for example. The putting on of pajamas. The sleep cue lets the child know that she must now settle herself and drift off quietly to sleep. Sleep cues are good, according to those who claim to know, because they do not get in the way of ‘self-soothing’ and other such good ‘sleep habits.’

Sleep props are those things that get your child to sleep. Period. No hints, no suggestions, no leaving it to baby to work out the whole sleep thing herself. They just get the kid to sleep. Like Ambien would, if it were ok to give babies Ambien, which, for the record, it is NOT. Like nursing, rocking, cuddling, and – yes – swaddling. They are, almost without exception, things that a parent does to or for the child. And so these are BAD because – the argument goes – they interfere with ‘self-soothing’ and so the development of ‘good sleep habits.’ (Yes, I AM deploying the scare quotes sarcastically.)

Sleep cues teach the child how to get herself to sleep; sleep props dispense with the middleman and get straight to the sleep. And they are, apparently, (like Ambien) habit-forming and so BAD.

To which I say: SO THE EFF WHAT?

First, the way I figure it, whatever gets the little darling to sleep is good. Except maybe Ambien. Or liquor. Anyway: SLEEP = GOOD. And second, who the hell doesn’t need sleep props? Nice cuppa tea, steamed milk, sex, Ambien, liquor – grown-ups are all over the sleep props. I don’t know that I, personally, have ever just ‘cued’ myself to sleep by putting on pajamas and laying down. I, and anyone with whom I have discoursed about sleep, have always relied upon sleep props. (I’m not saying which ones. Let’s just say that prior to pregnancy and breastfeeding, it wasn’t usually tea. Now, of course, it’s all about the tea.)

So there it is, my formal position on the issue of swaddling as a sleep prop. Embrace the sleep prop! But if it makes you feel more comfortable, tell yourself it’s just a cue and get on with it.

2.

Yep. That’s a baby jail. (What in parent Newspeak is now referred to as a play-yard. C’mon. It’s a pen. If you’re going to cage your kid up, call it what it is, and deal.) And yep, Baby’s in it.

Detained for dealing in sleep props.

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    { 9 comments }

    Jezer February 19, 2006 at 10:20 am

    Whoa–80% of the day? Veal, indeed. I chuckled when I read the warning on the packaging of the Miracle Blanket against excessive swaddling in order to foster normal social and physical development. I thought, “Oh, puh-leeze, who wouldn’t know that?”

    Well.

    Sleep, though? It is good. Very good. I’m wondering something, though (thinking of props vs. cues): Once our babies are able to roll over, the rules on “back to sleep” are loosened a bit. Alex’s startle reflex while lying on his back is what keeps him from sleeping soundly. Every now and then, I put him down for a nap on his tummy on a pallet in the same room where I’m working. Granted, he doesn’t sleep as long as when he is swaddled, but he sleeps better than when he’s on his back. I’m trying to figure out how I can transition from swaddle-weaning to tummy-sleeping once it’s not such a SIDS risk.

    I’m not going to really worry about it for a couple of months more, though.

    Her Bad Mother February 19, 2006 at 7:14 pm

    It’s so interesting that you bring up the tummy sleeping because my Super Awesome Mom friend was just saying exactly that – that she’d heard that babies who really respond to swaddling do really well on their tummies because it feels more secure, etc.

    But how do you get him down to sleep on his tummy? (The swaddle is E’s big sleep cue) Do you just wait ’til he’s really tired/sleepy/asleep and then put him down that way?

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