The first time I learned to swaddle a baby I was in my local library attending a birthing class. My husband and I were given a stack of blankets, a plastic baby doll, and told to practice. I was quite proud of the little burrito baby wrap I created, totally unaware that it's so much harder to swaddle a real baby. In fact, there are some weird things babies do once they're out of the swaddle that make the entire process feel pretty damn impossible. As soon as you get one arm inside, the other one pops out. You think the baby is placed correctly on the blanket, only to realize one side isn't long enough to completely wrap around them. I mean, it's not rocket science, but it feels pretty close.
Swaddling simply means wrapping a baby in a blanket with their arms held down at their sides. According to the Mayo Clinic, swaddling mimics the coziness of the womb and can help babies sleep longer. Swaddling has also been found to calm babies and make them feel secure and safe. So you'd think every single baby in the entire world would be more than happy about swaddle time. Yeah, that's not always the case.
My son loved being swaddled, and as soon as he was wrapped up he would yawn and get ready for sleep. Other babies, of course, seem to fight against every single swaddle, which can make the entire process longer, more challenging, and kind of a pain. Still, it's worth it when you get to watch the strange things babies do once they're "free" from the constraints of a cozy blanket. Things like, for example, the following:
They Put Their Hands Up In The Air Immediately
This little baby has become a star for showcasing that quintessential baby "hands up" pose. Kaden is 5 months old and has this dance move down, you guys. Impressive, to say the least.
My son would put his hands up above his head after he was freed from a swaddle, too. It was just really slowly, like he was testing whether the swaddle was still there.
They Think They're Still Wrapped Up
It seems like more than a few babies take a while to realize the constraints of their swaddle have been removed. As a result, sometimes they remain all cute and snugly, like an adorable little bean.
They Grab Their Toes
All that time they spent sleeping, and away from one of their favorite toys (their toes), means babies need to get reacquainted with their tootsies as soon as possible.
They Wave Their Arms Around
It makes sense that babies feel the need to move their arms around as soon as they're out of a swaddle, especially because that swaddle has held them in the same position for a significant amount of time. My son would do a little swimming action when he was "freed," moving his arms around like a tiny windmill.
They Cry Or Laugh
Losing the swaddle can sometimes provoke an emotional response. No doubt the little cool rush of air now reaching your baby's previously cozy arms and legs is the cause of such an outburst. It might be a giggle or an audible complaint, but either way, your baby is going to have something to say about no longer being swaddled.
Put Their Hands In Their Mouth
Now that they have their hands back, they might as well taste them, right? Babies explore the world with their mouth and this habit, known as mouthing, is actually an important step in their development.
They Enjoy a Good Stretch
Is there anything better than a good stretch? Yeah, I don't think so. Dogs know it, cats know it, and babies know it for sure. Stretching is the best, dear reader.
Once that swaddle is off, babies will take the opportunity to have a full body stretch with their little arms reaching for the stars and their tiny toes curling. It's damn adorable, and looks so satisfying.
They Pee Or Poop
The sudden rush of air can make many babies release and relax their muscles. Yes, all their muscles.
When I worked in a daycare, so many of the baby boys, especially, thought it was hilarious to wait until their swaddles and diapers were removed before unleashing a big fountain of pee. Thanks, kids.
They Stare At Their Hands
I've noticed that more than a few babies will look at their hands as though they've never seen them before, the moment they're no longer swaddled. It's like they are saying "Hey, long time, no see!"
They Have A Wiggle Around
My son would always wriggle around the blanket once he was released from his swaddle. He looked like a little bear with an itchy back that needed scratching, or a worm that learned how to shimmy.
Like all baby sleep practices, parents should take the necessary steps to ensure their little ones are put down to sleep on their backs, with nothing near or around their faces, and that they follow safe sleep guidelines. Then everyone can rest easy and sleep, well, like a baby.