Sunday, August 29, 2010

Can I Please Swaddle Your Newborn?

When I was pregnant, I used to surf the internet sunup to sundown, g.oogling baby stuff.  Researching cloth diapers, making my registry list, etc.  I don't remember how I came across it exactly, but I found out about Dr. Harvey Karp's book and DVD, The Happiest Baby On The Block.

There is used to be enough information on the website for you to pick up the essential techniques, and the DVD is pretty awesome.  This is the best baby-care information out there.  Every parent should be sent home from the hospital with one.  This is the closest thing to a newborn instruction manual that we get. 

The book goes into alot more of his theory of the Fourth Trimester, that newborns in their first few months are still essentially fetuses.  Given how small and floppy and nurse-and-sleep mine was, I tend to agree.  If you're preggo and have time to lay around and read about babies, I recommend the book too.  But if you've already gotten your newborn home and didn't get the instruction manual with him/her, the DVD is a quick lesson in the techniques to help calm your colicky and fussy baby.

Even when walking around with them in a sling or carrier won't do it.  That's when you know you're in serious trouble.

I was lucky enough to attend a workshop* at a local hospital, the night before I went into my hospital on bedrest.  I saw an except of the DVD at the start of the workshop, but the best benefit to the in-person training was having someone show you and help you practice how to swaddle your newborn.

I was the only one who showed up with a swaddling blanket, despite all the registration information that told you to bring one.  I got to practice on a floppy little fake baby, and it was really helpful, because there was a key mistake that I was making that the facilitator corrected for me.  I went home feeling confident with my blanket and my DVD, knowing that if she ended up with The Colic, that I knew what to do.

Sometimes, all a new mama needs is to feel like she's doing something right.  And sometimes, there is no greater time than when her baby, on schedule, at about 6 weeks of age, starts crying inconsolably from 5 to 9 p.m. every night.  That's when a new mama can really start to doubt herself.

But I pulled out the DVD and watched it, and made my parents watch it.  Then I pulled out the blanket and swaddled her up tight, and it worked like magic.

There is nothing like the feeling of successfully comforting your child.

Professional job - done by the hospital nurse.
It works so well that my dad went to work and started telling anyone who would listen about how great the technique is.

My girl is the master of wriggling out if you wrap her arms too close to her face.  I always had to make sure her arms were at her sides to get a tight tuck and make sure it wouldn't come undone.
I swaddled that baby morning, noon, and night.  Whenever I wanted her to sleep, I swaddled her.  In the evenings when she cried, I swaddled her.  Out of the bath, before the nursing and the music and the shushing, I swaddled her.

I used square swaddling blankets that I bought at Target, (apparently not available online) and they were awesome.  (You need a square blanket to get the best swaddle without extra fabric left over.)

Then she got bigger, and didn't want or need to be swaddled anymore.

DaMomma, as one of her giveaways for her blog anniversary celebration (I just can't bring myself to use the word), was giving away a set of Aden+Anais muslin swaddling blankets.  I had read about these when I first came across the HBOTB information, and they mentioned them at the workshop.  But they seemed pricey to me at the time.  I entered a comment, only wondering slightly what I would do with swaddling blankets since I don't have a newborn.  I was kinda hoping for the tickets to a show she is doing, but instead, I won the blankets.  (At least I don't have to figure out the logistics of getting to Boston!)

So, can I just tell you ....





They are huge, even bigger than the Target ones, so they would be really easy to use for swaddling.  They are a very light weave, so perfect for the summer.

Or the toddler that refuses to allow herself to be covered in a blanket of any kind (except when she is at Nan's house).  She is currently covered by the frog one, since that's the one she picked up to carry around first.

It started me wondering ... what if we could deal with toddler meltdowns by swaddling.  Somehow I think that might make it worse.  Dr. Karp also wrote The Happiest Toddler On The Block.  It doesn't say anything about swaddling as a measure to combat toddler meltdowns.

Somehow, swaddling a baby just seemed to work like magic for me.   It made me truly feel like a mother, like there was one thing I could do really well to help care for my baby.  Now she's bigger, and I don't have that one thing anymore.

So, does anyone have a newborn I can swaddle?  So I can try to feel like a confident mama again?  Maybe I'll just have to settle for trying to comfort my sicky, meltdown-prone toddler.  But I'll tell you, the blanket was even helpful for that at 4:00 this morning!!!

Thanks, Liz!

*This is the link I used to find the workshop close to me.  Unfortunately I can't seem to find any class listings on here - the website is quite different than it was two years ago.


Genkicat said...

My doula lent me the video and book and it was Sooo helpful. I just bought happiest toddler on the block too. I hope it is as magical as happiest baby was.

For me the swaddling helped but it was the swinging that did the trick - every time.

MommieV said...

For us it was the swaddling and the shushing. Swinging helped a little if I was swinging her on my legs like he shows in the video, she didn't like the actual swing as much till she was a bit older.
She never took a paci, so the sucking didn't help much. Occasonally she would suck on my finger briefly.

Didn't matter, tho, since the swaddling and shushing worked so well.

I used the CD with the white noise every night until the CD player broke. That was a huge help too.

FruitFish said...

I have that book and video on my amazon wish list :) It's good to know that it worked for actual mommas, and I may just go ahead and order it so I can add it to my library of reading materials while I wait to TTC ;)
Thank you very much for giving a real life review!

Funky Mama Bird said...

I loved that book, although we swaddled with a Miracle Blanket. We also have an Adain and Anais sleep sack of that fabric which Gunne loooooves. We switched to sleep sacks when he was out of the swaddle and he's now addicted to them.

MommieV said...

Betsy - did you notice what else she was carrying in that last photo with the blanket?


Serifm said...

You can swaddle mine, when he gets here. :-) He tried to make an early appearance this weekend, but we nipped that in the bud. Need to unwrap my Happiest Baby DVD and get to watching...