My Baby Hates Being Swaddled: Is It Normal?

baby swaddled

One of my fondest memories as a new mom was wrapping my son up like a baby burrito when he got home from the hospital. I practiced the swaddling technique a lot under the watchful eye of a spunky, red-headed nurse with a take-no-prisoners attitude. She had a towering presence -- over 6 feet -- and literally stood over me until I got it right in my exhausted stupor. She was adamant that swaddling was "best for baby."

Which is exactly what makes it tough for moms when baby hates being swaddled. With everyone telling you to do it, you find yourself wondering if it's normal to have a baby who fights the blankets at every turn. Now for the good news ...

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According to Ann Marie Schmersal, nurse practitioner in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Dayton Children's Hospital, a baby who hates to be swaddled is absolutely normal. Swaddling is recommended for newborns because it can be soothing as they transition to life out of the womb. It's a technique that has been used for centuries in many cultures, but that doesn't mean it's right for your baby.

"All babies are really different," says Schmersal. "Some like to be swaddled and others do not."

More From The Stir: How to Swaddle a Baby in 4 Easy Steps (PHOTOS)

Schmersal says moms shouldn't force the swaddle or think they're failures if their babies reject it (how hard are we on ourselves?). Here are some of her other tips:

1. Again, don't take it personally. It really comes down to individual preference. Your baby may fight it even if you're a rock star swaddler.  

2. Check your technique. If you really don't want to give up, here's a swaddle refresher: "Your infant should be swaddled in a light blanket with his arms in a flexed position (near his face and not at his sides)," says Schmersal. "Hips should be in a comfortable position and not swaddled too tightly so he cannot move. The swaddle should not come above chest level and there should not be any loose ends." 

3. Take a shortcut. Many moms prefer to use sleep sacks or swaddle sacks rather than blankets for swaddling. That's perfectly okay. You don't have to be amazing at baby origami if you buy a solution. Your baby may like the store-bought version better, too.

As for babies who are fighting the swaddle after weeks of happily sleeping into that burrito wrap, that's normal too. Many abandon the swaddle on their own between 2 and 4 months because they're more active and don't like it anymore.

If baby shows signs of rolling over, it's recommended you stop swaddling anyway -- as baby could end up stuck on his belly and suffocate.

Did your baby like to be swaddled?


Image via iStock.com/naumold

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