Swaddling Houdini

Updated: Mar 11, 2020

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Babies love to be swaddled because the warm snugness reminds them of the womb, which is what they are most familiar with as a newborn. This great big world is so new and different, and swaddling is just one thing we can do to help ease their transition into it.

When I was pregnant, I registered for all of these cute muslin #swaddle blankets. I had the swaddling routine down pat. The vision of my adorable little baby boy all wrapped up in an equally adorable printed muslin blanket was one that was in my head often. Can we say #FTMD (first-time mom delusions)! What I didn't realize was that no matter how tight I could swaddle him, and I could do it pretty tight, my little Houdini could wiggle himself out of it...even at three days old!!

In case you just had your baby and are literally still in the hospital looking at your little one all snug in his swaddle, not moving an inch, thinking you're a better mom than me...just wait for #DH (delayed Houdini). I swear, the moment you bring your bundle of joy home, he will become Houdini. It'll have you second guessing yourself as a mother, thinking that it was just the nurse's touch. No, your baby was just tricking you. Jokes on you, mom! (If you are able to swaddle your baby in a blanket and keep him there longer than a few minutes, please comment and leave your secrets for us all!)

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The hand was not staged. This is just baby Houdini getting out of his adorable swaddle blanket.

So what's a parent to do? Thankfully, there are many convenient swaddles out there today that use Velcro or zippers to keep your little one enclosed. Yes...they can still wiggle out of some of these ones as well, but it at least takes a bit more effort. My little Houdini had me running to Target the night we brought him home to buy new swaddles. Over the course of the first few months, we tried more than six different kinds. So, in an effort to save you some valuable time, here are my two favorites.

1. The Halo Sleepsack 3-way Swaddle

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This is the first one we used when Gideon was an infant. The hospital actually gave us one as a gift and we accidentally left it there (still a sore subject).

Pros: This one is great because it's versatile. You can swaddle the baby with both arms in, one out/one in, or both out as a sleep sack. It uses Velcro so you can swaddle your baby up tight and he cannot get it undone. It's also versatile for different seasons. The thicker one was great for our February baby because it added the warmth he needed since it's not safe to use blankets. We used the lighter cotton one once spring came around. There are also a large variety of prints, so you can still have a cute little swaddle just like in your mom delusions...uh...I mean visions.

Cons: Although the Velcro is great at keeping the swaddle in tact, a major wiggler (which we apparently have) can still get his arms out. There were many a nights that we put him to bed with both arms swaddled tightly at his sides, only to find him with both arms out an hour later (which is still better than the 30 seconds he stayed in a swaddle blanket). Also, if you've ever heard a large amount of Velcro rip apart, you can probably imagine why this swaddle is not the best for middle of the night re-swaddling. That riiiiiip sound could wake him right up.

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Here's Gideon with one hand up by his face. It was previously tucked down at his side.

Summary: This swaddle is very versatile and a great first option to keep your little one warm and snug in those first few months. I would definitely recommend having one of these to start using from Day 1. (And if your hospital happens to give you one...don't forget it there!)

2. The Love to Dream Swaddle Up and Swaddle Up 50/50

After the first two or so months, our little guy was consistently wiggling out of the Halo swaddle, so we knew we needed an upgrade. This is when we tried many, many different ones before landing on the glorious Love to Dream. This one was a God-send for us.

Pros: It allows you to swaddle your baby with his arms up, which is a more natural position for a baby to sleep in. Having his arms up also allows him to have his hands near his face, which is good for teaching him how to self soothe. My little guy loved this part! Even though a baby's arms aren't pinned down like they are in a regular swaddle, it still catches his startle reflexes. Another great thing about this one is that it has a zipper closure, which means the baby cannot, under any circumstance, get his arms out of it!

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It also comes in different fabrics to be versatile for all seasons, and there is a 50/50 version. The 50/50 version has zip-off sleeves. This allows you the same versatility as the Halo with having both arms in, one out, or both out. We used this one to transition Gideon out of the swaddle when he was ready.

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Cons: I found the package sizing to be a little off. Err on the side of going bigger if your baby is near the top of a size. The length was always more than enough for our little guy, and you do want it to be tight around the waist (it's very stretchy) but it got too tight around his neck long before he was supposedly ready to move up to the next size. That's it...that's the only con I can think of with this swaddle!

Summary: This swaddle is also very versatile and lets them sleep in a more natural position while learning to self-soothe. It also has a great option for when you are ready to transition your baby out of the swaddle.

In conclusion, the Halo 3-way Sleepsack and the Love to Dream Swaddle Ups and 50/50 are my favorites. For the next child(ren), I plan to start off with the Halo swaddle again as it is a good mimic of the womb to snuggle them up tight with arms close to their body. Once they start to wiggle out of it consistently, I will move right to the Love to Dream and stay with that one until we transition them.

Another suggestion is to have multiples. There is nothing worse than a baby used to being swaddled who then pees through everything in the middle of the night, soaking their swaddle. Now what do you do for the rest of the night? There will be pee. There will be spit up. Have. More. Than. One. Swaddle. You wouldn't buy just one crib sheet, right?

Swaddles really help a newborn baby transition from the womb, but not all swaddles are the same. There are many different kinds, and it's okay if it takes a little trial and error to find the right one for your baby!

~Ashley Bell, pediatric sleep consultant

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