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4 Month Old Can't Sleep Without Swaddle

Hi, my 4 month old baby boy, who is our second, cannot sleep through the night without being swaddled. Which has been fine until now, he is a very big boy and is growing out of the largest size swaddle. We have to use the ones with velcro because he wiggles out of them, he is pretty strong - he thrashes his arms (a lot!) when he sleeps which wakes him up without being tightly bound. His Doctor says his days are numbered with the swaddle and he needs to learn to self sooth. I have tried this week and he wakes every two hours, and then he wants a bottle, I know he is hungry when he wakes because nothing else will work- he takes the entire bottle quickly, just with the swaddle he would usually sleep through without needing it until morning. I am giving him enough food before bed, 7 oz plus cereal. I know he is exhausted maybe there is a way to slowly adjust him? Any suggestions? Thanks!

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Thank You! I told my husband of everyone's advice and it was his night to be up with the kids and he went ahead and stopped swaddling him cold turkey! I am glad he did, our baby got up twice with him, the next night I got up once with him and now he sleeps through the night. And when he does wake if it is later than 5 hours I will feed a bottle to him before the 5 hour mark I use a pacifier if he cries out. And last he does love to be cuddled up so I put him in footy sleepers and in a sleeping bag. Thanks again!

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Don't feel bad, I have a 9mo old boy w/ severe reflux (and various allergy issues) and we still swaddle his arms and use a sheet tucked into and wrapped around the crib mattress to keep him on his back. If he manages to flip over he ends up throwing up. Both my pediatrician and gastroenterologist are fine w/ this. To swaddle his arms I use those swaddle blankets from the hospital...they seem to stretch more and be able to be wrapped tighter than new ones. I too am worried/wondering how to get him out of the swaddle eventually when his reflux eases up b/c it seems to be the only way he will fall asleep and stay asleep as well. A friend of mine said with her son that they started breaking the swaddle by only swaddling one arm. Maybe give that a try.
My sisters 5 month old still wants to be swaddled and she is using something called the miracle swaddle blanket. I think if you google it, you will find out about it online.

Anyway, all of my sons docs have said many kids like to be swaddled up until 1 yr. At which point they said to just slowly loosen it at night and they will adjust on their own to not having it.


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Hey M. ~ my now 7 month old wouldn't sleep without being swaddled until he was over 5 months old. We quit swaddling him when he got to the point where he could turn over on his own, but to get him ready for it, I started leaving 1 arm out. But honestly, unless I made it so tight it seemed like it was going to suffocate him, he would work his arms out on his own anyway. But when I started to leave the one arm out he slept a little better. Then we worked up to both arms, but with the blanket still snug around his bottom half. Then we took it away completely. He's been sleeping through the night ever since -- well up until last week when he got his first cold & ear infection, but that has nothing to do with the blankets! LOL

Since he is eating when he wakes up, is it possible that he is going through a growth spurt as well? I know they do eat a lot more when their little bodies are growing. My youngest doesn't get the crazy appetite during growth spurts like his brother did when he was a baby. But big brother weighed 20 pounds at 4 months -- my 7 month old isn't even 19 lbs yet -- and I think that bigger babies tend to need more to support the rapid growth spurts than smaller ones. Just my opinion though from my experiences!

Good luck & be patient! Keep us updated and let us know how it turns out!!!

I had the same problem with my daughter. She had to be swaddled VERY tightly to sleep through the night because her startle reflex was too sensitive. She would move just a little and her reflex would go off and we would be up for an hour. It was horrible. I think I swaddled her until she was about 6 months old and could roll over on her own without any effort. She just couldn't sleep on her back without a swaddle, and until she could control her body I didn't want her on her tummy. The Kiddopotamus swaddles in the lightweight cotton are really pretty stretchy- try those if he is a big boy. My daughter is tall and thin so the large ones were too big to keep her tightly wrapped so we ended up using the small ones with the bottom cut out for her feet. It worked. I also have a friend (I am not making this up) who would use masking tape to keep the swaddle on her son because he thrashed so much and would wake up. She would put him in the blanket then wrap around his torso (across his chest with tape above the elbows but below the shoulders) to keep him inside.

Try a pacifier instead of a bottle every time he wakes up. He is drinking it for soothing he isn't necessarily hungry, he is probably taking the bottle because that is what is being offered. If he is getting too big to swaddle try a sleep wedge or positioner. But your DR. is right he does need to learn to self soothe and you'll probably have a few sleepless nights while he learns. Good luck.

My children are 4 and 2. My 4 year old is autistic so the swaddle is very important to her. What I did when she was a baby was used a slightly heavy blanket that had a little weight to it. That helped because she feels the security of the blanket. I didn't have this issue with my son. I used a blanket sack with him and that helped him. Now I'm not saying that your child may be like mine. Some babies just need the extra cuddling to feel secure. I would recommend a blanket sack or a weighted blanket. Yes, it's ok to put a blanket in the crib. Just make sure it is one that is designed for the crib. They do make them. Good luck and don't worry. Each child goes through this stage and they do grow out of it.

we had this very same problem and i thought we'd never survive. first of all, we used the "miracle blanket", you can buy it online, it is literally like a little straight jacket! but, they can't squirm out as easy b/c they are really wrapped up in it. BUT, if you're looking to get out of the swaddling all together, what we did was do it a little at a time. First, just one arm out of the swaddle, then once he's used to that, try two arms out, etc. until he's over it. hope this helps!

First off he's not REALLY hungry. He's drinking the bottle because you are offering it. You need to make sure he's fed in the evening well. Don't offer bottles after the last feeding he will become used to it and wake for them. By 4mo. he is capable of sleeping through the night with out help. So if he wakes up wait a while 5min. or more and than go in check on him don't pick him up. Just let him yell. he will stop. If he doesn't after 10min or so go in and pat him but don't pick him up.

Hi M., I think your son just want to feel snugly secure. Maybe you should try some plush, snug fitting footie pajamas. I know this helped us transition from swaddling to self-soothing with my first son. Just make sure that baby's room is cool enough that they don't overheat. Footies have the added benefit of keeping them warm if they kick the covers off. My little one used to wake up in the middle of the night as a Caleb-sicle because he was a tosser and always kicked the blankets off, so the footies were a god-send for him too.I can't guarantee that this will work for you, but it at least helped a bit for us. Good Luck!

I went through the EXACT same thing when my daughter was 4 months old. At her 4 month check-up her weight was almost at the limit for the bedside bassinet we had her in and the Dr said it was time to move her to the crib. I asked if it was safe to swaddle her in the crib as I could NOT get her to sleep more than 30 minutes at a time with her arms free and the Dr said - NOPE - get her out of the swaddle now. He said to go cold turkey and that she was old enough to handle it. My husband and I both work full time so we decided to start training her to sleep without a swaddle on a Friday night. The first night was awful with her waking all the time. Her arms would wave about and clunk her in the head waking her up time after time. What we learned to do was to hold her hands down kinda on either side of her head and she would immediately fall asleep. Every time she woke up we did it again and she would drift off again. It only took 2 nights! That week she slept without a swaddle in her bassinet and the next week we moved her to the crib in her own room. Now we give her a bottle every night before bedtime and put her in her crib. We no longer have to hold down her hands, she is able to fall asleep with out any troubles.
So if your little boy was sleeping through the night without a night time feeding try to resist giving him a bottle, I think it will just encourage him to wake up every night. Try holding his hands down, not tightly but just enough that they can't keep him awake, and see how it goes. Good luck!

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