Love the Swing, Hate the Swing

Updated on September 24, 2009
A.G. asks from Glastonbury, CT
29 answers

Hello! I'm a first time mom on maternity leave for now. I have a 4 week old precious little girl who loves her swing. After having many sleepless nights, we discovered she would fall asleep in her swing when we could not get her to lay down in her bassinet; she would thrash about, screaming and kick off any blankets that swaddled her. The pedi recommended that we prop up one side of her to prevent her from rolling back and forth, however that didn't work. I purchased an infant stabilizer and have tried to lay her down in her crib but that hasn't worked either. As soon as you lay her down her eyes pop open and the screams begin. I am convinced she hates to be on her back. She currently takes her naps in the swing and sleeps in the swing at night. I am fearful this has started a bad habit (is there such a thing as a bad habit at 4 weeks old?) and don't know how to break it. Once in daycare, she'll be placed in a crib not a swing to sleep. Any other moms out there have this love hate relationship with the swing? Having the same issue? Any recommendations or advice?

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So What Happened?

Wow. Glad to know I am not totally off base here! I failed to mention the swing does not need to be 'on' for her to fall asleep, actually just placing her in the swing has her asleep in no time. I do have the Angel monitor w/ sensor pad but want to avoid placing her on her stomach for now. Thanks for all of the swaddle tips/websites. The pedi had us swaddling only the lower half of her body (by tucking the blanket into the sides of the crib) but maybe I should try the full body swaddle again. We have 1.5 months until daycare so I have some time to figure this out.-Although it is calming to know I am not alone! Thanks again everyone!!

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T.C.

answers from Boston on

This may sound odd but does she have acid reflux? My son was fine when sitting up but the second we put him on his back he was miserable. After some formula changes and medicine we finally got him to sleep on his back but it took a while. Good luck.
BTW, he is one now and perfectly fine :)

J.F.

answers from Providence on

My son slept in the swing for the first three months of his life. He just didn't want to be in the bassinett... once we moved him to the crib he seemed fine though. We mad the crib more comfortable than we should have (we bought an angel care monitor for a peace- of - mind) and everything was fine. I think that some babies just have different preferences, and those change as they grow. Good Luck! oh... and after the swing, we swaddled him until he was around 8 mos old. He just always liked to feel slightly confined. Still to this day he sleep right against the side of the crib to feel the bumper against him.

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K.G.

answers from Burlington on

We napped in the swing and also had sleeping in the swing. I would just recline it back after baby was asleep (better for breathing etc), and closer to actually sleeping in the crib. My youngest needed the movement of the swing, and gradually outgrew that need. She is almost a year now, and sleeps through the night in her crib.

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L.M.

answers from Providence on

Hi -
I know that someone mentioned this already, but have your baby been checked for Reflux? My son had to be propped up to sleep for almost the entire first year because of the Reflux... something to check...

Good Luck.
L.

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M.D.

answers from Boston on

Waking up during the transition from swing to crib is common, and the solution is just don't put her to sleep in the swing. It isn't good for a baby to spend a lot of time in a swing or baby seat. You will need to do the work of the swing, like cradling and soothing, but isn't this really your responsibility anyway? Try wearing your baby in a sling or other soft carrier, to provide the comfort your baby needs while still having the freedom to do whatever else you need to do. If she wakes up when you put her from the sling to the crib, cradle her, sing her lullabies, etc... I dont think the real issue is with the swing, but rather you may be lacking tactics for soothing your baby to sleep.

A great philosophy for soothing a cranky baby that I learned is something called CALMS: C-Check in with yourself, identify your own feelings about your baby crying. A-Allow a breath, take a deep breath. L-Listen to your baby, wonder what your baby really needs. M-Mirror Feelings, let your baby know you sympathize with their sadness, anger, etc... S-Soothe your baby, rocking, walking around, breastfeeding. A lot of parents think "Babies sleep a lot, it must be easy to get a baby to sleep!" when we all know it takes a lot of loving work from us.

Finally, I want to advise against sleep positioners. No matter how much it says on the packing that it is approved by SIDS groups, they are not safe. Your baby needs to be put to sleep on her back with nothing else in the crib, and that means no sleep positioners. They pose a suffocation hazard.

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J.M.

answers from Boston on

I'd just let her sleep in the swing (no such thing as a bad habit until around 6 months old). You can also ask if at daycare they'd let her sleep in a swing or, alternately, a bouncy seat in her crib. My son didn't have to be moving, but didn't like sleeping on his back either. We just put his bouncy seat in his cradle and he'd sleep there for a couple hours at a stretch. Good luck!

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C.T.

answers from Atlanta on

First I have to say that you should check the weight limits on the swing. Depending on what type of swing you have they could be dangerous at this age. I speak from experience. I did not know this but most swings have a 5/6lbs limit. Meaning that you cannot use until then. Our daughter was 4lbs. I always assumed they were safe to use right away. Two days after bringing our daughter home she was in the swing and stopped breathing. In the ER we learned the dangers. In young infants upright positions (as with some swings) can cause their ribs to press into their stomach causing reflux to go up the esophagus which can be choked on. We didn't use the swing again until 3 mon. It is recommended that the seat be in a "lay" position, or a cradle type swing.... ours was not, not adjustable and sat in the upright position. Anyhow, once there stomach muscles develop and are able to keep the food down it is no longer an issue. That being said I just read a book by Magda Gerber, she is against using a swing. Her premiss is that a swing is artificial, artificial movement, attention, and that far to many parents use one as a means to checkout, "babysit." I wouldn't go that far but it is an interesting read. Some babies don't like the movement, and swings are only recommended for 30 min. Ours would rarely fall asleep, she would play. You said that your daughter does like it, does sleep, but you don't want her to be dependent on it. What if you are out, without a swing. And you want her to sleep in her bed.
Try undoing the swaddle not all babies like to be tied up. Try dressing her in warmer clothes and let her to be free to kick... another Gerber/Pickler method.
Lastly, we do have friends whose three girls all refused to sleep on their backs. Their father is a general practitioner. The girls refused and knowing all the science as to SIDS they continued to let them sleep on their stomach. Not without precautions. They used the movement/heartbeat monitors. Our daughter slept on her back until she could roll over now she sleeps exclusively on her stomach.
Get her out of the swing. Try letting her sleep in the car seat, our Ped recommended this. You can rock her until she falls asleep. Does she sleep in a boppy? Many babies I know do, next to mom on the couch. This might work for naps but at night go with the bed/bassinet. Keep putting her in her bed. She has to learn to sleep there and she has to learn to self-soothe. Yes, it is hard but it will pay off in the end. You are doing yourself and your daughter a great service by teaching her to sleep in her bed.
Oh, one last thing we did with our daughter... for more than one reason. Our daughter loves her bed and will sit and play after waking up sometimes for an hour before crying out. She is very comfy in there. I read to let your child play in bed. At times when she is not expected to sleep. We all know the no toys no stuffed animals, blanket rule. However a few times during the day I would lay her in there with a few of the above to play. This is when a mobile comes in handy, we had two, I would clip on only at playtime. I would leave the lights on, even turn the radio on.... as to signify that it was not sleep time. I would stay close to comfort (only peaking in on her,) usually putting away laundry, cleaning, ect.. It gave her independent playtime, confidence and made her comfy in her bed and let her know that she could be there alone. At night remove the toys, turn lights off, ect. Night time bath, book, ect, signifies bedtime and the difference between the two but the comfort and confidence in being alone remains. It worked like a charm, one of the best thing we did. She slept in her bed at 12 weeks and from 8-8 by 16 weeks. She has no issues with her bed/room and to this day she does wonderfully playing alone and can keep herself occupied in her room for an hour.

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L.M.

answers from Boston on

Hi Amy,
My daughter was the same way for the first few months of life. I would get her to sleep and then she would wake right up as soon as I put her down. The only place she would sleep for longer than 10 minutes was the swing. My son was 2 at the time so I needed to be able to put her down to attend to him. So, into the swing she went. At about 3 months we started working on getting her out of it. I started turning the swing off once she was asleep to get her used to not moving when asleep. Then we started transitioning her once she was already asleep. I also started swaddling her really tight, as she would jolt the second we put her in the crib and wake herself back up. We used the Back 2 Sleep sleep sack with the swaddle feature and it was a lifesaver. I would get her in there and make it as tight as could be. This stopped her arms from flying back into her face and waking her back up the second her back hit the crib. She was firmly back in the crib by 4 - 5 months if I remember correctly. When she outgrew the sleep sack she was rolling over and would flip onto her stomach to sleep and slept much better from there. I think she just liked being on her belly better. She's now 2 1/2 and sleeps fine. It was hard at the time, but you will get through it. I never had the same problems with my son. He was just a good sleeper from day 1....so needless to say I was quite suprised when she would not sleep in her crib. Good luck!!!

D.B.

answers from Providence on

My question would be...is your daughter fully asleep when you attempt to place her down in her crib? If not...that may be why she's waking up, I know that if my son wasn't fully asleep he would do the same and wake up when I tried to put him down somewhere. My son went through this stage as well. He adored his swing. And would choose to sleep in it often.

I didn't fight it...I figured...where ever he slept was fine with me...even if it meant he slept in his swing at night.

I didn't have to go back to work so fast...so I see your dilemma with daycare.

Try taking your daughter to bed with you? This was both of you will get a good nights sleep. My son sleeps with me.

And as for daycare...see if there is a pack n play option, rather than a crib. Maybe that would help.

www.daniellewrites.webs.com

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G.E.

answers from Hartford on

Hi Amy,
We went through very similar experiences with both of our kids. I actually went out one night in a moment of utter desperation and bought the swing right off the showroom floor at Toys R Us with our son when he was about 3-4 weeks old. It is my opinion that your sweet little girl is right on track, they go through phases and she seems to be right on! You do what you need to do to survive in the early days. The swing phase WILL pass, especially if you're paying attention to make sure you don't just keep going to it all the time.

Another thing....of course I'm totally going against everything recommended, but both of our babies slept so much better on their bellies. I figured this out because the only way they would sleep would be snuggled up on my chest, so I slowly started trying them on their bellies in their cribs. I was nervous about it, moreso with my first, but I am a physical therapist and knew in my head AND heart that it would be fine. AND I bought a video monitor so I could watch him. (: Just think about it and maybe try putting her on her belly at a time when you will be awake to watch her. I don't know how long it will be until she starts daycare, but just remember babies are changing every single day, and it will be a while before there is any kind of routine. I am of the very strong opinion that there are no bad habits this early on. She will do fine, and so will you!!! My kids are 3 1/2 years and 8 1/2 months, and both are good sleepers in their respective bed and crib. Good luck!

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A.V.

answers from Boston on

Hi! Congratulations on being a new mom. It is wonderful and terrifying at the same time. I remember well. I have a 17 month old.

My daughter had a lot of trouble sleeping at the beginning (hated her bassinet, wouldn't sleep in our bed between us, etc) but gradually she grew out of it. We also found that putting white noise and later soft, comforting music near her bed helped her to relax and fall asleep. I think if the swing works for you, feel free to use it. Use whatever will work!!!! I remember we thought about bringing out baby swing up from downstairs because our daughter also was very relaxed in her swing. If you are concerned, feel free to ask her pediatrician or a nurse that works in the pediatrician's office. They are often very helpful and have lots of experience with sleep issues.

Best of luck!!!

E.M.

answers from Boston on

Love the swing. To start with swaddling should be done tight enough and in a certain way that they can not get out. Dr. Harvey Karp says it should be as tight as your waist band at the end of pregnancy and it is done in a down up down up fashion. The blanket should be square and with dimensions of 42x42. Swaddling should be done with their arms down at first it may seem weird for them, but they will get use to it and it is for the best, because right now they are not coordinated enough to suck their fingers or thumb for self soothing any way. A pacifier for the first 3 months will help with comfort sucking. It also prevents the moro or startle reflex from being activated. He recommends swaddling at least up until 3 months and then start by leaving one arm out and if their sleep is not interupted then the second arm and then not swaddled at all so it is done gradually to see if the baby is ready to give up being swaddled all together and again if the sleeping is not interupted then you know it is time. If he/she starts to sleep less then you know swaddling is still necessary. You should swaddle the baby in the swing as well but bring the feet out so you can strap him/her in for safety. The arms are most important in swaddling to prevent that startle reflex. Dr. Harvey Karp believes they are still fetuses for the 1st three months of life and it does make a lot of sense. Babies at 3 months start to coo and smile and are more interactive with the world around them. His theory is we as humans are born 3 months too early but because for survival our brains need to be so big we are ejected from the womb at 40 weeks or so. Therefor there is no such thing as spoiling a child up until 3 months or so. What we need to do is make them feel right at home back in the uterus. We do this by doing things like swaddling while naping or sleeping, because in utero they were tightly packed and now they are free to flail about and that startles them. If fussy and not sleeping while swaddled hold them facing out in a side or stomache position. Do not put them down like this though. The third thing is the white noise. play a sound machine or a radio on a static station pretty loud about a foot or two away from where they are sleeping this mimics the noise your blood made traveling through your arteries that they heard 24/7 while in utero. The fourth is swinging. In utero they were moving constantly while you were moving. Swinging should be on the fastest it can go and make sure they are calm already before putting them in it don't put a crying baby in the swing. Letting them be in the swing for sleeping is already cutting back on the movement time they had while in uter. Imagine being at sea for 40 weeks and then coming to dry land. It would be hard to sleep. That is what it is like for a baby. Difficult for them to sleep with no movement. He suggests doing this for the first 3 months and then try to slowly wean him/her by slowing the speed eventually to nothing and then move to crib. The final thing is sucking and again this can be done with your finger, breast, or pacifier. Sucking is comforting for them. Some babies suck in utero and can because they are tightly packed and can find there fingers easily. After birth they can not because they are not coordinated enough and end up frustrated and startled. This is again why we swaddle with hands down and use other methods of soothing with sucking. If you haven't introduced a pacifier yet and wish to do so or tried without any luck. Put it in the babies mouth and use reverse psychology by gently pressing down on the pacifier like it was going to fall out and that makes them suck more therefor keeping it in their mouth. A few days of this and they will have built up the jaw muscles necessary to suck on the pacifier. I hope this has put your mind at ease about spoiling a 4 week old and that you should love the swing. If you want the instructions to swaddling recommende by Harvey Karp email me at [email protected]____.com and I will forward them to you. They are on his happiestbaby.com site but are hard to find.

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P.J.

answers from Providence on

Amy, I am a day care provider in No. Attleboro. I have a 3 month old in my care who also still refuses to sleep in a crib. I could allow her to scream at nap time until she gets the message that cribs are for sleeping, but I prefer not to. Her Mom would like me to let her sleep in the swing and to be honest, I don't see the harm. I will admit that once she outgrows the swing, we'll probably be back to square one. Your choice is to deal with the difficulty now or probably to deal with the problem later. It's probably better to get it over with now while she's so little. The older and more used to the swing she gets, the harder it will be to break her of it. The most important thing for you to remember, once she starts daycare, is that you are her Mom and you have the right to tell the provider that you want the baby to sleep in the swing. You may be required to supply a swing if the provider agrees.
Good luck, P.

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A.F.

answers from Boston on

Wow, lots of great responses here. My 8 month old son went through this phase also. Like others have mentioned, he also likes to sleep in his car seat. Another thing that worked for us when he was really small like yours is sleeping in a sling or baby carrier--he really liked being close to me, and it was a nice way for him to catch a nap while I did light housework or took a walk. Just keep trying the crib/bassinet and eventually it will work! When I went back to work full time at 8 weeks, my son didn't really nap or sleep well in a bassinet/crib, but with the consistency at day care, he learned very quickly to do it. Congrats on your new addition and enjoy this time off with the baby...it will fly by.

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C.A.

answers from New London on

I see you got a lot of responses and I did not read through them all so I don't know if this will be redundant. When my daughter was little she did exactly what your daughter is doing. We tried the bssinett, and having her sleep with us in our bed. She did not do well with either and would wake up MANY times throughout the night. When she was 8 weeks old we accidentally found out she liked sleeping in the swing. We let her sleep there until she was about 4 months old. Then she was ready to transition into her crib and be on her back. You can not start bad habits at that age because they naturally change their patterns and what they do/don't like in the first year. I would just continue to let her sleep in the swing for a while and try the crib again later. Sleep is essential and if that's where she'll get it, then stick with it. I would talk to the day care provider and see if they will allow her to continue to sleep in the swing there. I worked in day care centers before and we let the children sleep in the swings. Hope this helped. Congratulations and good luck!

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B.G.

answers from Boston on

Wow, all I can say is been there done that both as a parent and as a daycare provider. All three of my children slept in a swing and they are now 24.5 yo, 20 yo and 15 yo and they no longer sleep in a swing. LOL. I also run a family daycare from my home and I feel your anxiety about your child going to daycare and only wanting to sleep in a swing especially with the new regulations the state is putting on us as licensed providers that states we cannot allow an infant to sleep in a swing (phooey). My grandmother taught me a valuable lesson years ago, you do not wake a sleeping baby unless the house is on fire.

Out of curiousity does the baby spit up alot if so she could have acid reflux and laying flat could aggrivate this and that could be uncomfortable for her and that is why she is waking up. Some children just love the motion of the swing and seriously you are a new mom and you need to sleep to so don't sweet it if the baby will sleep in the swing it is ok. I promise you she won't be packing her swing to go to college lol. Speak with the provider you have found about this and find out how she feels, she may be willing to work with you I know I am the type of provider who works with my families there are alot of us out there. Good luck.

Barbara

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M.K.

answers from Boston on

Congratulations!!!
The sleep/safety issue is really tough because you just don't know what is best for the little one and for you at the same time. So, my second one is almost five months and I had the same problem...she hated sleeping on her back. I let her sleep in her carseat until she was about weeks old. Literally, we went from waking every 2-3 hours to getting 6 hours stretches. In the meantime, I did as much tummy time as she could tolerate so she would strengthen all her muscles. She started rolling over around 10 weeks and then she was a happy camper in her crib because she could roll herself onto her tummy and now she usually gives us 9-10 stretches.
The swing is fine too...I know tons of moms who let their kids sleep in the swings and it is fine. I have also her great things about that monitor for the crib that sense if the baby stops breathing or anything like that.
Best of luck!!!

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N.R.

answers from Boston on

Amy,

When you have a new baby all the "rules" can be overwhelming:) Just remember that the important thing is baby is safe and you do what is best for your family situation.

As a mom to two babies that NEVER slept I can tell you I would have given my right arm for the sleep in the swing option:)

Newborns especially like to be surrounded/cuddled. I have read that being put into a crib or bassinett is the equivalent of you alseep in your bed and being put on the floor. With that perspective you can see why your little one likes the swing.

My son slept in a bouncy seat next to our bed until he was 4 months old. My daughter would only sleep in a stroller until she was about 14 months old.

some kids sleep great and go to the crib easily but others do not. Don't stress about the crib, do what you need to do for your baby and you and your husband to get sleep.

An exhausted mom cannot be as good as one well rested.

congrats on your new baby and welcome to parenthood...there will be many more things to worry about:)

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K.E.

answers from Boston on

I wish the swing would have put my kids to sleep! I say go with what's working. But I do wonder how your daughter is already able to kick off swaddling. If you have a really tight swaddle, she shouldn't be strong enough to get out of it yet. Check out the method in The Happiest Baby on the Block (a book with a great set of illustrated instructions, but there's a DVD too). You can also find abbreviated instructions for free online at www.eieiobabygear.com. If somehow your baby can get out of this swaddle when it's as tight as you can get it, then try swaddling her this way (per instructions) and then wrapping her in a Swaddle Me (which doesn't achieve a tight enough swaddle on its own but does have the advantage of Velcro). I was able to use this technique with both my sons and keep them confined to a swaddle (which added HOURS to their sleep) until 6 months (and my second son was HUGE and very strong).

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M.M.

answers from Boston on

When I FIRST brought my son home, he slept in the pack n' play basinette. After about a month, when babies typically recover from birth, he started being more alert and would no longer settle down in there. I started putting him in the swing and trying to transfer him to the basinette after he fell asleep, but that never really worked.

I cleared it with a baby nurse, and that kid slept in the swing for the first four or five months of his life. No problemo. After that he transferred to the crib without issue.

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J.L.

answers from Boston on

I am the mother of 6 month old twins. Neither one would sleep on their backs. They did for a couple of weeks but then they would startle when I laid them on their backs and wake up within 5 minutes. So I started sleeping them in their car seats. At about 4 months they got too big for the car seat so I slept started laying them on their bellies in thier cribs. They had good neck support at that time and could lift their heads perfectly. I was nervous at first but then I made sure there was nothing fluffy on their bed just the firm mattress with a sheet. People used to always put their babies to sleep on their bellies. My babies started sleeping much better immediately.

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J.T.

answers from Boston on

Is she comfortable in her car seat? I have a friend who had a similar problem with twins, but then was able to get the babies to sleep in thier car seats. Then when the babies got older she started putting the car seats in the cribs to get the babies comfortable in the crib. Now both babies sleep well in their cribs without car seats.

This process was recommended by a Dr. to my friend.

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D.S.

answers from Springfield on

My daughter was the same way when we got home from the hospital. Hated the crib and bassinet, but loved the swing, her car seat and sleeping on us. I was also fearful of starting a bad habit. One day she just seemed to be okay with the crib and slept in it ever since. She never did like the bassinet. She is now 3 years old and sleeps wonderfully in her own bed. She never has slept with us.
I also have a 4 month old who has slept in her crib since the day we came home. I heard that the microfiber sheets were wonderful, so I bought them for my younger daughter. I am not sure if this did the trick or she is just more content than her older sister, but I am not going to change the sheets now. You may want to try them and see if it works.

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R.K.

answers from Boston on

reflux? Our youngest slept in a swing and only a swing for months and then we he finally slept in a crib it was always on his belly bc he was uncomfortable to be on his back. Babies w/ reflux don't always spit up either. Something to discuss w/ your ped at your next appt.

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L.D.

answers from Providence on

I have 4 children. My last 3 all slept in their carseat in the bassinet or crib until they were 3-4mos old! They seemed to prefer the cozy feeling it provided. I transitioned them to the flat surface first at nap times then at night keeping them snuggly swaddled on their side with the wedges. They are all great sleepers now (12, 10, 7 and 4) and almost always on their backs when I check on them at night! Go figure, I could never sleep like that. I am a tummy/side sleeper! I guess its all what you get used too!

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C.M.

answers from Boston on

Oh, please don't worry. Your baby is only 4 weeks old!! All she knows is to be comfortable, warm and loved while she's sleeping. My second and third babies slept belly to belly right on ME for the first 8-10 weeks of life. They are both wonderful sleepers in their own cribs. If the baby sleeps well in the swing then go for it! No habits will be formed for a long time! Enjoy your new baby and congratulations!

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H.B.

answers from Boston on

My daughter was the same way. We gave up on the bassinet and bought an Amby - which is a baby hammock. I know other companies are starting to make baby hammocks, but I have seen a recall on one of the others (not the Amby). The Amby has been around for a while and is recommended by most Attachment Parenting doctors.

Anyways, we got the Amby, and we love it. When my second daughter was born, we didn't even bother with the cradle - she took to the Amby right away (she's now 1 year old and sleeps in her crib, no problem).

The daycare may be open to having an Amby there as well, OR, as so often happens with kids - your baby will sleep just fine in a crib at daycare even if she won't at home. The things my kids do for other people (and never for me) blows my mind. One of the mysteries of parenting, I suppose.

http://www.ambybaby.com/

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M.

answers from Providence on

Hi Amy,
Congratulations on the birth of your little girl!

I went through a similar period with my daughter-it was a short period, and I just kept trying the bassinet/crib until one day she was fine. I do have one question though, you mention that you swaddle her in her bassinet, my daughter hated to be swaddled. Try wrapping her a bit differently-she is still young enough that she does not turn over, so instead of the typical burrito styly wrapping the nurses teach you to do-try just tucking her in on the sides (not the bottom of the feet). That worked for my non-swaddle baby!!

Good luck! and remember, this too, shall pass!
M.

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J.M.

answers from Boston on

Hi Amy,

My son also would only sleep in the swing during the early months. He would always bust out of the swaddle in the crib and start thrashing and wake himself up. We made peace with it and when I talked to our pediatrician she said it was absolutely fine. The swing kept his arms contained so he was able to stay asleep longer. Over time as he grew he flailed less and we were able to swaddle him and move him to his crib. I have a girlfriend whose son would only sleep in his car seat so that's where he slept for the first 6 months. Again, her doctor said it was fine and is fairly common. Over time the spasmotic arm movements stop and they reflux less and less so that sleeping on their backs doesn't disturb them.

Good luck!

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