Swaddle Escape Artist

We have a little Houdini on our hands….


lovely likes to bust outta her swaddle.


(We like the Aden + Anais blankets- super soft and very light fabric)

Swaddling is one of those things that always mystified me while I was pregnant –it seemed like putting a baby in a straightjacket- but after watching “Happiest Baby on the Block,” it all made sense. Babies don’t have total control of their limbs, so often they’ll flail their arms around while they’re sleeping and wake themselves up. Also, they’re used to being tightly cuddled in the womb, so swaddling can be comforting.

At first, we thought that she didn’t like having her hands swaddled, so we’d wrap the bottom part of her body like a little burrito and let her hands be free. And then we realized she doesn’t like her hands to be swaddled so that she can have the freedom to claw at her face.

So lately, we’ve been swaddling her entire body, which usually works out pretty well for a while, and then from her basinet next to me, I’ll hear grunting as she inches her hands out of the swaddle. Each time she wakes up to eat, her hands are up by her face, scratching and flailing away. This is totally random, but I can’t help but think of the scene in Four Christmases where Vince Vaughn takes over the swaddling…

“It would appear that my wife is better at making babies, than swaddling them, no? Yes?”

“Unfit mother!”

When Tom swaddles her, she stays burrito-ed a little longer, but when I swaddle her during the night, she almost always immediately escapes. Also, we’re still nowhere close to sleeping more than a couple of hours in a stretch at night. The first stretch is usually amazing –about 3 hours or so- and from then on, she’s up and ready to eat every hour and a half to two hours. Friends keep saying that it’s a growth spurt, but this growth spurt has lasted about 5 weeks 😉

Did you swaddle your baby?

How long did it take before your baby slept a little more throughout the night?

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  1. RhodeyGirl on February 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    I thought maybe R didn’t like to be swaddled because he always grunted himself out, but around 5 or 6 weeks we tried swaddling again and it was AWESOME. You need a straight up straight jacket like the miracle blanket. At first I thought swaddling was cruel, but once Raffi started sleeping 10-11 straight hours swaddled I realized that it made him feel really cozy even though he fought being swaddled.

    Don’t be afraid to rely on a crutch here or there to help you through these tough times. It’s really hard not getting consecutive sleep! And you can stop swaddling in 2 months or so when she is ready and has better control of her body. Good luck!

    PS- Don’t want to sound like THAT MOM but I just felt the need to share.

    • Amy on February 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Ditto to the Miracle Blanket!! Looks very straight jacket-like BUT it was a Godsend! A friend told me about it when my daughter was 6 weeks old and that night we got 6 uninterrupted hours of sleep! Both my kids would ‘fight’ swaddling for like 10 seconds then fall blissfully asleep. The Miracle Blanket is worth a try…don’t be scared to wrap her tight too. We swaddled until 5 months…lol. Some people say that is too long to swaddle, but she is now a super active soccer stud of an 8 year old and has no developmental delays or ‘issues’ from her early swaddled up tight days;) Good luck!

      • Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) on February 14, 2012 at 6:07 am

        We use a blanket for the the first swaddle, then use a ‘swaddler blanket’ with velcro as a second layer. She rarely can bust out and started sleeping9-10 hours a night at around 8 weeks (I give full credit to the swaddle!).

        Amy, H is almost 5 months and we’re still swaddling, too 🙂

        • anon on February 14, 2012 at 10:05 am

          You may want to be careful about swaddling for too far into baby’s development http://www.parenting.com/article/ask-dr-sears-alternatives-to-baby-swaddling.

          • Lesley on February 14, 2012 at 10:58 am

            As a pediatric occupational therapist, swaddling tightly with the legs straight out and together for too long can interfere with the normal development of the ball-and-socket joint in the hip as this article mentions. However, if given room for the legs to move freely and allowance for external rotation of the hip joints while swaddled, then hip joints continue to develop correctly. Our pediatrician checks our daughter’s hip joints each time we have a well baby check-up. We used the Aden + Anais swaddle blankets initially and as our daughter grew we switched to the Halo Swaddle SleepSack as there is quite a bit of legroom which allows the needed leg/hip movement.

    • katie on February 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

      Agree with the miracle blanket. She never got out of it until we quit swaddling cold turkey around 12 weeks when her startle reflex stopped. Any concerns with swaddling are usually linked with the legs not being able to move and hip issues. However, if you awaddle with the miracle blanket (or anything else, really) and they can hinge their legs at the hips to bend them all the way you are good to go. Swaddling saved our life! We are believers!

  2. Jenn on February 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Gina, I love reading your posts on Olivia as we adopted our daughter who was born a few days before Olivia. We do swaddle our daughter, but only at night. The hospital taught us a way to swaddle which is different than what all the books say; cross, cross, then pick up the bottom and tuck it around her back. She seems to stay in it pretty good. She is formula fed, which is a little different, but she will sleep for about 5-6 hours and then 3 hours after that.

  3. Natalie on February 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I swaddled, and learned all about it from ‘happiest baby on the block’ too. I must have been good at it, cuz he never got his arms out! We swaddled until he didn’t fit into the blankets anymore. And then magically at 3 1/2 months he started sleeping 12-14 hrs a night!

  4. Kate on February 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I swaddled both of my two kids (and will do the same for my third this fall) using the Aden&Anais blankets…but only for the first month or so. After that point, they got too big and too strong to actually stay in there. Enter the Woobie: http://www.woombie.com/

    Not only are the Woombies swaddle fool proof (there is no way my babies could break out with the zipper), but I liked (and my babies seemed to like) that although snug and contained, there was still enough wiggle room for them (sort of like being in the womb, I’d guess). The fabric is really soft and cozy, and it’s well-made. I would pay DOUBLE what I actually did–they are that awesome. HIGHLY recommend.

  5. Krystle {Fierce|Fabulous|Fit} on February 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Hey! Something I can give some advice on! 🙂 Someone may have already mentioned this, but I nanny a 3 month old, and he’s a little escape artist as well! And he always wakes himself up by clawing at his cute little face. I just started to swaddle him double. I swaddle him once and then do it one more time. I don’t think he gets too hot since those swaddles are so stretchy and thin, and his parents and me have both had much better success that way! 🙂 Good luck.

  6. Meagan N. on February 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Try a Miracle Blanket. http://www.miracleblanket.com/index.htm
    Seriously, they’re the best. Both my kids loved to be swaddled… and I swaddled them until they were eight months old because they slept better that way!

  7. Shaina on February 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    I like the material of the Aden & Anais too – but I have seen some Houdini-proof swaddling stuff that looks promising 🙂 http://www.summerinfant.com/Products/Nursery/Swaddle-Me—Speciality-Blankets.aspx
    Some have velcro, some are like stretchy sleep sacks that you zip the baby in…a few different things.

  8. Sara on February 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm


  9. Mali on February 13, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Ditto on the swaddle me blankets! Life save! My son was a little houdini too and that was.the.only way to keep him tightly swaddled.

  10. Vicki on February 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    We didn’t swaddle past the early weeks because I convinced myself they didn’t like it. I was probably wrong.

    My kids didn’t sleep all the way through the night until we were done nursing so 15-17 months. However, prior to that we were getting really solid chunks of sleep (probably 5 hours?) and than just cluster nursing until morning. That was probably by 6-8 months. We co-slept so I still managed to sleep enough.

  11. Lisa @ The Splattered Apron on February 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    My daughter loved being swaddled but was also an escape artist. We used the SwaddleMe velcro blankets which worked very well and sometimes we did a double swaddle with an aden + anais blanket over the SwaddleMe. She still managed to escape but it would take her a lot longer to do it. One morning, when she was about 3.5 months old, and we were only swaddling one arm in case she rolled, I went in to get in her in the morning and found she had wriggled out of not only the swaddle but of her long sleeve pajamas. It was so cute I had to grab my camera for a picture before she woke up!

  12. Mari on February 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I swaddled my daughter until she was about 3 months. She also ALWAYS escaped. I hear great things about the “miracle blanket” swaddle blanket from friends with newborn babies. I’ll definitely pick some up for my next kiddo.

  13. Nicole B on February 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Have you seen this tutorial? I swaddled my son this way years and years ago, the bigger and lighter the blanket the better IMHO.


  14. Jess on February 13, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    You have tons of great advice already, but you could also try the super swaddle:

    My little girl is 6.5 months old, and we just stopped swaddling her about one month ago. She started escaping from a traditional swaddle around two months, but then just woke herself up, so we read about the super swaddle and that worked for a long time. Our routine settled into: bath, massage, bedtime story, nurse to sleep, super swaddle. We got into the habit of swaddling her after she fell asleep after her last nursing session, and this got us the longest stretches of sleep.

    My babe is also EBF, and the length of sleep really will increase eventually. Those first couple of months are rough, but so worth it! One thing I tried to do to get more nighttime sleep was to try to get her to nurse at least every two hours during the daytime. (Day/night confusion seems to fade by around 6 weeks.)

    You are doing a great job, and it’s so great that you are sharing your experiences so honestly!

  15. Heather Eats Almond Butter on February 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Little one didn’t like having her arms swaddled and always slept with them up by her face. We swaddled off an on for the first three months or so. She first slept through the night at about 7 or 8 weeks I think, and I was actually sad as I loved those middle of the night cuddle sessions – our little quiet time together when no one else was around. She went through phases where she would start waking up again, but by about 12 weeks, sleeping through the night was pretty consistent. She now sleeps from 6 PM to 7 AM. It’s great, but I still sometimes miss those middle of the night meetings. However, they’ll be starting up again soon…x 2. 🙂

    • April on February 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

      I thought I was the only crazy one who missed the middle of the night feedings:-

  16. Allison on February 13, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Try the summer infant swaddleme Velcro wrap or the halo sleepsack with the swaddle. We switched to the summer one when our daughter started breaking the swaddle and then the halo one later. The halo one is great because the arms are removable for later on when you are trying to stop the swaddle. I never tried the miracle blanket, but heard good things about those too. Good luck!

    • Melissa on February 14, 2012 at 10:03 am

      I agree- the SwaddleMe can also be used chest down once Livi is ready for her arms to be free. That’s what we are doing right now as we heard that having that snugness around our baby’s chest and tummy is still soothing. The SwaddleMe blankets are also very affordable, around $10 on amazon, so you can get a few for when they get spit up on in the middle of the night! Nothing is worse than losing your only swaddle blanket to a midnight spitup!

  17. manda on February 14, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Hey Gina, I’m actually a nanny to a 2 1/2 month old baby (I take over for the night shift three times a week), and the family I work for has these amazing swaddle blankets.. They are specifically made for swaddling and have velcro that keeps everything in place. The baby can wiggle a little bit, but for the most part he never escapes. They also have another kind that doesn’t have velcro but has two flaps that go over both arms and under his body with another part to just wrap all the way around. It’s pretty amazing too! Hope that helps!

  18. amanda on February 14, 2012 at 12:13 am

    I swaddled our daughter for 5 months. We used good old flannel receiving blankets, nothing fancy. I’m also a PICU nurse so swaddling babies is my forte:) Don’t be afraid to make it really tight and if she still escapes try using two! Swaddle her with one first and then repeat the same technique with the second. Good luck! Also, most babies don’t sleep through the night until the double their birth weight:) Good luck!

  19. Alison on February 14, 2012 at 3:50 am

    Our son’s sleep patterns sounded exactly like hers until the magical 2 month mark. We moved him into the nursery at night and he started accepting the pacifier (we tried Nuk brand instead of Soothie and he could actually keep it in his mouth) and I credit those two things with him being able to sleep 4-5 hours at a time and only wake up twice at night to eat. Hang in there! Also, I can never get him to stay in an aiden + anais swaddle — sleep sack works wonders though.

  20. Jenny on February 14, 2012 at 4:47 am

    I swaddled both of ours. My son loved it!! My daughter hated it–the tighter the worse for her. She was also a more frequent eater–my doctor told ms it was because she was so active she needed more calories. By about 4 months she was going 4-5 hours during nightly feedings. Bit definatly got better!

  21. April on February 14, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Yes, we swaddled put guy and my hubby did a MUCH better job than I did too:- jack hated the act of getting swaddled and always managed to break free. But, he slept so it worked. We just took the swaddle off (at 14 weeks) and he is sleeping great. He has more control over his arms and legs now so that helps.

    I don’t recall how old Livi is, but I suspect she still needs to eat every few hours? My guy just started STTN (sleeping thru the night) at 14 weeks, but it is still hit or miss. Some good stretches and then some not so good:-

  22. Steffany on February 14, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I just want to say that the first picture of Livi up there is GORGEOUS (:

  23. Jen Correa @ Mom's Gotta Run on February 14, 2012 at 8:31 am

    I used the SwaddleMes for both of my kids. They worked perfectly and my kids actually got swaddled for a while. To this day they love being tucked in nice and tight. 🙂

  24. Chelsa on February 14, 2012 at 8:34 am

    She is beautiful just like her Mommy. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with swaddling, but it looks like you’re doing a good job.

  25. Alexandria on February 14, 2012 at 8:42 am

    We swaddled Sophia, and still do! I don’t think we would still be alive from lack of sleep if we didnt! 😉 She just turned 6 months and we still use the Miracle Blanket but just to wrap her arms, we leave her feet out because she’s a little to tall for the blanket now. Usually by the end of the night her arms are free but she doesn’t wake herself up as much anymore. Ever since we bought this swaddle blanket (when she was about a 7 weeks old) she has been sleeping through the night!


    This is possibly the best invention ever! .

    • Melissa on February 14, 2012 at 8:54 am

      We loved that one, too — but even moreso, the Woombie! 🙂

  26. Melissa on February 14, 2012 at 8:53 am

    She is so gorgeous!! We swaddled til 4 months and the Woombie was our savior — they cannot escape, period! Check it out. http://www.woombie.com — it’s genius!! Maya looked like a little banana in her yellow Woombie but seriously it is amazing and SO much easier than swaddling! Maya was also a face-scratcher and though their nails are paper-thin, they are still sharp on their delicate skin.

    At 11 weeks she began sleeping through the night — about 8 pm – 6 am. Since about 6 mths she has been sleeping 7 to 7. We read Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child — best baby book around. It’s hard with nursing — we ended up supplementing early on (at like 2 weeks) to keep her fuller since I didn’t make enough milk for her and then she would eat every 3 hours — some breast milk, topped off by formula. I really believe that helped her sleep longer — she wasn’t starving!

  27. Melissa on February 14, 2012 at 8:53 am

    And I nursed/pumped for 9 months, but point is, she needed more than I could give.

  28. Rhiannon on February 14, 2012 at 9:08 am

    I don’t know why but the first thing that popped into my mind when reading this was “Livi’s got way to much swagger for that swaddle!”. LOL 🙂

  29. Angie All The Way on February 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I used a regular blanket for the “initial” swaddle and then I used the velcro wrap that comes with the Halo “swaddle” sack (which btw is not effective on its own in the sack) to wrap around the swaddle from the normal blanket and it velcro-ed him shut kind of like swaddle duct tape 😀 It was the most effective thing we tried and it kept him tight!

    My little guy was up every hour-2 hrs until 8 mths and only napped for 30 minutes during the day…on.the.dot. You could set your clock by the 30 minutes. He nursed to sleep, which I thought was the problem (you know the “must learn to sleep on their own” debate). My milk was low anyway and I was supplementing with a bottle and he started sleeping through the night, miraculously it seemed, while simultaneously weaning from breastfeeding entirely at 8 mths. I just followed his lead. He was mainly only comfort nursing at that point and then he stopped “asking” and then drifted away in my arms bring rocked. They are all different as to when this magical night occurs, but mine didn’t give me ANY long stretches before this point and then it started with one night, followed by a few broken nights, then a sleep night, broken night and within a few weeks he was STTN every night! I will never forget how hard it is!

  30. Erin @ Running Tall on February 14, 2012 at 9:34 am

    You made my morning. Four Christmases is one of my favorite movies! I have absolutely no input about swaddling (I’m childless), but I have a huge love for Reese and Vince. “Mistletoe!”

  31. Sarah on February 14, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Ha! My baby is 11 months, and it’s still inconsistent. Sometimes he will go all night (7:30-5/6), sometimes he’ll wake once, sometimes twice. Six months seemed to be a turning point, but every baby’s different. Don’t get discouraged by those friends who claim their baby slept through the night at something crazy like 6 weeks! It will drive you crazy. Livi must just want lots of quality time with you:)

  32. Sarah on February 14, 2012 at 10:19 am
  33. Christina on February 14, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Both of my babies loved to be swaddled the first few weeks, and both were nursing every 2 hours day and night for 6 months….such a distant memory.

  34. Michelle on February 14, 2012 at 10:56 am

    The Aden & Anais blankets never worked for us – but the Ultimate Receiving Blankets from http://www.swaddledesigns.com did. My son was swaddled until he was almost 6 months old (a long time!!!), but my daughter stopped around 12 weeks when she started rolling over.

    As for the sleep – sounds about right. Just work on getting to nap/go to bed at a consistent time and with a consistent routine and she will get there. Babies THRIVE on routine!

  35. Debbie on February 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    My daughter liked to have one hand free of the swaddle. She would fight and fight until it was free, then calm down. Both my kids loved their cribs…I was hesistant to move them from the bassinet to the big crib, but once they were in it they loved it.

  36. Rachel on February 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I’m not am mother but I am a part time nanny of a two month old…and we have a “cheat swaddler.” It has a pocket and little peices of fabric to gentle secure the arms and then a long piece to wrap him up like a burrito.

    I LOVE this thing! He calms down faster post diaper changes than without it. It’s God’s gift to mothers…or nannys!

  37. Roselyn @ A Balanced Fit on February 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I swaddled both my kids. My first son was swaddled until he was 4 months old! My 2nd son started rolling from his back to belly at 3 months, so we stopped then.

    As far as sleeping more throughout the night…my first one was giving me pretty good stretches at about 6 months. I want to say he was STTN then. My 2nd son was a little more stubborn. I had him in our room (in his crib) until he was 9 mos old and he would wake up every several hours or so. I finally put him in his own room and let him cry it out a bit and 2 nights later, he was like a new baby…STTN from 7PM-6AM! But this was at 9 months.

  38. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola on February 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Wow, I feel like I’m learning so much about having kids from this family section! I’m not close to having my own, but it’s great background to have! She looks so sweet and peaceful all swaddled like that! Sorry she still isn’t sleeping much- hope that changes very soon for you! And that scene from Four Christmases is fantastic!

  39. aWickedRose on February 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    This is likely a repeat but have you tried putting mitts on her so she doesn’t go all “Fists of Fury” on her face?

    • Fitnessista on February 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm

      i bought some but we haven’t used them yet, because i was worried her hands would get hot. maybe time to bust them out

      • mary on February 15, 2012 at 3:34 pm

        I’m thinking our hospital used one’s that were super thin, like thin bed sheets material. They didn’t look hot at all.

  40. Laury on February 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    We swaddled for the first 2-3 months. She did okay but usually was out of it with the blanket ones. My mom always made fun of the velcro ones people bought, but I ended up using those at night after like a month and it helped! I was SO lucky Ella was a freaking (love her to pieces) menace during the day with all the antics, but she slept through the night!

  41. Kristin @ Wounded Fawn on February 14, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I am the swaddle master. I don’t have any children, but I am a nanny. You have to remember to swaddle quite snuggly. You just have to be able to fit your hand in the blanket just like you would fit two fingers under a dogs collar. With the aden + anais fitting your hand into a tight swaddle is pretty easy.
    Bundleme could be a great help in the upcoming weeks.

  42. Melissa on February 15, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Gave you tried putting socks on her hands or they have little baby mittens – that way she does not have to be swaddled. That is what we did with our twins. Worked like a charm! Good luck 🙂

  43. Jess on February 15, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Swaddling is awesome! We had to move on from basic swaddle blankets to SwaddleMe blankets around 2 months when my peanut of a daughter was big enough for them. She couldn’t escape from those. We stopped swaddling with her arms down around 5 months.

    I started getting 4 hour stretches at night around 7-8 weeks. Then it just kept getting better from there. There are always fun periods of sleep regression, but it will get longer.

    • Jess on February 15, 2012 at 9:54 am

      Oh and I wanted to add, 5 hours of sleep is considered sleeping through the night. As far as what I consider sleeping through the night, like not waking me up at all, that happened for the first time at 4 months. But often than not though, she still wakes up around 3 to nurse, so she sleeps 6-3am, then 3:15-7am, plus two day time naps.

  44. PrissyMA310 on August 11, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Four Christmases is one of my fav’s! I am a FTM, and my son has been swaddle birth to 3 months. At first he slept really well being swaddled, but he got really fussy closer to the three months. I then tried having him sleep with half swaddle and no swaddle, but this had an opposite effect on him, he would not sleep! Sleep for us was terrible! I did some research and came across http://www.SleepingBaby.com where I learned he was transition out of swaddling. I got him a Zipadee-Zip and it put him to sleep immediately! One of the reasons why I continued to keep in a swaddle suit was because he was so used to. My fear was that if I kept him tightly bundled, it could have an adverse effect on his hips and joints as he was growing. The thing I was really sold on with the Zipadee-Zip swaddle was the wing cut shapes of the suit. It was truly what my baby needed!

    • Fitnessista on August 11, 2014 at 11:26 am

      i’m so glad it worked for you! liv wasn’t a fan of it, so even though i ordered one, we didn’t end up using. i thought she looked like such a cute little wizard in the star suit though 🙂

  45. CassieV321 on July 26, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    I have been doing so much research into swaddling and the transition out of it for my baby. The best product I found to work for my little son was the wearable blanket by sleeping baby called the Zipadee-Zip. This is absolutely incredible in being able to soothe my son and aid him staying asleep longer in his crib.

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