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. Morgan on February 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    We swaddled until Aaron was about 3.5 months when one night he pitched a fit and the only thing that calmed him was to not be swaddled. Try the SwaddleMe (at BRU) or MIracle Blanket. He always busted out of his Aden swaddles, but these were a little harder. I ended up using the Aden blanket for nursing so it wasn’t a total loss!

  2. shannonmarie (rawdorable) on February 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I tried swaddling my babies, but both of them were escape artists, too. We even nicknamed my son Houdini at the time.

    BTW, your little girl is gorgeous!

  3. khristi on February 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    None of mine slept more than a couple hours at a time until weaned, 18m and 2. It was fine, I have on plans to do any different with this next one as I know I’ll never regret those extra cuddles, even if it meant tired mama 😉
    As for swaddles, we love the woombie here. It is like a straight jacket and they can’t get out of it, it works amazingly well for us! Might be worth checking out! 🙂
    Oh and she is super adorable!!

    • Katie @ Pop Culture Cuisine on February 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      I second the Woombie! We have used every swaddle apparatus under the sun and I have loved a LOT of them, but the Woombie is far and away our favorite. In fact, we are still swaddling at 5 months, because frankly she still flails a lot and I won’t give up our sleeping through the night just so we can stop swaddling. Our ped. actually told us it was fine, given that she isn’t rolling onto her tummy yet. We use regular blankets to swaddle for naps, and then the Woombie at night. We also used the Miracle Blanket for awhile, but I got sick of dealing with all of the fabric, where as the Woombie is simply a pod without sleeves that easily zips up. What is also great about it, is it allows her arms to move around inside which she seems to appreciate, but it doesn’t wake her up.

      • Jen on February 14, 2012 at 6:04 am

        I third the Woombie! We got 6-7 hours of sleep once we started using it! Pure Heaven!

  4. Susan on February 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    We loved the miracle blanket. Used it for both our boys and neither escaped. We stopped swaddling around 4-5 months. Both were waking up 1-2 times per night by 3 months….however, there were nights that were MUCH worse and neither slept all night until around 9 months.

    • Meagan on February 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Ditto on the Miracle Blanket! We swaddled Claire until 7 months or so.

  5. KindraC on February 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    My daughter (10 weeks) is a swaddle bunny. We live in Orlando, so in the beginning I used the Aden + Anais swaddle blankets as well because they were a light muslin…but because they’re so light and sorta stretchy they didn’t hold as well. We switched to a light cotton blanket, and now she’ll stay swaddled for hours…it’s pretty much amazeballs. Happiest Baby on the Block, for sure!

  6. Rebecca on February 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I just do the half swaddle thing, more for warm then anything else. Max was doing the houdini thing on day one so he wears hand-socks to prevent him from making a mess out of his face.

  7. Kristen on February 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    You will probably not like my advice, but I think you should considering having her sleep in the nursery. You are probably waking the moment she makes noise (or even sooner, since you can probably hear her moving). While she is very possibly hungry, she also may not be and may just be stirring and would settle back to sleep if given the opportunity.

    I only suggest this because my experience with both my children was that once I moved them in to their nurseries (which I dreaded), their sleeping seemed to improve a LOT! Lol. In retrospect I know I was picking them up too soon. I eventually, with the support of my pediatrician, turned off the baby monitor at night. I could still easily hear them crying, but I could not hear the grunts and sighs and 65,000 other noises that woke me up when the monitor was next to my ear. I think they were around 6 months, at that point.

    FWIW, I did NOT find waking every hour or two “fine” in any capacity. It made me so exhausted I just could not cope with anything! I would cry with little provocation and never had any energy. I love my little ones to pieces, but I sang hallelujahs once they started sleeping through and did not miss those middle of the night feedings at all.

    • Fitnessista on February 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      we’ve been thinking about doing that, because she makes SO many noises!
      and you’re right.. as much as i love the snuggles and extra time together, waking up every hour or so is rough.

      • Rebecca on February 14, 2012 at 7:45 am

        Sometimes between my husband and baby, the bedroom is a loud place! I was sitting in bed laughing because both father and son were making very similar noises at 2am last week.

        I still wake up with most of his noises, but only say in the first hour of sleepy time and in the last two hours. I tend to ignore them now, but it is really hard not to at least open my eyes for two seconds.

    • Michelle on February 13, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Second this comment! I use to think she was hungry but sometimes babies make little grunting noises in their sleep and you think they are waking up!

      • RhodeyGirl on February 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm

        I agree with this too. We moved R at 5-6 weeks to his own room and EVERYONE slept better. We also straight jacketed him from then until 12 weeks or so.

        • mary on February 13, 2012 at 11:38 pm

          I moved mine at one month because she outgrew the bassinet and needed the crib. Everyone slept better.

          I didn’t swaddle much past the time she seemed to want out, but she wasn’t a clawer. Don’t they sell thin little mittens to keep them from clawing their face?

    • Jen on February 14, 2012 at 6:06 am

      I agree! Once we started using the woombie and moved her into her crib, we all slept better! Swaddling has been used for centuries by almost every culture. I’m pretty sure cavewomen swaddled their babies too! 🙂

  8. Nikki on February 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    We used the Summer Infant swaddlers… they were a dream!

    Have you heard of the Wonder Weeks book? It’s amazing! I highly recommend it. http://www.thewonderweeks.com/

  9. Lucy on February 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    My son is 6 months and slept in 2 hour increments till 3 months. (the first stretch was 3ish hours as well) He is now 6 months and sleeps in 3 hour increments. I’ve tried to sleep train, but as soon as I become just a TAD inconsistent, he goes right back to 3 hour increments. I believe its because I went back to work and he eats just enough during the day to get by and attacks his mama at night. :))

  10. Katie on February 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I just love the word “swaddle” haha!

    The part in that movie was hilarious! I hope to be good at it one day! <3

  11. Kristen on February 13, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    More importantly than all that, can I just say that you have the most beautiful baby girl I think I have ever seen? Adorable picture!

  12. Leslie on February 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I also have a 5 week old! We started out swaddling her. About 4 nights in, we decided she liked one of her arms unswaddled. Like you, I’m a far inferior swaddler than my husband though, and after I would wrap her back up on the middle of the night, she’d be out of it in half an hour. The night we decided not to swaddler her at all (about 2.5 weeks), she miraculously slept one 5 hour stretch. I woke up in a huge panic, haha! I was sure she had been screaming for at least 3 hours and in my sleep deprived state, I had slept through it. But no, Chloe does not want to be swaddled. Now, I put her in a gown with the hand cover things (what are those called anyway) and then put one of those fleecy zip up sleepers on her and like magic, I can always count on one 4-5 hour stretch and one 3 hour. It’s heaven.

  13. Candice on February 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Use 2 blankets!
    Make a triangle shape with the first one. with the point towards you, then take another blanket and fold it “hot dog” in a rectangle and place it along the long side of the triangle (so the top) with about 2 inches of the triangle at the top— make sense? place live in the center take (your left side ) end of rectangle and wrap it over her tucking it under her left side (leave arm out) Take the other end and pull it tight and tuck it under her right side. then take the tip of the triangle and get her feet tucked up and then take the end of the triangle (your left side) tuck it, and wrap the right side all around her! ta da baby burrito!

  14. danielle on February 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Try the Halo SleepSack Swaddle!! It is so much easier (especially in the middle of the night!) to velcro them up in that baby burrito. My little one can get out of even the best swaddle, but with the sleep sack, he is rendered immobile. And as I type that, I realize that sounds awful, but he sleeps so much better when swaddled and he can’t wiggle around or flail his arms!

    • Emily on February 13, 2012 at 7:27 pm

      Totally agree on the halo sleep sack swaddle. My baby sleeps in 3-4 hour stretches since using it!

  15. Christie on February 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I have an almost 2 week old and I really like the Swaddle Me blankets with Velcro on the side. We picked up 2 extra ones at target this weekend for only about $10.

    I’m not sure if it’s from using those or something else but we have been gifted with a pretty good sleeper. She usually does 3 hour stretches before waking up to be fed. Sometimes she’ll even do a 6 or 7 hour sleep (okay so that was just one night, haha). Our only problem so far is that she’s still pretty confused about what is day vs night 🙂

  16. Lindsay on February 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I agree on the Miracle Blanket! I haven’t had a baby, but have multiple girlfriends who have had bundles of joy of their own. They tried doing the swaddle with the Aden blankies, and while the fabric is lovely, the swaddle doesn’t hold. Miracle Blanket to the rescue!

  17. Kristy G on February 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    We swaddled our son up until 4-5 months and we noticed the ones we kept grabbing for (during crying fits) were the velcro swaddlers. We loved any swaddlers with velcros and they helped us get throught those early months. He would always manage to get out of the regular swaddling blankets so it was fantastic to keep him nice and wrapped up in the velcro ones.

    He would wake up 2x at night up until the 5th or 6th month when teething began. From there on the waking up seemed more frequent with teething, growth spurts, vaccinations, etc. In our case, just when we thought he would get into some sort of sleeping pattern, there was always something to interfere with that!

    Your baby girl is precious!

  18. Rita @ Healthy Mom, Sexy Wife on February 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I think men are better at swaddling because they do it a little tighter. My husband said his secret was to have the end tucked under the baby’s body. After he showed me how to do it, no problems. 😉

  19. Mandy on February 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    We did the burrito thing with the legs out for his first 5 weeks or so, then we just let him be. He started sleeping 5-6 hour stretches at 6 weeks.

  20. Jen @familyfoodfitnessandfun on February 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    We tried swaddling our babies, but they always got out too! Finally, I found a swaddle blanket that had velcro to close it. It worked great! Our kids slept a little longer around 2 months. Hang in there, girl, it will get better, I promise 🙂

  21. Rachael on February 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I have a 6 month old and we used the Miracle Blanket up until December. Once you get the hang of it, they were really easy to use and worked better than blankets. Once my son started breaking out of them, we switched to the Ergococoon which has their arms in but more like a sleep sack…it turn into a sleep sack too when they are ready for their arms to be out. Hope this helps!

  22. Sarah on February 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Gosh, mine is still not sleeping. He’s 3 months old. He loves to sleep with his hands up by his face or on his lap, so swaddling those arms makes him angry. Last night we had an unheard of 4 hr then 3 hr stretch. Have you tried playing classical music or womb noise for her to sleep to? This worked last night, so hopefully it wasn’t a fluke!

    BTW – she is so precious 🙂 And isn’t sleep deprivation awesome? lol

  23. Laura Jane @ Recovering Chocoholic on February 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    I don’t have any swaddle-advice, but the picture of her is so adorable!!!

  24. Adrienne on February 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    I learned that it’s supposed to be a lot tighter than I thought was ok (as a first time mom I was afraid of breaking the baby). I always thought I was doing too tight, but then my sister – a neonatal nurse-came over showed me how to use 2 blankets VERY snuggly and my son loved it.

    • Tasha on February 13, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Our nurse showed us how to swaddle, and she said the key was making it nice and tight. My son loved being swaddled and would cry if he could get out when we didn’t make it snug enough.

  25. JennP on February 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Since my daughter was 3 months premature, I always go by her adjusted age (due date) when discussing milestones, which is right about when we brought her home from the NICU anyways! We brought her home Nov 3rd, 2010 and got the first 6 hour sleep stretch out of her on Christmas night (so it took about 7 weeks). On Valentines Day, we got our first 10 straight hours! Its been exactly a year since then and she still sleeps 10-11 hours every single night like clockwork. It probably seems like it will never happen, but she will sleep through the night, and it’s amazing once it happens!

    We used the Summer Infant swaddle sacks, which were the only ones she couldn’t bust out of! We stopped swaddling around 4 months.

  26. heather on February 13, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Sounds exactly like.my 5 week old- hates swaddling and loves to wake up every hour!

  27. Kara on February 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    You have the right technique, but it’s not tight enough. Put some brute force in wrapping her up (they like it tight) and she won’t escape. My husband is the one who taught me how. He would swaddle our kid like he would make a bed: TIGHT!

    Ideally, you shouldn’t see any lax in the fabric (we used the same blankets). We swaddled for 6 months and by the end of that, I felt like I could have tackled a grown man and swaddled him before he knew what was happening.

  28. Michelle on February 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    We love the Halo Sleep sacks, My daughter is even using them for naps now at 5 months, they calm her down and keep her cozy, she breaks out of the swaddle me kind easily!

  29. Alisa on February 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    We use the SwaddleMe with Velcro. He can’t get out of it and sleeps so much better! As for sleeping…sometimes he will go down around 9:30 and stay asleep until 2 or 3, which means we are up for the day between 6 and 7. Sometimes it’s 1. If it’s 1, we’re usually up again around 5 and then for the day between 8-9. Although he starts out in a co-sleeper most nights I pull him into bed with me and nurse there…so I’m not always sure what time it is exactly. He was 6 weeks yesterday.

  30. Madie on February 13, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    I agree with the comment about moving her into her nursery, so you can hear her if she cries and needs to nurse, but you don’t hear every movement and little sound she makes. There is absolutely no reason for her to nurse as often through the night as she is. This is not good for hers or your sleep. Maybe try a pacifier and “shhh” her back to sleep if she wakes before its time to nurse. Remember that you are the mom, and you have to teach her healthy sleep habits and most importantly how to self soothe….or you will have a mess on your hands…a baby that requires your attention at the drop of a hat. You can do this! Don’t ever see if as being neglectful or less of an attachment style of parent. Our children and babies need or guidance and molding.

  31. Anna on February 13, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    We swaddled our girl for 4-5 months. My husband’s swaddle always held better than mine. I think it’s because he was willing to stretch the cloth tighter. I was always afraid I’d make it too tight.

  32. Megan on February 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    My daughter is also not a fan of the whole body swaddle. We’ve been keeping her wrapped up from chest down when we put her to sleep, and that seems to be working for now. Have you thought about using a swaddle sack or maybe even just putting little mittens on her hands to keep her from scratching?

  33. Sana on February 13, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I am almost 23 and I think a swaddle would be cozy. Heck, anything would it’s 25 degrees out!!!

  34. Lauren on February 13, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    I don’t have kids of my own, but I was a nanny throughout college and swaddling was a LIFESAVER with one of my kiddos. If he wasn’t swaddled there were no naps and he was cranky as could be which equals no fun throughout the rest of the day. Just wrap her tight 🙂 She is adorable by the way!

  35. nicole on February 13, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    My first two kiddos slept 8-10 hours at 2 months then were sleeping 12 hours by 3 months…but they had their own rooms. Our third child has to sleep in our room and she only sleeps 6-8 hours if I am lucky but I think that is only because I jump up quickly to get her so as not to wake my hubby to has to work the next day. I highly recommend the babywise cycle. I know you had said you don’t like the scheduling thing but putting the little one on a eat, wake, sleep cycle is really helpful for them even if you don’t want to schedule her feedings. it helps them fall back asleep at night if they happen to wake up. Keep up the good work with your little one the more you get to know her the easier it will be 🙂

  36. E on February 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Try buying a Halo SleepSack. They’re genius; I doubt she’ll get out of it.

    I also think they make little PJs with built-in mittens so she can’t claw at herself, if swaddling fails.

  37. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on February 13, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    The blankets in the drawer look so beautiful and gauzy and light and beautiful…mmmm, they’d even be great photography props when they’ve done their baby duties 🙂

    We swaddled for months and months. Can’t remember exactly how long but as long as possible until she would break out of it. She liked it b/c it helped her sleep; we liked it b/c it helped her sleep!

  38. Kristen on February 13, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    We got sleep sacks at our shower. Some are made to keep arms in and some have holes for the arms. They just look kinda big and I know babies like to be swaddled tight so not sure how they will work.

    Also, it’s amazing how sharp babies’ nails can get even with regular trims and filing. Their little faces take a beating…along with parts of mommy!

  39. Christine on February 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Two words, Miracle Blanket. Its a wonder!

  40. Eve on February 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I completely agree about putting her in her own nursery, my husband made us do it at 3 weeks (it was hard for me) but really helpful. We also loved the miracle blankets, they were the best. A few things that I helped us get longer stretches. We had a baby nurse work with us for the first week at nights only, she told us to swaddle only at night and that would help her learn the difference between day and night. She also introduced the pacifier, not sure if you want to do this or not. But babies just want to suck, so she would offer her the pacifier if she woke up and was fussy. A lot of the time that put her right back to sleep, but if she spit it out that meant she was hungry. Hope that helps!

  41. Zorana on February 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Am I the only non-swaddler here? There is no set rule for raising babies… My logic was different. I saw swaddling as restricting. Even though I read and ‘understood’ the logic about it, I just couldn’t do it with my babies. They seemed so happy to be able to move their little arms and legs freely… They started sleeping 4-5 hour periods around week 6, which was wonderful. I remember that I felt like a new woman after the first 4 hour long nap 🙂 Livi is totally adorable!

  42. daniloudoan on February 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I do swaddle all three of my babies!!! They are amazing escape artists, these sweet little bundles of joy. My first and last were tummy sleepers so after a few weeks I could stop swaddling so tightly as tummy sleeping helps with the flailing and startling. I’m not necessarily advocating it, you have to do what you are comfortable with, but my boys were just so much happier on their tummies. They were my better sleepers. Part of it is personality, my daughter still wakes up evert night at age three! Looks like your doing a good job! Keep it up and I promise, one day you will sleep again!!!

  43. SHANNON on February 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    My little man is getting ready to hit the 4mo marker and we still do the 3-4 hr stretch thang. Although…a couple weeks back he pulled an all-nighter by sleeping 9 hours in a row!! I was so frightened that I missed hearing him at some point in the night (hard sleeper even with a monitor), but he was just as happy as ever when I picked him up! I think you grow more used to the sleep deprivation as time goes on, which I can handle. But these dark circles under my eyes gotta go!!! Hahaha!! Livi is SO beautiful!!

  44. Kate on February 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I used muslin swaddles until about 3 months, then I bought a couple of Ergococoons which were fantastic. Then to wean him off the ergococoon, I bought a locally made product called a Pekemoe (made in New Zealand). They were great too, have been lent to many friends and they all rave about them. My boy was bottle fed from a couple of weeks old, and he slept his longest stretch around 6ish weeks (on new years eve, wonderful timing!!). It was from roughly 8pmish until around 3.30am. After that it was usually only one night feed, unless there was a growth spurt or teething etc. He stopped needing a night feed around 9 months, but every now and then at 15 months he wants a bit of milk in the night.

  45. Steph on February 13, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Honestly, every child is so so different. My son is almost 22 months and still does not sleep through the night. He’s only done it about a dozen times since birth. At that age I nursed him about every 1-2 hours nonstop, 24 hours a day. It was so tough! Hang in there….most babies do start to sleep longer stretches by 3 months old. I hope yours does!

  46. Kelsey on February 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    I swaddled till about 4 months! THE MIRACLE BLANKET IS GENIUS! Our daughter loved that blanket. Now we swaddle with arms out with the halo sleep sack. We usually get 4-5 hour stretch then up every 2-3 hours and she’s 6 months old. Always go into the night hoping it keeps getting better and better:)

  47. Andrea of Care to Breed on February 13, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Everybody loves those A&A blankets. For about a month when baby is finally strong enough to bust out. I’m here to also give a shout out to the Miracle Blanket.

  48. ered on February 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm


    that’s not exactly what we used, but same idea: velcro = snug = happy = sleep 🙂

  49. britt on February 13, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    we did the same thing! the first two nights at home we thought our son didn’t like his hands swaddled but turns out that’s why he wasn’t sleeping. our doctor showed us some magic swaddle method which worked and we ended up double swaddling just to make sure he didn’t escape. the swaddle ended up being a love hate relationship for me.

    as for sleep, the one thing i wish i would have remembered is to stop comparing alex’s sleep to other babies. i would get so set on “fixing” his sleep issues so he would sleep like all the other babies his age that sometimes i would forget to just relax and accept him for him and just enjoy that stage. he ended up not sleeping through the night until he was a year old (we never did cry it out but did do the sleep whisperer method. LOVED.). i think the key is to just remember that she WILL eventually sleep through the night but until then, just enjoy the time you get with her when she’s awake. it’s all about perspective. i had to remind myself of this a lot or i just went crazy thinking about how little he was sleeping.

    she’s precious btw 🙂

  50. Sarah on February 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Man, part of me just wants to be swaddled. (I feel like I hafta admit it! It just looks comfy in a very constricting way…)

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