Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Swaddle Me

This is a guest post by Stewart, aka "Papa":

Move over David Blaine, Max has been straitjacketed for 131 consecutive nights. It’s an ugly truth that we new parents, who naturally embody only love and kindness, hugs and kisses, good intentions and better intentions, prefer to euphemistically call “the swaddle.” And Max has been swaddled every night since his first, when a nurse named Eboni bundled him up so tight I worried for his safety. You might think that fear would have prompted me to ask the nurse, “Is he okay? Can he breathe?”; but it didn’t. I had been a parent for all of a few hours, and every question seemed like a stupid question when standing before a woman who literally swaddled babies for a living. Of course he can breathe; keep your mouth shut and keep nodding thoughtfully.
The nurses showed us how to swaddle using poly-cotton receiving blankets with pink and blue stripes faded from too many washings in industrial strength washing machines. They had stacks of these blankets, so we ferreted a few out with us that we have since grown hopelessly attached to and will keep forever. The nurses told us: first you fold this corner back, then bring this other corner up over Max’s shoulder, then tuck this other one behind his back, and then do a bunch of other steps I’ve since forgotten. It was complicated. I thought maybe they were transforming the blanket into an exotic animal, like they do on cruise ships, like origami. But they were just turning Max into a big burrito. In fact that is what they called it, the “burrito roll.” The nurses wrapped him like that for three days until we left the hospital. Then we were on our own.
Jacob and I never really got the hang of the burrito roll though. Max would kick and cry (always the squirmer) and it was just such a bother. We had anticipated this depressingly obvious turn of events and brought down to Georgia with us a store-bought version of the burrito wrap that substituted large swathes of velcro for the nurses’ intricate tucks and folds. Ingenious. So ingenious that here we are four months later wedging a baby ten pounds heavier and seven inches taller into his store bought swaddle each night. Of course at some point over the course of those months Max graduated to the “large” swaddle size. On the customer reviews for the small size outnumber those for the large size by a ten to one margin. I interpret that to mean we’ve taken this swaddle thing a little too far. The next size up is no longer even called a swaddle. It’s called a sleeping bag.

But can Max sleep through the night outside of his cocoon? I fear that we’ll have to find out sooner rather than later. Let’s just say though that this great experiment will not be taking place the night before I have a big legal brief due, or when I’m due in court, or any other night that requires Jacob and me to get fitful sleep. Let’s just say that night might be a long night.

Wish us luck.


  1. I have always been intimidated by the swaddle. Will you help me Stewart?

  2. Absolutely Lisa! That's assuming your baby likes it (not all do). The key is that you have to wrap it ruthlessly tight; otherwise the baby will turn Houdini on you in no time!

  3. We tried to help Leander graduate from the swaddle by first leaving his legs out (for a few days), then one arm (for a week), then the other arm (for a week - with just the swaddle around his middle), and then, finally, we were swaddle free. Good luck!