When I told David about my plan to break Luke of his swaddling need, he questioned why. He didn't understand why I was so anti-swaddle since it seemed to be working to help Luke sleep (and really helped Jacob sleep as a baby.) I didn't have a good reason that I could explain, I just felt like it was time for Luke to learn to sleep without it. In thinking about it, my reasons may not be the best.
First and foremost, I am succumbing to "the norm" or what I perceive is "the norm" for babies. When I talk with my other mommy friends, most didn't swaddle their babies much past the first week or so, and the rest continued just a little bit longer. They were able to lay their babies down to sleep and they slept. I want mine to have that ability. I want to be in "the norm."
Second, if we are away from home, I want to be able to put my baby down to sleep easily without a swaddling blanket in tow. This wasn't the case with Jacob. Once he was 2 months old, he was too big for the standard receiving blanket, so we bought a Miracle Blanket and it was used for every nap and nighttime sleep until he was 6 months old. If he was to nap or sleep anywhere, he needed that blanket to be swaddled in.
Third, I'm not sure Luke likes it. It seems like a love-hate relationship. Once he is sleepy and swaddled, he's out for the count. But if he is swaddled and not quite sleepy enough or not ready to sleep, he fights big time, grunting, groaning, writhing, and finally crying until he gets himself free. I just don't know if he actually likes it at all.
And finally, it is a pain to 're-wrap' a baby in the middle of the night, which sometimes occurs in addition to feedings. Jacob would often times break out of the swaddle in the middle of the night and would wake up and require re-wrapping in order to sleep. Add these re-wraps to the nighttime feedings and my sleep is sorely affected. Luke is to this point of breaking out of the swaddle often. This leads to one of two things: he needs to be re-swaddled to go back to sleep or he is reminded that it has been awhile since he has eaten and wants to eat then instead of sleeping more. I figure if he learns to sleep without being swaddled, we'll eliminate this problem.
Now, of course, being the googler that I am, I looked up "How long should a baby be swaddled?" today. Although several sites mentioned swaddling only up until 4 months old, I found several "moms" who swaddled longer and were advocates of it. After all, if their child was sleeping great with it, why mess with it? This should be my attitude. After all, he was sleeping great before he figured out how to break out of the swaddle, so if I can figure out how to keep him swaddled (perhaps trying the Amazing Miracle Blanket, which worked great with Jacob until he was 5-6 months old and breaking out of it too), perhaps he'll continue to extend his sleep stretches at night. I guess it is worth a shot...at least for another month or two, until he can truly go 8 hours without eating at night. So, I'm going to think about it some more, but what I think I am going to do is to keep Luke un-swaddled at naps and try swaddling with the Miracle Blanket (much harder to break out of) at night. If his sleep stretches continue to extend, I'll stick with it. If not, we'll go back to no swaddling.
By the way, he did pretty good last night without being swaddled. He went 5 hrs between feedings the first stretch, 4 1/2 the second, and only 2 1/2 the third. He did take some time falling asleep each time, but he did it on his own with me sleeping (or trying to) in the next room.