Right before she turned six months, Edie began to roll from her back to her front. We missed it the first few times: She’d be playing happily on her back, but then we’d look away—and when we came back, she’d be on her tummy! Finally we witnessed a roll so could confirm she was doing it herself (without the help of, say, Finn).
Edie looked a bit bewildered at my excited congratulations of her newfound skill. But along with my enthusiasm I felt dread.
We had to give up the swaddle.
Once babies can roll from back to front, it’s not safe to put them to sleep swaddled. They could flip to their tummy and not be able to roll back, which is, of course, a suffocation risk.
I was scared to phase out the swaddle. We’d been bundling her up like a burrito since she was tiny, and the containment seemed to help her sleep. (For those of you who still swaddle, this terrific site shows videos of different techniques. Bat wings saved us!)
At first, we left just one arm out of the swaddle in the hopes it would help her transition, or wean, from the tight wrapping. After a few days of this, I figured what the hell—she’s already sleeping so terribly, we might as well go full-on swaddle-free.
At first I thought we might have skated by the drama. She fell asleep like usual (which is to say, not easily, but oh well) and I’d put her in the crib. Ten minutes later she’d wake screaming.
When I went in to see which limb had been severed from her body, it turned out that she’d just gotten a leg stuck through the slats of the crib. We began to put her down in a sleepy sack instead, and now all her limbs stay inside.
We’ve successfully made the transition away from the swaddle, then. But a part of me misses it.
I miss how cute she looked when she was wrapped up like a little caterpillar.
I miss her worm dance, the swaying move she’d pull when she was almost asleep on my shoulder.
I miss how she would stretch her arms luxuriously when I unfastened her swaddle in the morning.
But leaving her unswaddled has its appeal, too.
When she nurses before bed now, she rests one hand on my breast. (Or, if she’s more awake, kneads my breast, sticks her fingers in my mouth, fiddles with the back of the chair or scratches my chin.)
She plays when she wakes up. I can hear her talking to herself and fiddling with her favorite toys—her hands.
She falls asleep in hilarious positions. Sometimes her arms are spread wide, like a T; other times her firsts are up, as if she’s flexing her biceps. My favorite was when she stuck her feet in the air and grabbed them.
I’m beginning to see that every stage of her babyhood is like this. When we bid adieu to one thing, I may miss it. But I learn to love the surprises of the next step, too.