I read through almost every sleep book I could get my hands on. Although I learned a lot of good things in them, they also confused the heck out of me because each of them contradicted each other, citing evidence on how the others were wrong. (Yes, they would even quote each other.) I established a routine to get her to sleep (one thing they all agreed on) but it still didn't really help, so in my desperation, I would grasp at random things I remembered from various books and probably confused the poor baby out of her mind. No wonder she was so cranky.
Sunday we had "cousins dinner" at BJ's aunt's house in Bountiful. Kessa had had a horrible day in terms of sleep. Her longest nap had been on the car trip up. 20 minutes of crying and 40 minutes of sleep. She had one other nap… in my arms while BJ taught Primary. 20 minutes top, but I doubt it was that long. In other words, she was cranky. BJ's cousin, Laura, asked if she could hold her and next thing you know, she was sound asleep. I was pleased and irritated at the same time. This was getting old. But the difference? Laura taught me some swaddling techniques that have changed my life.
First, start with a stretchy blanket. Make sure when you put her on the blanket, put her off to one side so that the second side you wrap around is longer and can tuck underneath her. If she's old enough to kick, don't worry about swaddling her feet. (Though, I've been putting socks on her feet, cuz it's so cold!) Instead of putting her arms across her chest, put them straight on her side, slightly tucked under her bum. Instead of wrapping the blanket straight across her chest, start at her shoulder and angle it down so that the two wrapped portions make a V-neck.
Next, take a not stretchy blanket. I use receiving blankets. Repeat the swaddle.
The first, stretchy swaddle allows for a tight swaddle (don't be afraid to wrap her tight!) to keep her arms tucked in and to feel all wrapped up and cozy, like in the womb, and the second, non-stretchy swaddle keeps her from wiggling out. And let's be honest, we all know that she's fantastic at wiggling herself out of swaddles. (If my instructions don't make sense, let me know and I'll post a video of me swaddling her so you can see.)
"But my baby doesn't like being swaddled," you say. Well, to be honest, I didn't think Kessa liked it much, either. She was world champion at getting her hands out of there before you could even finish swaddling her.
We started swaddling her like this yesterday. By her second nap, she was smiling as I swaddled her and took less than 5 minutes to fall asleep. Today she's started putting her arms down by her sides when I start to swaddle her. She smiles when I swaddle her. I have laid her down and let her fall to sleep completely on her own for three naps today. I haven't been in the room once when she actually fell asleep. Heck, I don't even think I was in the room during the drowsy phase. Then, when she'd wake up in the middle of a nap, she'd cry out, but immediately put herself back to sleep. The first time she did it, I didn't even make it to her door before she was back to sleep. She has slept for almost 5 hours in naps today. She slept for almost 11 hours last night.
Life is bliss.