The first few nights with the Zen Swaddle can be an adjustment – for you and your little one! Some babies take to the swaddle right away, and love being wrapped up and confined, while others fight the swaddle and even break free.
When used correctly, and introduced at an early age, the Zen Swaddle can be an EXCELLENT tool for helping your baby sleep longer and fall asleep quicker. One main benefit of the swaddling technique is that it reduces the startle (Moro) reflex which can cause your baby to frequently wake themselves up! There are many benefits of swaddling, but our Zen Swaddle has the added benefit of mimicking human touch and the feeling of being held with three gently weighted pads that rest on your baby’s chest and sides. These pads provide soothing qualities and security to a sleeping baby.
The Zen Swaddle sounds like a miracle product in theory, but of course there are some babies who do not see its benefits right away! If you are finding that your baby does not like the swaddle, or is not sleeping any better while being swaddled, try to be patient! It can take up to a week for babies to adjust to a new sleeping environment, especially if they are used to co-sleeping or sleeping in your arms. Please give it some time.
If, after a week or so, you are not seeing any improvements in your little one’s sleep, we are here to help! Below is a guide to the Zen Swaddle, with suggestions for parents at various points of swaddle use!
#1 Introduce the Zen Swaddle early on
We recommend starting the swaddle as soon as possible, even right after birth (if your baby meets the minimum weight requirement of 7 lbs). Introducing swaddling this early on will make it so much easier for your baby to adjust to the swaddle and accept it as part of their sleep routine. Newborns are used to the warm and cozy environment of their mother’s womb, and the swaddle is the closest replication of this feeling! While swaddling a newborn or smaller baby, you will most likely be able to fit their legs in the small inner pouch of the swaddle, which will help keep their tiny body in place! Once they get a bit bigger, you can simply rest their legs on top of the pouch and swaddle this way.
#2 Starting the swaddle later in the game
Of course, we understand that not all Zen Swaddle users are able to swaddle from birth, so if you’re trying the swaddle for the first time with your baby a bit later, read on! The later you start using the swaddle, the more your baby will fight it. This is completely normal so do not panic. Your baby is probably not used to being so confined, and has accepted the challenge to break out like a baby Houdini! However, with consistent use, your baby will begin to get used to the sensation of being wrapped like a burrito, and recognize it as a signal to fall asleep. Even if you find that your baby is fighting the swaddle while you are putting it on (which bigger babies PROBABLY will) they may still be benefiting from the swaddle during sleep because it is preventing the startle reflex – so stick with it.
#3 Houdini babies
If your baby is breaking out of the swaddle, a different course of action needs to be taken. It is our goal that with a correct swaddle technique – with your baby’s arms flush against their sides so they have no room to wiggle about – that the swaddle will keep your baby completely contained. However, we understand that this is not always the reality. Some babies are super strong and are able to break free. That is okay because we have come up with some alternative techniques to keep your little one from breaking free as easily and waking up as a result.
If you have already watched the swaddle technique videos and are confident that you have gotten the tightest swaddle around your baby that you possibly can, have no fear! Some babies simply need a different method when it comes to swaddling! First, we suggest that you try swaddling your baby with one arm out. This makes it much harder for your little one to maneuver an escape! If you find that your baby does not like this technique, or that your baby is still breaking out, it may be time to swaddle your baby with both arms free! Some babies simply prefer more mobility while they sleep. This may also be a sign that your little one is ready to transition from the Zen Swaddle to the Zen Sack.
#4 Opting for/transitioning to the Zen Sack
If you have tried to swaddle technique and found that your baby HATES it, our small Zen Sack is a great alternative for younger babies! This product has the same minimum weight requirement of 7 lbs and allows free mobility of your baby’s arms and more room for your little one to kick their legs! However, the Zen Sack does not offer as much support as the Zen Swaddle, as it only has one weighted pad that rests on your baby’s chest.
#5 Other reasons the Zen Swaddle may not be working as anticipated
If you are finding that your baby likes the swaddle, is not breaking out of the swaddle, and is still waking up frequently throughout the night, there might be something else going on. When younger babies wake throughout the night, it is usually an indication that they are hungry. ABSOLUTELY feed your baby when they wake up hungry!
If you’ve recently transitioned your baby to a crib or other independent sleeper, they may not be taking to the swaddle simply because they are having a difficult time adjusting to all the new changes taking place. Babies are stubborn little beings and do not like their sleeping environment to be disrupted in any way. This is completely normal and will get better with time. However, there are a few actions you can take to ease this transition: Make sure you are putting your baby down while they are awake so they don’t panic when they wake up and you are nowhere to be found! Don’t resort to picking up your baby when they cry to be comforted in the middle of the night - simply pat their back or gently rub their chest. Gradually reduce the amount of time you spend doing this, so eventually they don’t expect it. Learning to self-soothe is a crucial skill for infants, as it will help them to sleep independently into their toddler years!
Human associations can be very difficult to break, so do your best to avoid rocking your baby in your arms until they are asleep, or nursing to sleep, as they will begin to expect these tricks each time, making it very difficult for them to sleep without them.
Acid Reflux and gas can sometimes make babies very uncomfortable and prevent them from sleeping well. These are issues that should be addressed with a pediatrician. However, babies with gas and reflux are typically still able to use and benefit from our products. They may just need some modifications. The swaddle may need to be done a bit looser to not put too much pressure on your baby’s tummy or your baby may need to sleep on an inclined surface. Again, please consult your pediatrician if you believe your baby may be experiencing these issues.
A sleep regression could also be the reason why the Zen Swaddle is not working wonders for your little one. Babies can experience sleep regressions at any time, but they most frequently occur around 6 weeks, 4 months, and 6 months. A sleep regression may result in your baby not sleeping for long periods at night, taking shorter naps, crying a lot, needing to feed more often, and wanting to be held or rocked all the time. During these challenging times, it is okay to do whatever works for your baby. You may need to soothe your baby to sleep, or increase the amount of food you are feeding them (supplementing with formula if you are breastfeeding) to get through the regression. The good news is that regressions do not typically last longer than a week or two, so hang in there and do whatever you can to make yourself and your baby comfortable. However, be careful not to let these “emergency tricks” you’ve been using to get through the regression become the norm for helping your baby sleep. Try to return to your typical sleep routine once you begin to recognize that your baby is starting to get over the regression.
A true Zen Swaddle success story:
Amy ordered our product by mistake during sleep-less night with her 16-day old baby girl, Gracelynn. She was so sleep-deprived when she made the purchase, that she was surprised when the package arrived! We’re so glad she chose to give us a chance!
“The swaddle came very fast, and instead of returning it, I decided it was fate and threw it in the wash to use that night. Around 9 pm I was getting ready for the 3-hour battle to nurse, and try to get her in her bed, so I could sleep too. I fed her, changed her diaper, and then put the swaddle on. I lifted her back to my nursing pillow to try to nurse her to sleep, and she barely latched and promptly passed out. I moved her to her bed, where she stayed asleep! She was just shy of 3 weeks and slept FOUR HOURS STRAIT! She had been waking after 2 hours if I got her to sleep right after nursing. Some nights she woke to nurse again before I had even gotten back to sleep! Right away I noticed a difference while using the Zen Swaddle. The second night was not as good as the first but still an improvement from what it had been – she woke after 2.5 hours but went back to sleep much faster than before. Night 3 was like night 1. And after that, it was pretty smooth sailing. She even started to have a few nights of sleeping through the night! The one night I forgot to wash it, she slept awful! I had to order a second so that I could have one in the wash and one to wear.
I have four children, and this was not my first Rodeo. All I have to say is this mom of 4 was won over! My daughter is now 3 months old and I still use the swaddle and I swaddle her with her arms out! If I try using something else other than the Zen Swaddle, she does not sleep as well. I hope to try a Zen Sack soon as I am sure it will be pretty amazing!”