We have a number of friends who are joining the wonderful world of parenthood, so I'll be sharing information about our favorite gear for the newborn phase over the next couple weeks. Picks are not ranked in any particular order.
Up next on our list of baby gear favorites: swaddlers. Oh, how I love a good swaddle wrap! Until just a couple months ago, Lana was still getting swaddled for sleep. Could she sleep without it? Yes. Was it pretty? No! (OMG, NO.) In the beginning, swaddling is KEY! (Open any baby book and it'll be topping the short-list of go-to calming tactics.)
Lana would be swaddled on and off all day long in the early months, then for naps and nighttime sleep until probably 6+ months. We finally weaned her off the swaddle because she was getting to be too big for most wraps. While I'm glad we weaned (it's one of those things a new parent neurotically (and totally stupidly) worries about), I'll be honest: I don't think she's slept through an entire night since we did. Sure, we were both sick at the time (thus much more night-waking), then she started cutting teeth, and getting mobile, and eating solid foods, etc., etc. All things that will certainly disrupt the sleep of an already imperfect sleeper. But, I'm just saying...that "snug as a bug in a rug" thing really can work wonders!
Do you need one of these fancy velcro wraps to swaddle? Definitely not. You can do it with a blanket. But the blanket must be BIG and square, and frankly--those are hard to find. The Aden + Anais ones are great, but swaddle wraps are way cheaper. Plus, learning the correct tucking technique to get a blanket tight enough once your little one builds up a bit of muscle (and personality) can be a challenge. These handy wraps make the process much easier, especially when you're fighting a screaming, thrashing little terror! (Rarely did Lana look like the peaceful little babe above when she was in need of a swaddle!)
If you end up with a little Houdini on your hands, we highly recommend the Miracle Blanket. It takes a little practice to get the hang of it, but really helps keep these little squirmers snuggled up. With as big and strong as Lana grew to be, we actually double swaddled in the later months (a velcro wrap over a Miracle Blanket) at night time. I know, it probably sounds crazy (abusive even, if you ask my in-laws!), but she would sleep like a champ when she was this snug.
Then, when you're ready to drop the swaddle, but still appreciate a little bit of mobility restriction, as well as a built in blanket, we recommend any variety of sleep sacks. (Ours are a warm fleece material with long sleeves, but the ones linked here are great for warmer weather.)
While we're on the subject of sleep attire, let's talk PJs for a minute. As far as I'm concerned, there's really no need to fill your infant's closet with hoards of clothing. I would say a good 50% of the time, Lana wears her PJs all day. Call me lazy, but they're convenient! It's a pain to dress a kid: they don't like it! It's a pain to take off shoes/pants/socks and unbutton a onesie every time you change a diaper. It's an even bigger pain to have to put it all back on 6+ times a day!
I think I prefer a zippered sleeper over snaps, but she has lots of both and it's not that big of a deal--just, as she gets more mobile, zippers are faster, which means less complaining and less wrestling (she rolls over, I roll her back, she rolls over, I roll her back; repeat 17 times per diaper change). I really like the footed sleepers for small babies (no losing socks/putting them back on 100 times a day), but now she's growing too fast for built-in feet. Plus, the ones without feet are better when they start crawling so they don't get all caught up in their clothes.
Hanna Andersson makes adorable, organic, footless sleepers. Bonus? They sell them at Costco!!