I don't want to make this seem more dramatic than it was because I'm sure millions of babies have to learn how to get used to sleeping without the swaddle. But this was really hard on my little sweetie. She probably would win the award for the oldest baby to still be swaddled, but it just worked so well! She just LOVED being so nice and tight and warm. She was a fabulous sleeper from the beginning and I really think our swaddle had a lot to do with it. And she probably would still be in it if she hadn't totally outgrown the thing! So we knew we had to get her out of it.
Another factor in this adventure was that I have always rocked my baby to sleep. I didn't really mean to get in the habit, it just sort of somehow happened :) And we both loved it! I will never regret the hours spent rocking my little angel. (And yes, I will rock any other babies we have!) Unfortunately, when we tried to get rid of the swaddle, she would wake up when I lay her down. So kicking the swaddle ALSO meant kicking the rocking to sleep habit which did not result in a fun couple of days for anyone in my house!
I was told it would take 3 days to break the habit and then she would go to sleep fine on her own. I've got to admit, those first 2 days were probably the most emotional either of us has been since she was born! It was utterly heart-breaking to hear her scream! The first nap took 25 minutes and I didn't think I was going to make it. I prayed and called my Mama til she went to sleep :) But the next two only took 10 minutes. But then it was a roller coaster. Some times it would take 5 minutes; sometimes it would be an hour. And I just couldn't do that to my baby. There had to be a better way. I had heard from many people that babies sleep better on their stomachs. My sweet girl can roll back and forth on her belly but never tried it for sleep. So I decided to go back to my old routine of rocking her, singing to her, and then I would put her down BEFORE she fell completely asleep. On her belly instead of back. And I rubbed her back til she calmed down. And then I just sat down on her floor so she could see that I was there to take care of her. And lo and behold, she went to sleep calmly! And she's done it ever since!
So I guess I gave in. I just couldn't handle her screaming. But I like this new routine. She's figured out how to put herself to sleep. She just needed to know I was there. I don't rub her back til she sleeps; I just do it a couple of times to calm her down. And no, I'm not going to sit on her floor every nap til she goes to sleep. I just needed to do it the first couple of times so she got used to the idea of putting herself to sleep. I have the sweetest baby in the world; why should I make her scream if she can quietly put herself to sleep another way?
Sorry this post was so long; I just wanted to share my struggles because I needed to vent and because I thought other moms might like the encouragement. Every baby needs at some point to learn how to put herself to sleep. But depending on personality, completely crying it out is not always necessary. You just have to figure out what works for your own baby!