Swaddling a Sixteen Month Old?

I know that probably sounds odd. Lots of people swaddle their newborns. I swaddled Isaiah for the first month or so, but he was never really a fan of it. Isaiah has always liked sleeping on his tummy, so swaddling wasn’t the best plan for him once he started doing that. He slept fairly well, so I didn’t think about it one way or the other.

Now, fast forward to now. Isaiah struggles with sensory overload sometimes. When he gets too much stimulation, he either melts down and can’t function at all or he goes totally crazy; running, swinging his arms, shrieking… In both situations, he seems to have little to no control over his own actions. It’s very difficult for him to calm down once he’s overloaded. I talked to an occupational therapist about his sensory overload and she suggested that swaddling might help him to regain control and calm down. I wasn’t too sure about it because the last few times I’ve tried to wrap him in a blanket–or even cover him with one–he panicked.


Riding his rocking horse while being completely wild

Tonight, Isaiah was getting overtired while I was trying to get him ready for bed after a very busy day. He started running through the house–yelling, climbing on things and generally being wild. When I brought him to his room, he wasn’t able to lie still long enough to nurse to sleep. He sat on his bed, screaming and swinging his arms and legs. He was so upset and I wanted desperately to help him, so I decided that we needed to try swaddling. I wrapped him tightly in a lightweight blanket and held him while he nursed. At first, he kept his legs bouncing in the blanket, but soon, he was completely still and relaxed. I was able to put him down on his bed and he’s been sleeping soundly ever since. It helped him so much! Being swaddled in the blanket gave him the little bit of help he needed to be able to stay still while he nursed to relax. I will most definitely be using this technique again when he gets overstimulated!


Completely calm and sleeping peacefully in a tight swaddle

Update, May 31, 2011:
Isaiah has asked to be swaddled the last two nights. He brings me the blanket and announces “yeah, yeah” while nodding his head emphatically. Once I spread the blanket out, he lies down on it for me. He’s not very still while I do it because while I’m putting one corner around him, he’s trying to pull the other corner up because that side of his body is still uncovered! Tonight, before he asked to be swaddled, he showed me his baby and its blanket and wanted the baby swaddled. Now they’re sleeping together on his bed, each swaddled in their own blankets.


Isaiah and baby in bed tonight


8 responses to “Swaddling a Sixteen Month Old?

  1. Sooo… “anon” obviously doesn’t have a kid with sensory issues.

    I think that sounds like a great idea. I might try that with J.

  2. What a great, gentle way to provide a little external control when he has no internal control of his own! I’m so glad you found a tool to help you and your little man!

  3. He actually asked to be swaddled tonight! He brought me his blanket saying, “yeah, yeah!” and got in position to be wrapped as soon as I laid it out. 🙂 It must be comforting for him. He went to sleep so easily once he was in it!

  4. I am so glad that you found something to help him! I wonder if he has a sensory over load out in public you could do the bear hug if you didnt have a blanket? At any rate, this is wonderful!

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