Since I've started this blog, I've had quite a few visitors find me through a search for something like "baby fidgets in sleep" or "baby fidgets in bed" or simply "baby fidgets." This leads me to believe that there are others out there with fidgety babies who drive them crazy enough to search on the internet for some information about fidgeting babies. So I thought I'd do a whole post to discuss the fidgety nature of my child and how I deal with it.
Do you want to know when my child first started fidgeting? IN UTERO!! I'm not kidding. When I was pregnant, this baby moved a lot. She was very often kicking and pushing and hiccuping. OMG, the hiccups! I thought they would drive me nuts. Every. Single. Day. For. Months. Straight. Often more than once a day. I am not exaggerating--you can ask Londo or the many people I worked with, all of whom had to hear about it. I just thought it was part of being pregnant, and it probably is, but I've also realized that it is just my child's nature.
I may have mentioned before that the Pumpkin is a fussy baby, and she always has been. I think that part of her fussiness is her need for constant motion and activity. As a newborn, she needed to be held and walked/rocked/bounced constantly. When we weren't moving her, she was moving herself. She constantly kicked her feet and flailed her arms. Since she was a few weeks old, I have joked that she has restless legs syndrome, except it's her whole body. Restless Body Syndrome. I suspect she is not the only baby with this disorder.
How did we deal with this and get any sleep at all? Two things: the Miracle Blanket and the swing. Swaddling the baby worked amazingly well for us. Even when she was awake, a lot of times it would just calm her down. She would start calming down when we started the swaddling process. And we used the swing at night (all night long) from week 3 to 2 months. I would have kept using it, but she was getting heavy and it was starting to creak a bit. hehe.
We kept swaddling her at night when we moved her to the co-sleeper next to the bed, even though she started to kick her feet out. Then she started wiggling her arms out. Darn that fidgeting! She would wake herself up because she'd come almost completely out of the once mummy-tight swaddle. So we tried to not swaddle her, and it was a mess. We went back to swaddling.
Since she was such an active child, she started rolling over early. She started crawling early, she started standing, and cruising, and even walking early. The great thing about the early development of gross motor skills was that she was able to be active and fidgety on her own, without us having to constantly move her. But the huge issue with this early development is that she started rolling over in her sleep at 3.5 months. While swaddled. With her arms pinned to her sides.
So I freaked out, and we stopped swaddling her. This was right at the 4-month sleep regression time period. And there went our sleep. For months and months. Was it the figeting that kept waking her up? The teething? Gas? The sleep regression/developmental spurt? I don't know what it was, but to this day, I miss the swaddle.
Around 6 months, we moved her into her nursery. We figured if she was not sleeping in our bedroom, she might as well not sleep in her nursery so we wouldn't have to tip-toe around our room anymore. But I'd go in and cosleep with her in there for the morning hours. And she'd fidget.
I have before refered to "The Fidget Hour" which is the hour (or more) it would take the Pumpkin to settle down. I would bring her into the twin bed with me, nurse her lying down, and we'd start drifting off to sleep. Often, it would be beautiful and easy. But there were many many times that were not so easy. Especially when she was super fidgety. She would grab my shirt, grab my hands, twirl her hair in her fingers, and on and on. She would kick me, push her feet into me, and constantly move her legs. All while her eyes are closed and looking like she should be asleep.
On the worst mornings, she'd stop nursing and keep fidgeting, sometimes waking herself up or keeping herself awake. I learned to let her roll over onto her stomach and cuddle around her to keep her arms and legs from moving. Sometimes this would work, other times it would just piss her off.
Finally, she seems to be learning to stay asleep or put herself back to sleep through the fidgeting. I imagine it's just one of those things. She still fidgets, not only in her sleep but also while nursing or in her highchair or in her carseat--Who am I kidding? She fidgets EVERYWHERE. But so does her daddy, so at least she comes by it honestly.
To all those out there struggling with fidgety babies, good luck. I have no good answers for how to help others, only things that we tried that worked sometimes.
I hope it gets easier for us all as they get older.