When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby

Sleeping swaddled baby in mother's arms

Swaddling makes your baby feel comfortable and secure as a newborn, helping your baby sleep through the night. This, in turn, allows you to get some sleep and relax. However, swaddling only works for a certain amount of time. After a while, you need to move on to other ways of baby comforting techniques. Here are some tips on when to stop swaddling your baby

Related Link: How to Get a Baby to Sleep Through the Night

How long and when should a baby be swaddled?

You should swaddle your baby when they fall asleep, starting at birth. The swaddling recreates the comfort of the womb, a comfortable place for the baby. This prevents the baby from rolling onto their stomach, decreasing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and it helps the baby sleep. Generally speaking, you can expect to swaddle your baby for 2 - 3 months. 

You do not necessarily need to swaddle your baby. Many babies learn to sleep just fine without swaddling and don’t need the security to fall asleep. However, most parents do notice their baby sleeps better after wrapping them tightly in blankets. 

Why is it important to stop swaddling a baby?

One of the main reasons you probably want to stop swaddling your baby involves the countless hours you spent wrapping your baby in blankets for months. Not swaddling will make bedtime a little easier on you by eliminating a time-consuming step. The transition marks the end of your baby as a newborn, but it’s a chance for exciting new experiences. Of course, there are reasons to stop swaddling for the baby, too. 

Swaddling keeps a baby in place while they sleep. This is important to reduce the risk of SIDS since sleeping on the stomach increases the likelihood of SIDS in infants. SIDS is one of the absolute worst things you can experience as a new parent, so you want to take the proper precautions to eliminate the possibility as much as possible. 

As the baby grows and moves more, they can turn the blanket into a hazard. The swaddling blanket can choke or strangle the baby. A baby can’t help themselves at this age if they end up with a blanket covering their face since they can’t roll over or use their arms. A baby should not sleep with loose bedding until they reach at least 12 months old. 

Finally, swaddling can eventually prevent a baby from developing their motor skills as they typically would if not swaddled. This can hinder their development compared to other babies their age, and this can follow them as they get older. No parent wants to watch their baby struggle to keep up with other kids learning to crawl and walk before them. 

Swaddled baby yawning

 

When should I stop swaddling?

Generally speaking, you should stop swaddling when the baby starts to roll over in their sleep. At this point, they need the ability to roll over onto their back, which they can’t do when confined while swaddled. This usually happens around 2 - 3 months, but all babies develop at different speeds. 

Some babies don’t have a clear moment when they start rolling over. Other signs that indicate its time to top swaddling include:

  • Increased activity while sleeping
  • Moro reflex (no startle reflex)
  • Trouble sleeping at night

At this point, you know you can start moving forward with the process of weaning the baby from swaddling. You don’t necessarily need to stop the process abruptly. 

Related Link: Baby Box Idea

4 Steps to swaddling transition

You want to have a plan when you introduce your baby to significant change. This 4-step system to end swaddling works well without shocking the baby’s system too much. 

Free the Arm

For 2 - 3 days, try pulling one arm out of the swaddle to start. You want to start with the dominant arm and watch how the baby reacts sleeping with it out. You only want to use one arm at first so that the baby has one arm secured in place to keep them from feeling too startled. If the baby seems comfortable, consider pulling the other arm out as well. 

Many swaddling blankets you get in baby subscription boxes give you the ability to swaddle the baby while still leaving either one or two arms free. Contact 123 Baby Box to learn how to get everything you need to wean your baby off swaddling delivered right to your home. 

Analyze Development and Response

Try freeing the arm (or amrs) during nap time to analyze your baby’s response. In some cases, the baby will not fall asleep or struggle to fall asleep during the nap. If the baby does have trouble, they may still have the moro reflex, requiring swaddling to make them feel comfortable and safe. 

Use Wearable Blanket

Once the baby shows signs of sleeping well with the arms out of the blanket, you can transition to a wearable blanket or sleep sack. A wearable blanket will give the baby some freedom of movement while still providing significant security. The best wearable blankets also come with a weight to increase the amount of pressure on the baby. These products don’t create a concern associated with loose bedding, and they come with zippers to make changing easy. 

Rolling Over

Finally, the baby will start to roll on its back. At this point, you can move the wearable blanket to put the weight on your back, mimicking the feel of your hand on their back. This will help them feel more secure and sleep better. 

You don’t necessarily need to follow these four steps. You may choose to eliminate swaddling cold turkey and suffer through the intense crying. Whatever way you choose, make an effort to keep the baby’s room comfortable so they don’t have environmental reasons to stay up and make the process even worse. Gentle rocking and gentle noises can also help soothe them to sleep once the swaddling no longer can. 

Related Link: Why Does My Baby Cry So Much?

Mom sleeping with baby

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