As a parent to a newborn, there are so many things to worry about. Sleep is, of course, one of the hottest topics. What should I have my baby sleep in? Are they too hot? Too cold? Should I rock them to sleep or let them fuss? The question of whether or not to use a swaddle is one that many parents debate over. Furthermore, if you do use a swaddle, the even bigger challenge is how to stop swaddling your baby.
I’m a fan of swaddles for several reasons. As a brand new baby, they are used to being cozy and safe in your womb. A swaddle is one of the next best things once they are out in the big scary world. Most babies love feeling warm and cozy. I have found that swaddled babies sleep longer and sounder. With their arms swaddled, your baby’s sleep will not be disrupted by the famous startle reflex. You and your baby both need sleep, so this benefit is enough in itself. Swaddle blankets are also known to ease anxiety and increase soothing.
Of course, your baby cannot sleep in a swaddle forever. There is certainly a time when you need to let go of the swaddle and allow them to sleep without it. While swaddling during the newborn stage is fine, older babies need the ability to move freely to develop their gross motor skills. This post will give you tips on how to stop swaddling your baby.
How To Stop Swaddling Your Baby
Similar to eliminating a pacifier, there are various methods that can be used to rid your baby of their swaddle. Since swaddles tend to help put babies to sleep, it can feel scary to give that comfort up. It’s important to remember that each child is different, and what works for one baby may not work for another. Below are some common methods to help with your baby transitioning out of the swaddle.
Method #1: Cold Turkey
For some babies, this method works well. If they show signs of being ready to ditch their wearable blanket, it’s worth giving a try. This is the right method to take if safety is a concern, such as if the swaddle blanket is being kicked off in the middle of the night. Don’t be surprised if this strategy requires a few sleepless nights. Most likely it will take your child longer to fall asleep at first. However, for some babies, you may find that they sleep better without it.
Method #2: Transition to Something Different
Another popular swaddle transition method is to give up the traditional full body swaddle and move to something such as a sleep suit, sleeping bag, or sleep sack. These all serve the same purpose…to help your baby safely sleep without restraining their arms. Here are a few great options:
Method #3: Do it Gradually
This is the method that I recommend because it seems to be the best of both worlds. It doesn’t take very long, but it also doesn’t require additional swaddles or sleep suits to be used. The idea is to gradually get the baby used to having their arms free. For the first 2-3 nights, have your baby swaddled as normal, but keep their dominant arm out of the swaddle. If that seems to go well, keep both arms out of the swaddle for the following 2-3 nights. This is an estimated amount of time, but it could take longer or shorter depending on the child.
When To Stop Swaddling
There is no designated age that you need to stop swaddling your baby. However, the average age is around 3-4 months. However, many families opt to wait until 6-9 months of age. I suggest beginning the swaddle transition during nap time. If that goes well, move to nighttime. If your baby isn’t adjusting to the switch after several, they may not be ready and that’s ok. You can try again in a few weeks. Here are some signs that it’s time to stop swaddling:
They are fighting the swaddle
This could be your baby telling you that they are ready to sleep on their own. In some cases, babies actually prefer to sleep without one from the beginning.
Your baby is not staying swaddled through the night
If your baby is not staying swaddled during the entire night, that means there may be loose blankets in the crib. During the newborn age, you never want loose items in the crib as they can act as a suffocation hazard.
They are starting to roll over on their own
You don’t want your baby rolling over while swaddled and having their arms restrained.
Their startle reflex is gone
This is a sure fire sign that your baby is old enough and capable of sleeping without the support and comfort of their swaddle.
Do you have a favorite swaddle or sleep sack? Comment below and let us know! For more information on the Nested Bean Zen swaddle, check out this post.
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