Swaddling is a crucial key to getting a few hours of blissful sleep each night. While some babies don’t like to be swaddled, a majority prefer to be snuggled in their blanket, warm and safe just like in their mother’s womb. You will reach a point when you wonder if it is time to stop swaddling your baby, or if it is still safe to do so. There is also a question to ponder during their first year of life.
The Benefits of Swaddling
Maybe you have never swaddled a baby! You are missing of the classic soothing techniques, advocated by parents and doctors worldwide. There are so many reasons why you want to swaddle your child. The benefits are extensive, but here are a few that may be appealing to you.
- Your baby will sleep longer and sounded. Every parent wants to be able to sleep longer.
- Babies must be put to sleep on their back. When you swaddle your child, you have no option but to lay them on your back. It makes it, so sleepy parents don’t make bad decisions.
- Swaddling decreases anxiety and relaxes your baby as they sleep.
- Newborns have a strong startle (Moro) reflex. You have probably witnessed it a few times. They throw their arms out and typically cry; they are scared! The Moro reflex can cause your baby to wake up Swaddling prevents this from happening, allowing your child to get a peaceful sleep.
- You won’t need to place other items in their crib or sleeping area, such as bumpers or blankets. All of these items can increase the risk of SIDs.
- Those sharp baby nails won’t be able to scratch your baby’s face when they are swaddled. Trust me; baby nails are dangerous!
- Your baby feels as if they are being held or touch. Remember, they spent 40 weeks growing in your womb! Newborns feel safe when they are held, so swaddling mimics this feeling.
- Colicky babies mainly benefit from swaddling. It helps to soothe them and reduces crying, which is needed! Anything to soothe a colicky child is amazing.
Pacifiers and swaddling are two commonly use items to help soothe and relax babies. They use them as comfort items to fall asleep or just to make them stop fussing. However, just like pacifiers, you have to stop swaddling your baby. It sounds like a nightmare! Why would you want to stop doing something that helps your child sleep? Some reasons and times indicate your days of swaddling are coming to an end.
How Do You Know It Is Time to Stop Swaddling?
The great thing is that there is no perfect answer as to when it is time to stop swaddling. Parents make the ultimate decision when they feel as if their child is ready to stop swaddling. You know your child better than anyone else, and no one can tell you that you have to stop right now.
Typically, swaddling is designed for newborns. It is the perfect transition from womb to life in the world. Birth and the weeks following are quite scary and overwhelming for infants. The comforting snugness of swaddling reminds the baby of the womb and relaxes them, typically into a deep sleep.
The benefits of swaddling extend beyond the newborn stage. It isn’t uncommon for kids to be swaddled up to 9 months old. Some children love the comfort, and it is needed for them to soothe into a deep sleep. While most babies hit a stage when they reject the swaddle, there are some that prefer to keep it going for as long as possible.
However, there are some guidelines and ways to determine if your child is ready to stop swaddling
- Most babies are ready to stop swaddling around three to four months of age.
- Watch your baby’s Moro reflex. Almost all newborns have the startle reflex, and they will outgrow it around four to five months of age. If your child has a strong Moro reflex, you want to avoid stopping the swaddle too soon. He will startle himself awake at night.
- Some babies can break themselves free. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are ready to stop, but if it is consistently happening, you might want to consider stopping. If they are free and roll around, the blanket you used to swaddle will be loose in their crib. However, you can always switch to a swaddling sack or blanket, like the Miracle Blanket!
- When your baby can roll from back to tummy, it is probably time to stop swaddling. Your child should NEVER sleep facedown. It is a suffocation risk. He might roll from his back to belly, and not be able to get back over because of the swaddle blankets.
- Parents who opt to sleep train will want to stop swaddling beforehand. They want their babies to learn to self-soothe without any comfort aids, so it defeats the ultimate purpose for those parents.
- As your child ages, you want to decrease the amount of time they are swaddled. It should be for sleep only, as they move out of the newborn stage. Infants need time to develop and grow stronger as they work their gross motor skills.
- If your baby starts to wake up multiple times at night suddenly, it may be that they are uncomfortable in the swaddle and need to find a new position. If you wait for this sign, most babies can transition fairly quickly. This time typically happens closer to six months.
Way to Stop Swaddling Your Baby
So, you made the decision that it is time to stop. The only remaining piece of the puzzle is to determine the how. If your baby isn’t highly dependent on the swaddle for comfort or can self-soothe on their own, they may stop swaddling very quickly. However, if you have a baby that depends on it to get to sleep every single time, you are likely in for a tough time as you make this transition. Everyone makes it through, so relax and decide which method to try.
The best way to stop is doing so gradually. Removing it from your child in one day is likely not to result in the way you want, and it could be traumatizing for your baby. A gradual plan gives your child time to get used to the process and result in a lot less crying.
To complete the step-by-step process, you start by leaving one arm or one leg out of the swaddle. You can also leave both legs out and swaddle just the torso and arms. Next, you may swaddle his torso and just one arm. Soon, you will wrap just their torso. Before you know it, they will be weaned from it all together! A gradual transition results in fewer tears for baby and parents.
Here is an example of this method:
- For the first one to three nights, you swaddle your baby with one arm out.
- Next, the following two or three nights, you swaddle so that both of their arms are free.
- After your baby has settled with this, remove the swaddle altogether.
There are many ways to modify this approach to fit your child! You may realize that they aren’t handling it as well as you hoped. You can extend each night for as long as your baby needs to feel relaxed and adapted to the child.
You can use one of the great products on the market that makes transitioning easier.
- The Swaddle Strap, created by Anna & Eve, is an excellent product with high reviews. Technically, you can use it as a swaddling tool as well. Parents use it as a means to wean their baby from the swaddle. It wraps just their arms while leaving their legs totally free. This tool is an excellent way to make that transition easier.
- Some parents have success with a product called The Zipade-Zip. The founders designed it for the transitional period after swaddling. Babies have a larger range of motion than they do in a traditional swaddle. It is a great way for kids to squirm and learn a bit how to self-soothe, while still having that comfort of a swaddle. Also, children typically can roll around in the Zipadee-Zip. If your child is too big or mobile for the swaddle, it is an excellent way to
- Many parents love the Woombie for their babies as a way to swaddle them quickly. They also make a Convertible Woombie that helps the transition. It allows you to wrap one arm out first or both arms. This product is a favorite for many parents and babies!
There are other products out there! Take a look and see what you find. Your baby may like a sleep sack that covers their feet but leaves their arms open. Try a few different and see what works best for your baby!
Cold Turkey: Some parents prefer to just cold turkey their baby. Others think that it is way too harsh. No matter your viewpoint, cold turkey is more painful, but it tends to be quicker than the gradual approach. Remember, if you are consistent, your baby will adapt. However, it will involve a lot more tears and a lot less sleep for the entire family if you decide to cold turkey. The benefits may outweigh the negatives for you!
Use a Breathable, Loose Swaddle: Another method is to use a breathable swaddle blanket. The plain is to swaddle very loosely, giving your baby the wiggle room they didn’t have before. However, they still have the feeling of the closeness. Soon, you keep swaddling looser and looser until you stop completely.
Introduce a Sleep Association: There is no better time than during this transition to add a sleep association or something to help them get comfort rather than the swaddle. Note: it is NEVER a good idea to remove a pacifier and a swaddle at the same time. That is a recipe for disaster.
- Pacifiers are a good choice, even though some parents prefer not to use them at all. They are very comforting, and many babies love them. Typically, it is harder to break the pacifier habit than the swaddle association.
- Give Your Baby a Lovey: Another item that some parents prefer not to use is a lovey, but it’s a good choice as well. A small stuffed animal or something that is comfortable to hold is ideal. You shouldn’t give your child something with beads or anything that can come off and cause your baby to choke. Crocheted or knitted items could be a good choice since they are breathable. He will snuggle this item as he goes to sleep.
- Set a Great Bedtime Routine: A solid bedtime routine is so important! Your child will soon associate the pattern with bedtime. You might want to start with a bath or a quick, warm wash off their face. Then, your family reads a story or two together. Maybe you add a snack before the bath time. Ultimately, the routine depends on your family and what you want. The options are endless!
- Make a Nice Sleeping Area: Just like your bed, you want your baby to have a cozy place to sleep. Cozy doesn’t mean unsafe. Make sure they aren’t too hot or too cold. The lights should be dimmed. Some babies prefer the sound of white noise or a fan in the background. Find ways to settle your child into sleep without the need of a swaddle.
Transitioning your baby from their swaddle sounds painful and upsetting. In all reality, it could be both of those things. Some children struggle to sleep for some time after they transition away from their swaddle. Others can switch with little problem. At one time, you will have to face this dilemma. Wait for the signs that your baby is ready and try one or more than one of the suggestions above on how to stop swaddling. Soon, your child will sleep great without it!