How And When To Stop Swaddling Your Baby - Maternity Glow

How And When To Stop Swaddling Your Baby

Oh, the days of swaddling.

My little guy looked like an adorable baby burrito. I was hesitant at first to wrap him up tightly, but doing so was one of the best choices I’ve made in regard to getting him to sleep comfortably and soundly. 

While swaddles do look similar to miniature straight jackets, don’t let them fool your or intimidate you.

My son loved his and he actually looked forward to being wrapped nice and tight each nap and each night! 

But, there will come a time when your baby outgrows theirs and it’s time to move on to sleep training without one.

If you’re new to the concept of swaddling, read on to learn all about its benefits and to also understand why it’s only done for a short period of time, and when you should stop.

Benefits Of Swaddling

Swaddling has many benefits.

In fact, your baby gets swaddled straight away, in the hospital by a nurse. So, it’s a condoned action by medical professionals. 

Swaddling helps your baby feel compact, cozy, and cradled, much like the way they felt when they were curled up in your womb.

When your baby is placed in a wide open crib (or even a bassinet for that matter), they aren’t used to being so exposed, in a sense.

So, it can feel pretty scary and overwhelming.

Swaddles also help your baby sleep better.

Reflexes make your baby’s arms and legs move while they sleep, which actually wakes them up.

When they are swaddled, these movements and twitching motions are restricted.

Your baby also has a reduced likelihood of being affected by SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). 

Why?

The swaddle keeps them in a safe position and doesn’t allow them to move about. 

Also, a swaddle feels like a giant, continuous hug to a baby, so they are calmer in the crib and cry less!

I was skeptical at first about using a swaddle at home, and I had no idea how to tie and fasten one.

But, with a little practice, it became a no-brainer.

I even noticed immediate results, as my son slept through the night after its first use (and what sleep-deprived parent doesn’t want that?)

Why You'll Eventually Need To Get Baby Out Of The Swaddle

Nothing lasts forever!

While swaddles boast many benefits, they do pose a threat at a certain stage in your baby’s development.

This is when and why you want to get them out of one. 

Your baby needs to learn how to soothe themselves eventually, in order to be a good sleeper. 

They need to learn how to put themselves back to sleep if they get woken up due to reflexes, tossing, or turning while they sleep.

Your baby will also start to turn on their sides and sleep not just on their back, but on their tummy as well.

You want your baby to have full control of their arms and legs during this process so they don’t get stuck in one position and are able to turn themselves back over, or hold up and turn their head at least. 

A swaddle can become a hindrance and also a safety concern when it starts to restrict these movements.

It can also cause them to overheat if they are starting to become more active in their sleep and crib overall. 

5 Signs Your Baby Has Outgrown Their Swaddle

How do you know it’s time to remove the swaddle?

Be on the lookout for these following signs:

1. Your Baby Is Not In Their Swaddle

I knew my son was ready to be removed from his because his arm, legs, or entire body would be out of his swaddle when I went to get him in the mornings!

If they can break out of it, it’s time to toss it.

You don’t want your baby to start putting it over their face or head, or tangle themselves up in it.

2. Your Baby Wakes Up In A Different Position

Rolling over from back to front in their crib can literally happen at a moment’s notice. 

When you check on your baby in the morning, or actually watch them do it on your monitor, it’s time to take the swaddle off so it doesn’t pose a safety/smothering threat. 

3. Your Baby Has Outgrown Their Automatic Reflexes

At around six months of age, your baby will stop experiencing those jolts while they are asleep, which means they’ll be able to sleep through the night soundly.

So, they will not physically be in the need for a swaddle.

4. Your Baby Is Able To Pull Themselves Up In Their Crib

Chances are if your baby is able to pull themselves up in their crib, they are not in need of a swaddle.

It won’t really do them any good at this point, as they’ll soon figure out that climbing and jumping around in their crib is much more fun than staying stationary (and it’s also time to lower your crib settings!) 

5. They Appear Frustrated

Your baby is pretty good at letting you know if they are comfortable or not.

If they seem uncomfortable, angry, or unhappy in their swaddle, it’s time to remove it because it will have adverse effects.

Think about a time when you have been pinned down or put in a small space, but didn’t want to be.

That’s how they’ll feel!

5 Tips For Transitioning Baby Out Of Their Swaddle

Once you recognize the signs, it’s time to transition them out of their swaddle.

This can be painful for some, while other babies just go with the flow.

Here are a few tips that will help you through the process.

  • 1
    Swaddle overnight only. Consider removing their swaddle for nap time. This will help get them used to being “free” as they sleep and will build up their tolerance to the openness they feel in their crib, just for a short amount of time. 
  • 2
    Swaddle every other night. Once your baby gets used to napping without a swaddle, start to remove it overnight. Put them in it one night, and give them off the next. Continue this procedure for a week or so to see how they do. If they aren’t really missing the swaddle overnight, you may just want to take it away all together!
  • 3
    Introduce an alternate soother. At this point, your baby may be ready for a security blanket, a pacifier (if they aren’t already taking one), or a crib toy. Each item allows your baby to feel safe and secure in their crib, and also confident and comfortable.
  • 4
    Use an altered form of swaddle. Many parents move to a sleep sack when their baby has outgrown their swaddle. A sack allows their hands to be free, but their legs to be snuggled and contained. This way, if the baby starts to roll over, their hands are free to support them.
  • 5
    Soothe them before bed. Really snuggle up with your baby before putting them in their crib. If they crave safety and security, you can make them feel this way by giving them a good cuddle. Rock them in your glider, read a story to them, soothe them with a feeding—do what you need to do to make them feel comfortable, but also calm and tired enough to be placed in their crib without any supports. 

5 Great Products To Help With the Transition 

There are some really great products on the market that assist with the swaddle transition.

Before moving to nothing, consider checking out these five items:

  • Weighted sleeper. A weighted sleeper is something your baby wears (but has their arms and legs free). It applies a tiny bit of pressure onto your baby’s chest, so they feel slightly cuddled and surrounded.
  • Sleep blanket. A sleep blanket goes on your baby, over top of their pajamas, and offers a very light layer of coverage and comfort.
  • Sleep sack. A sleep sack is a modified swaddle except it allows your baby’s arms to move freely, as it covers their legs and lower half.
  • Fuzzy pajamas. You can put your baby in thick, fuzzy pajamas if you’re totally done with a swaddle. They have a light amount of weight to them, but are super soft. This is a great way to even move them off a weighted sleeper or a sleep blanket.
  • Mattress insert. Your baby will love to snooze and sink right into a mattress topper. It keeps them in place, is ultra-comfortable, and is an additional comfort and luxury they can enjoy in their crib, without a swaddle. 

Wrapping Up

No more swaddle means your baby is really growing up!

They are moving and grooving, and ready to sleep on their own.

While it may take some time, patience, and effort, consider the signs of readiness and some tips and other products that will help the both of you through this transition time. 

Kate Trout
 

Hi there, I'm Kate! I started Maternity Glow to be a place for new and expecting moms to come to for practical pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and baby care tricks.

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