When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby: Transitioning from Swaddle



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Updated on Apr 01, 2024 · 5 mins read
When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby: Transitioning from Swaddle

It’s no secret that sleep is one of the biggest challenges new parents face and transitioning to a sleeping bag is just one factor. There is a lot of confusing advice out there, which can result in you navigating through each sleep challenge (somewhat) blind. Some parents are well-versed in milestones and sleep strategies, while others will simply want to ‘go with the flow’. It doesn’t matter which path you choose in your parenthood journey, as long as it works for your family.

There is one thing though that should never be compromised and that is safety. When it comes to understanding the SIDS guidelines, most will be very well aware of the do’s and don’ts, be sure to put them on their back for sleep, don’t have pillows or toys inside the bassinet, sleep them in the same room as you (ideally) for the first 6 months…the list goes on.

How to Swaddle Your Baby?

  1. Lay the swaddle blanket on a flat surface in a diamond shape (with one corner pointing up).
  2. Fold the top corner down to the centre, about 6 inches.
  3. Place your baby face up on the swaddle blanket, so that their head’s above the folded edge.
  4. Straighten your baby’s arms, then take the left side of the blanket and wrap it over their left arm/chest. Keep the right arm free.
  5. Take the bottom corner up their body, lifting it over your baby’s chest and right arm. Tuck it below their chin.
  6. Pull the right side of the swaddle blanket over your baby’s body, tucking it in snugly under the left side.

When to Stop Swaddling Your Baby?

Just when you’ve finally mastered the art of wrapping or swaddling, you suddenly reach the next milestone – rolling. This is when to stop swaddling.

The scary thing is, a lot of new parents are hesitant to change anything when this occurs. Nobody wants to disrupt a baby’s sleep but it can be dangerous for them to remain wrapped or swaddled. They will need their arms to turn themselves for unobstructed breathing if they roll onto their front.

Experts will recommend that you start a gradual transition away from swaddling once you notice they have hit the rolling milestone. It’s therefore important to be aware of the steps and any sleeping aids before your baby starts rolling.

Why Should You Stop Swaddling Your Baby?

Once your baby shows signs of rolling, the swaddle blanket could suffocate them or cause strangulation with their arms swaddled. This could be a factor in sudden infant death syndrome. To make sure your baby has a safe sleeping environment, it’s best to make sure your start the swaddle transition as soon as they show signs of rolling.

At the same time, you don’t want to stop swaddling cold turkey. Your baby will be born with something called the startle reflex. This is where they can ‘startle’ in response to a loud noise, sudden movement or a sensation of falling i.e when you put them down for sleep without enough support.

It is therefore best to make the transition slowly (not cold turkey), as going straight from ‘arms in’ to ‘arms out’ may cause disruption to their sleep. Starting with one arm out could help. But if you need do need to transition your baby quickly, employing sleep aids (like white noise) could stop night waking and make sure your baby can fall asleep.

How to Transition Baby from Swaddle

Step 1

Start having your baby swaddled with one arm out. Just having the one arm out at first transitions your baby from the startle reflex we mentioned earlier, so we don’t want to cold turkey.

Step 2

Once they’ve adjusted to that, you can trial swaddling them with both arms free. Try doing arms free for a couple of nights, and don’t get frustrated if it’s taking a while. It could even a couple of weeks for them to adjust to arms free, but take it slow so that your baby responds safely to having their arms out (or even just one arm out).

Your baby’s response will let you know if hands free is working. Observe how your baby sleeps in daytime naps, and if they struggle to fall asleep or your baby wakes up often, it might be too early top swaddling. Give it a few weeks break before getting your baby to stop waddling again.

Giving your little one a wearable blanket or a sleeping bag are lovey ways to help your baby transition and stop swaddling.

The team at ergoPouch want to ensure that all babies sleep safely and comfortably throughout every milestone of their development. Knowing that new parents were hesitant to transition due to fear of ‘waking the baby’, they developed the ‘Butterfly Cardi’. This is the perfect solution to help you transition seamlessly and safely, while preventing sleep disruption.

By providing a contained environment, the folder pockets remove the initial shock of going directly to arms-out. This also helps parents feel confident as they navigate this next change in helping your baby sleep and supporting their development.

Step 3

During the day and wake windows, keep at tummy time with your baby. It’s great for their muscle development and to help them start rolling with is great for helping your baby safely sleep without a swaddle blanket.

Once you’re on the way to seeing your baby transition, there are a few ways to support steady nighttime sleep. Having a set sleep routine that soothes and calms them is a great way to start, as well as working on your baby’s sleep environment. Using white noise and dimmed lights can help your baby sleep.

So to wrap it up, swaddling has heaps of benefits for your little one (especially for newborn sleep) ,but once your baby starts showing signs of rolling – that’s your cue to stop swaddling. It becomes a safety hazard for your little groover. The swaddle transition may seem overwhelming, but start with one arm out at a time to see how they go. Using tools like wearable blankets or sleep sacks is super handy for this transition. And soon enough, you’ll see that your baby starts to fall to sleep safely and soundly, swaddle-free!

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