Have you recently welcomed your little one? If so, you are probably becoming familiar with diaper changes, feeding times, and swaddling your newborn baby. Swaddling is the practice of wrapping your baby in a snug blanket, and it has been used for centuries as an effective soothing tool. Swaddling helps recreate the womb environment, calm a colicky baby, and muffle the startle reflex. It provides a sense of safety and security for your baby, helping them fall asleep faster. However, as your baby grows, their need for swaddling changes. Here are some key signs to look for to determine the best time to stop swaddling and transition to a sleep sack.
When to Stop Swaddling
It is important to find the right age to stop swaddling your baby. As your baby grows, they require more movement throughout the day and night. Swaddling for too long can limit their mobility. Most babies transition out of swaddling between 2 to 3 months old.
Signs to Know When to Stop Swaddling
There are several signs to watch for that indicate it is time to stop swaddling your baby:
Baby is showing signs of rolling
If your baby is showing interest in rolling or has already started rolling, it is no longer safe to swaddle them. Rolling movements include rolling hips side to side, getting their body up on their shoulder, and moving in a circle while on their back. Swaddling restricts arm mobility, which increases the risk of SIDS.
Baby is starting to resist the swaddle
As your baby grows stronger, they may resist being swaddled. This is a normal part of development and indicates that they are ready to have their arms free.
Baby is breaking out of the swaddle
If your baby is able to break out of the swaddle on their own, it is no longer considered safe for sleep.
The startle reflex has diminished
As your baby grows, the Moro reflex (startle reflex) decreases. When you notice that the sudden jerking movements are happening less often, it is a good time to transition your baby out of the swaddle.
How to Transition From a Swaddle
Once your baby is showing signs that they are ready to move out of the swaddle, you can start transitioning to a sleep sack. There are different methods you can try:
If your baby is not yet rolling but shows other signs of readiness for a sleep sack, a gradual transition can work well. Start by leaving one arm out of the swaddle for about three nights while keeping the other arm snug. Then, move to having both arms out but continue swaddling the body. Finally, transition to a traditional sleep sack. You can use the same progression during naps.
If your baby is already rolling or you prefer a faster approach, you can switch from swaddling to a sleep sack overnight. Although there may be a few nights of sleep disturbances, this method is usually quicker. Make sure to choose a safe and comfortable sleep sack for your baby.
Use a transitional suit
If your baby is not rolling, you can try using a transitional suit or sleep sack. These suits provide a less contained sleeping environment and help muffle the startle reflex. The transitional suit is best used before transitioning to a traditional sleep sack. Swaddle Sleeves are highly recommended for this method.
How to Help During the Sleep Sack Transition
Some babies may experience disrupted sleep or have difficulty falling asleep during the transition from a swaddle to a sleep sack. You can try the following techniques to help soothe them:
Introduce white noise if you haven’t already. It can be a calming sound for your baby and help them settle to sleep.
Use a ladder technique to gradually increase soothing tools. Start with minimal intervention and slowly add more soothing techniques, such as long shushing sounds, a pacifier, and gentle patting or rubbing. If needed, pick your baby up until they are calm or back to sleep before laying them down in their safe sleep space. It’s normal to use this ladder technique for a few days during the transition.