Swaddling Transition – How And When To Stop Swaddling

Swaddling transition is a painful concern for most new moms. That’s because most newborns sleep like angels when swaddled but can turn into little devils when the swaddle is out of sight.

If not so long ago new parents kept asking why to swaddle the baby in the first place, today’s question is why, when, and how to stop swaddling. Find it out in the guide below.

Why Should You Swaddle Your Baby?

Swaddling has been a controversial practice for years. Used since the earliest times, this practice gained a negative reputation and modern parents thought it was just “barbarian” to wrap a newborn in a piece of muslin cloth.

However, time proved these parents wrong. Studies, research, and newborn behavior have shown that swaddling  soothes newborns, making them feel relaxed and protected. This not only improves sleep but reduces colic and ultimately, it even reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome – at least up to a certain age.

If you don’t believe swaddling is beneficial, just try it on your baby. You’ll see how a simple piece of cloth can comfort a fussy infant in seconds.

Due to this benefits, swaddling transition raises fear. What will happen with your baby’s sleep? When should you stop swaddling? And how to do it?

We’ve answered all these questions below. So, keep reading to find out all the secrets to swaddle weaning.

When Should You Stop Swaddling

According to the American Association of Pediatricians, you should stop swaddling when the baby is about four months of age. But like anything that has to do with a baby, this age is only indicative. Some babies may benefit from swaddling up to 9 months. Others will “ask” you to stop swaddling earlier.

To make swaddling transition easier, you should look for signs that show you when the baby is ready to give up the protective wrap.

In broad lines, you should stop swaddling when the baby gets so active that you find her with one or both arms out after a session of sleep. Another sign a swaddle may be unnecessary is if the baby wakes up several times a night for no apparent reason.

You should also stop swaddling as soon as the baby is strong enough to turn on her tummy while sleeping. At this stage, a swaddle becomes unsafe and poses a higher risk of SIDS.

The baby can also help you understand whether it’s the time to stop wrapping her or not. To check for the signs, either wrap the baby looser or swaddle her leaving one arm out. If your bundle of joy copes well with this changes, it may be a sign that she’s ready to ditch the muslin cloth.

Yet, even if the baby is ready to wean from the swaddle, this process may be harsh for everyone involved. Therefore, let’s see how to stop swaddling the baby.

How To Wean The Baby From Swaddle?

There are essentially two ways to stop swaddling, either a sudden stop or a mild transition. The sudden stop of swaddling is the fastest way to wean your baby from being wrapped like a burrito. However, this approach is the harshest.

Expect up to a week of sleepless nights and dealing with a fussy baby. In fact, babies don’t like change and this will mess her routine a little bit.

Alternatively, you can opt for a smooth transitioning from swaddling to no swaddling. This process is lengthier but it is the most preferred by parents and recommended by pediatricians.

To wean the baby from swaddling, start by swaddling her with one arm out and check the reaction. If the baby likes the change, swaddle her with both arms out while wrapping the legs looser. Again, check the reaction of the baby.

Respect your newborn’s pace. If he doesn’t like the change, go back to swaddling for at least one more week. If he’s not too fussy about it, continue with the transition. Allow at least a couple of days to each stage, to give the baby enough time to get used to the new condition.

Once the baby is comfortable to sleep with both arms out, you can completely give up the swaddle.

Swaddling Transition: Tips To Make It Easier

Some babies are perfectly happy to give up the swaddle without fuss. Others may object to it with crying and fussiness. If this is the case, here are some tips to make the transition easier.

  • Replace the swaddle with a sleep sack. These amazing products not only keep the baby contained, but they are also a great alternative to blankets. Sleep sacks reduce the risk of SIDS and some even come with “wings” that allow wrapping the baby in a swaddle-like style. Just make sure the sack is made of cotton and that it closes with a zip from top to bottom.
  • Use toddler bumpers. Place them on the sides of the crib, under the sheets. The sheets will keep the bumpers in place while the bumpers will give your baby a sense of containment, soothing and comforting her throughout the night. Rolled blankets can replace the bumpers with the same effect.
  • Give your baby a sleep buddy. This practice is controversial but there are some stuffed animals which are considered safe to sleep with. However, make sure to ask your pediatrician for advice and only choose a toy that is super-safe for the baby. Instead of a toy, you can also try soothing the baby with a pacifier – just make sure you remove it from the crib as soon as the baby is asleep.
  • Invest in a white noise machine. A way to comfort a baby is with a white noise machine. Remember that your little one has lived in a contained and noisy environment inside the womb. Since you’re taking away the swaddle, at least give your baby the comfort of white noise.
  • Try co-sleeping. Invest in a bassinet that allows you to keep the newborn close to you while making the swaddling transition. By feeling you close, the baby can soothe herself to sleep even without a swaddle.

Another thing to account for is that more often than not, swaddle weaning coincides with the four months sleep regression period. If you notice that the baby is fussy and can’t sleep even when swaddled then the source of his fussiness may be this harsh period that changes his sleeping routine. If this is the case, know that it’s probably safe to make the swaddling transition – at least your baby will get used to both changes at the same time.

Bottom Line

Sooner or later, all babies will have to go through the swaddling transition phase. And like on all other moments, you’re the one who knows best what your baby needs and how to address this need. Don’t be afraid to transition when you feel it’s the time – whether this is earlier or later than the recommended four months.

Also, don’t be afraid to listen to your baby’s signals. Swaddle weaning is different for every child but following your baby’s pace can translate into a smoother experience for everyone involved.

So, don’t be afraid. Just get ready for swaddling transition and take it easy. In the end, your baby will get used to the new routine and will get back to sleeping like an angel all night long. 

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