Worried about how baby will sleep once you stop swaddling? Find out when to stop swaddling baby, plus learn how to do so without losing much sleep.
Swaddling your baby helps recreate that cozy womb-like experience. But transitioning out of the swaddle? Let’s just say that experience can be anything but cozy.
Here’s a bit of good news, though: Eliminating the swaddle doesn’t have to be an abrupt transition. Let’s talk about when to stop swaddling baby, plus how to do so with grace.
When to Stop Swaddling Video
When my baby Faith started rolling over around four months, I knew it was time to transition her out of the swaddle. Check out this video I made to see how we stopped swaddling—without losing too much sleep—and find out which transitional swaddle worked best for us.
When to Stop Swaddling
I hate to break it to you, but those sweet days of swaddling are numbered. But how do you know exactly when to stop swaddling?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you should stop swaddling at 8 weeks, or about two months.
To understand why the AAP makes this recommendation, it’s important to understand why you need to stop swaddling a baby in the first place. It’s important to stop swaddling once baby begins to roll over. It makes sense: When baby is swaddled, his or her arms are locked down. If they roll onto their belly while in this restricted position, it poses a suffocation risk, since baby may have a very difficult time rolling onto their back again.
If two months sounds a little young for a baby to be rolling over, remember that this is a conservative number that accounts for the fact that some babies learn to roll over earlier than others. There are plenty of doctors, including Harvey Karp, who say it’s safe to swaddle until baby is closer to 4 to 5 months old. Bottom line: When to stop swaddling really comes down to your baby and their individual development. Some babies roll over at two months; some don’t roll over until 4 or 5 months.
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How to Stop Swaddling
Since baby is used to being snug as a bug, normal movement may wake them up when you first stop swaddling. Unfortunately, this can cause a bit of a sleep regression.
Slowly transition baby out of the traditional swaddle over the course of a week or so. Start by leaving just one arm out of the swaddle. Once baby gets used to this and is sleeping soundly (anywhere from a few nights to a few weeks), remove the other arm from the swaddle.
Try a transitional swaddle
You can also try a transitional swaddle. These products are specially designed for this tricky phase, and can work wonders. These “swaddles” keep babies a little bit more enclosed so they don’t scratch themselves and provide a little more weight to help prevent them from startling awake, but allow for a greater range of motion than a traditional swaddle. Here are some options:
Zipadee-Zip – When to Stop Swaddling Baby (And How To Do It!) baby post by Mama Natural
This transitional swaddle has a starfish design that provides a large range of motion, but keeps all of babies limbs contained.
Nested Bean – When to Stop Swaddling Baby (And How To Do It!) baby post by Mama Natural
This newer type of transitional swaddle in which the arms are free, but the center has a little weighted sack that provides a little added pressure to make baby feel more secure and comforted—it’s almost as if mom has her hand right on baby’s chest.
Sleep Suit by Crib Culture
Sleep Suit by Crib Culture – When to Stop Swaddling Baby (And How To Do It!) baby post by Mama Natural
This thing is almost like putting your baby in a snowsuit. Because it’s so puffy, it slows down baby’s movement. It also encourages back sleeping—a safer sleep position for young babies.
It’s important to note that overheating is a risk factor for SIDs, so it’s very important to choose a sleep suit with vents, like this one by Crib Culture. You should also check the temperature of your room with a small portable thermostat—a safe sleep temperature for babies is approximately 67-68 degrees.
Use a wearable blanket
Once baby has mastered sleeping with both arms out of the swaddle, they can sleep in their pajamas or in a wearable blanket like this one. Either way is perfectly fine, but some mamas and papas swear the wearable blanket helps their baby sleep. Do what works for you!
To find out when baby can use a blanket, check out this post.
How About You?
When did you stop swaddling? Do you have any special tips for making the transition easier? Share with us in the comments below.