When to Stop Swaddling a Baby

Swaddling has been around for a very long time, and that’s because it works. Swaddling a baby means wrapping them snugly in a blanket. This can help a baby feel safe and secure, and studies show that it might even help prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Swaddling mimics the tight quarters and warmth of the mother’s womb, and that might be why it helps babies sleep better, allows them to sleep more soundly on their back and can make babies wake up more easily if something is amiss with them. Though babies love to be swaddled, they outgrow it quickly. So the question is when and how to stop swaddling a baby?

When to Stop Swaddling a Baby

image001By the time a baby reaches about three months, they are typically tired of being swaddled and want their room to move. Though each baby is different, and some might prefer to be swaddled much longer than two months of age, remember that safety is paramount. If your baby is able to roll over, you should not swaddle them any longer; that’s because a baby who can roll over could push their face into the bed covers and not be able to use their arms to push themselves out of it, and thus might suffocate.

Also keep in mind that keeping a baby too warm has been shown to increase the risk of SIDS. That’s why you should never overdress the baby, and keep the child’s room comfortable, at about 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If swaddling the baby will make it too warm, avoid swaddling or turn down the heat.

How to Stop Swaddling a Baby

Many babies get very accustomed to swaddling and might have trouble falling to sleep without it. If you are dealing with that problem, there are some tried-and-true ways to stop swaddling a baby that will allow them a nice transition into life without the swaddling cloth. You can do this by providing “sleep triggers” that will help them fall asleep at the proper time. Start with a warm bath, and feed them right before bed. Sing them a song or tell them a story, preferably the same one each time, until they get accustomed to falling asleep at that time.

You can also reduce the swaddling from a tight one to a much looser one, taking a few days with each stage, until the baby is wrapped loosely, but not tightly enough that they can’t move their arms around freely. Wrapping the baby up to just chest height for a few weeks might allow them time to get accustomed to not having the swaddle, and soon they will sleep soundly without it.

Watch a video for how to stop swaddling:

Experiences of Moms to Stop Swaddling a Baby

These moms have gone through question of when to stop swaddling, and they found success, just like you can.

Case 1 –Stop Swaddling at Month Four

“I had always read that it was a good idea to stop swaddling at four months. I just wanted to stop swaddling my daughter when she was old enough to roll over, because I was very concerned about what might happen if she rolled over in a swaddle. Not a good thing to think about! A month ago (when she was about 4 months old) she got to the point where she loved to suck on her fingers. I know that is a sign that a baby can soothe themselves with the sucking, so I figured it was time to allow her the space to suckle while she was in the crib alone, so that maybe she would put herself back to sleep if she woke up. I kept it a little loose at first and I noticed that every time she slept, she would work one arm out of the swaddle. I started to wonder if she was spending more time and energy on getting that arm out, and maybe that was why she didn’t sleep through the night? Last week I decided to get rid of the swaddle, cold turkey, and see what happened. Would you believe she slept through the entire night? She let me know when it was time to get rid of that swaddle, and I’m glad I did! We are all getting so much more sleep now.”

Case 2-- Stop Swaddling at Month Seven

“I know a lot of people stop swaddling when a baby is two or three months old, but to be honest, my baby is still loving the swaddle – and she’s seven months old. I know that sounds like she’s a really late bloomer, but she loves it so much that I just can’t bear to take it away from her yet. I thought that maybe she wasn’t rolling over at the time she should, and so I tried taking away the swaddle, to see if that would make a difference. It actually made things so much worse! She literally could not sleep without the swaddle. Then we tried a loose swaddle, and that didn’t work either, because she would work her way out and be wide awake. We have finally done it in stages…we started with a potato sack gown, one that keeps her arms inside, and we did it for naps only. She seemed to like that quite a bit. Then we used a gown that uncovered her hands only. She seemed to like it a bit, but not as much, so we stayed with that for a few days. Then she moved to pajamas, and it finally worked! Of course, we did things that she would associate with sleep, such as singing to her and talking to her as we were getting her ready for bed. We also made sure she had a full tummy before she went down for the night. Each stage of this took at least three days, but we were patient, and now she is sleeping soundly without a swaddling at all.”


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