Swaddling is a soothing technique that has been used to help babies sleep for centuries. Wrapping your newborn snuggly in a blanket or other swaddling product can help them to feel safe, secure, and happy so that they can settle down and sleep soundly. But swaddling doesn’t last forever. Eventually, there will come a time that you need to stop swaddling your baby. When will that be? Keep reading to learn the signs to look for, so you know when to stop swaddling.
Rolling Back to Front
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the safest position for babies to sleep in is on their backs on a flat surface. And while this is easy enough to do with a newborn, eventually, all babies are going to learn to roll over. From the very first time you see your baby roll over on their playmat, you should begin to transition them out of the swaddle; once a baby learns this skill, it quickly becomes easy for them to repeat it over and over, even in their sleep.
This is the top sign that you need to stop swaddling your baby. If they can roll from their back to their tummy while swaddled, they won’t have the assistance of their arms to help them lift and turn their heads to the side or to roll back over. This can leave them face down in their crib or bassinet, which is not a safe sleep position for your baby.
Of course, every baby learns to roll over at a different time, so there’s no exact timeframe in which you’ll need to stop swaddling. Just watch for baby to start rolling over, and you’ll know it’s time to start transitioning them out of the swaddle.
They Just Don’t Like It
The vast majority of babies love to be swaddled, and it can really help them to sleep better at night, as well as during naps. However, there are some babies who just don’t like the feeling of a swaddle. This becomes more common as babies get older and become more aware that their movements are being restricted. If your baby grunts and wriggles a lot in their swaddle, or if they’re constantly managing to wiggle out of it, you may find yourself transitioning out of it even before they learn to roll.
We do recommend that you continue trying to swaddle for a while, as your baby may just need a little time to get used to the feeling of being swaddled. You can try different swaddling techniques and products to see if this helps. But if not, you might need to find other sleep solutions for your baby.
They Stop Sleeping Well
If your baby has been sleeping well, but suddenly starts waking up fussy much more often than before, they may be ready to move out of that swaddle. Your baby may show signs of discomfort during these wakings, such as fighting against their swaddle. Of course, there are many reasons a baby can stop sleeping well, but if you’re seeing clear signs that the swaddle is impeding, rather than helping with your child’s sleep, it’s time to get rid of it.
Making the Switch
The hardest part about switching out of the swaddle is that it can disrupt your baby’s sleep patterns. Your good sleeper may start waking up every couple of hours again without the comfort of their swaddle. Many parents will ease their child out of the swaddle by first swaddling with one arm out of the swaddle for a week, then with both arms out, swaddling only around the chest. If you prefer, you can also look into swaddle transition products to make the switch even easier.
Now that you know when to stop swaddling, be on the lookout for these signs so that you can make the transition easier on both you and your baby.