Swaddling can be a great way to help your newborn settle to sleep as they get used to the outside world. Once practised safely, swaddling is completely safe for your newborn but must come to an end before they reach 6 to 12 weeks old. You may find transitioning your baby out of swaddling difficult if they have gotten used to sleeping in a swaddle from birth. Although every baby is different, the moment your little one shows signs that could put their safety at risk, it is time to leave the swaddle behind. Babogue is here to help guide you on transitioning your baby out of swaddling in the easiest way, to help both you and your baby continue getting a good night’s sleep.
Read our earlier blog on how to swaddle
When Should We Stop Swaddling?
There are a range of signs that indicate swaddling should come to an end. Most babies show signs that they need to be transitioned out of swaddling from 6 to 12 weeks of age. The most important thing to keep in mind with swaddling is your baby’s safety; no matter what age they are, if they grow strong enough to roll over at night, it is vital that you put an end to the swaddling. Likewise, if your baby becomes strong enough to unwrap the swaddle and is left sleeping with loose blankets you must stop wrapping them up! If you find your little one is fighting against the swaddle or want their arms free it is time to transition out of swaddling.
After 6 weeks
If your baby reaches 6 weeks old and continues to sleep soundly and safely in their swaddle there is no rush to transition. If you transition your baby out of swaddling too early your baby’s Moro reflex can mean that neither of you will continue getting valuable sleep.
Moro reflex causes babies to feel as though they are free-falling due to a lack of support, which causes them to rapidly spread out their arms, bring them back in and then curl into a fetal position. This is usually also accompanied by a lot of crying. The Moro reflex is completely natural and healthy, it indicates that your little one’s nervous system is developing and will usually come to an end when your baby reaches the age of 3 to 6 months.
How Do I Transition my Baby From a Swaddle?
Transitioning your baby out of swaddling gradually is the best method to avoid you and your little one’s sleep being disturbed. However, it is important to remember that if your baby is getting out of their swaddle, leaving loose blankets or they are strong enough to roll over while sleeping then you must stop swaddling immediately rather than gradually. If your baby is waking up more often or you notice they have increased arm activity, you can gradually transition them out of swaddling with a few key steps.
There are two different methods you can try first for transitioning your baby. One step to gradually transitioning your baby out of swaddling is to allow your little one’s legs to be free out of the swaddle. Swaddle your baby from above their legs to their shoulders; they will still feel wrapped up and supported but their legs will be free to move around.
Free their little arms
Alternatively, a popular first step is to swaddle your baby with their arms free. If they are comfortable in a swaddle then you can try one arm at a time so that there is as little disruption to their sleep as possible. Try this for a few nights to see how your baby reacts; it is important to be patient and remember that your little one may not be ready to transition from their swaddle yet or it will take them a little bit of time to get used to this change. Once your baby has gotten used to having both arms out of their swaddle, you can then move on to try out a baby sleeping bag! There are a variety of great baby sleeping sacks, also known as wearable blankets, on the market that will work well to help your baby get used to sleeping out of a swaddle.
How Long Does it Take to Transition Out of a Swaddle?
The time it takes to transition your baby out of swaddling can differ, depending on how ready they are to leave the swaddle. We recommend trying out the steps listed above for a few nights at a time, and if successful, this will mean that your little one will be out of their swaddle within 1 to 2 weeks!
Be patient and take your time in trying out different methods to transition out of swaddling, if your baby’s safety is not at risk.
Here at Babogue we offer a range of services to help you and your baby sleep. Erica is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and a member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants. We work with a huge range of families to help them reach their sleep goals. Get in touch with us today to begin your journey to a better night’s sleep for you and your baby.