Transitioning Your Baby Out Of A Swaddle
When its time to stop swaddling your baby and change their sleep routine, youll need to transition them. Some babies may be used to sleeping in a swaddle. Taking them out of it might upset them and cause them to cry more during bedtime.
Create a brief transition to help them adjust to their new sleeping method. When theyre showing signs of rolling over, you should take the wrap away. You can replace the full swaddle with a wrap that meets your babys developmental stage. Be sure to keep their arms free while theyre sleeping.
You can still wrap your child with the same method you used for swaddling. Just keep their arms out. You can also use a sleep sack or blanket as helpful tools during the transition.
In a sleep sack, your baby can move around a little. This is different from no mobility with their swaddle. Getting to move around and build their strength is good for their growth. But if they roll over in the night, place them back on their back. Using a sleep sack is also helpful for getting your baby ready to sleep with a blanket when its safe.
Once your child is done with the sleep sack, you can transition them to a wearable blanket. This will get them closer to sleeping with a blanket when theyre older. A wearable blanket lets them move their arms and legs freely without hazards.
Alternating Swaddling And Sleeping Freely
Another method you might like to try is alternating between swaddling your baby and letting them sleep freely, depending on the time of day.
For example, you could begin by letting your little one sleep unswaddled during their naps and swaddling them again to sleep through the night, or vice versa.
While this might sound counterintuitive, letting your baby have some sleeping freedom slowly before removing the swaddle altogether can actually be very effective for some babies.
These techniques might require some trial and error to figure out which method works best for your little one. Practice patience, and soon enough, your baby will be swaddle-free for good.
When Should I Stop Swaddling
There is no definitive answer to this. Within reason, you can stop swaddling your baby whenever you feel its best. However, most pediatricians and child health organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics advise that parents stop swaddling babies at 2 months.
Generally, most parents manage to phase their children out of the swaddle around 3 or 4 months and some a little later than this. To foster greater sleep independence, its advised to start the process whenever your baby seems up to the task, but if they clearly need the swaddle for longer, its okay to phase it out over a more prolonged time frame.
The most important thing is that you start to drop the swaddle when your little one starts rolling over and look out for the important signs below.
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Encourage Your Newborn To Take A Full Feed
If youve opted to breastfeed then you will run into the baby wanting to snack.
Snacking should be avoided for a number of reasons, but as were talking about sleeping, snacking is a good naps worst enemy.
- When a newborn feeds for less than 15 minutes at a time, this is usually snacking.
- When baby sleeps through a feed and thus doesnt get enough milk, they will wake up early to snack again.
First off, snacking means newborns arent full enough to stay asleep because when they transition from active to passive sleep they will wake up.
If your baby falls asleep during a feed, then wake them up. A cold rag, rub their feet, strip them naked, do what it takes.
Newborns need to eat a lot to nap well and if they havent had enough milk during the day you can bet theyll wake up a few extra times in the night to make up for it.
If you want baby to sleep for hours at a time at night, give full feeds during the day.
Swaddle With One Arm In And One Arm Out
Another method for a gradual transition is to swaddle your baby with one arm in the swaddle and one arm out. This approach gives your baby the security and comfort theyre used to, while getting them used to sleeping without the blanket.
Start with one arm out for a couple of nights, and then both arms out for a couple of nights before completely removing the blanket.
You can use this method with a regular swaddle blanket. Or, purchase a swaddle that allows the arms to be in or out. Consider these two available online: Nested Bean Zen Swaddle or the embé 2-Way Transition Swaddle Sack.
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How Long Should You Swaddle Your Baby
Is there a particular age you should stop swaddling your little one? Whats the hard-and-fast rule to follow? Unfortunately, the answer isnt always so straightforward.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents start to wean their infants off swaddling when they begin to show signs of trying to roll over. They add that many babies start working on rolling at around 2 months of age.
But not all babies start that early. Other studies have shown that babies will typically begin rolling somewhere between three and six months of age.
Aside from rolling over, its also worth noting that not all babies enjoy being swaddled and may become restless quicker than others. For some, it might make sleeping difficult, resulting in a fussy baby and sleep-deprived parents.
So, if you find your little one isnt happy in the swaddle anymore, dont feel like you have to wait it out. Its perfectly fine to stop swaddling before your baby reaches a certain age or begins to break free from the swaddle during the night.
As each child is unique, its essential to look at other indicators that theyre ready to leave swaddling behind. Thats what well dive into now.
Consistently Breaking The Swaddle
Is your little one getting strong enough to break out of their swaddle blanket?
While this may not be a definite indicator that its time to stop swaddling, the concern here is that every time they punch or kick away the blanket, this leaves loose fabric in the crib.
Unfortunately, having loose swaddles in the crib is a possible strangulation or suffocation hazard. And this doesnt just apply to swaddles bedding, blankets, clothing, and any other type of loose fabric is a danger for your little one.
Sadly, of the 3,500 sleep-related infant deaths recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year, many cases are caused by items in the crib, like loose bedding.
If your baby is breaking free from the swaddle at just a couple of weeks old, theyre obviously still very little and not ready to stop being swaddled. You might just need to brush up on your swaddling technique to make sure your baby is secure in the swaddle.
On the other hand, if they are older, this might be a sign that they no longer want to be swaddled.
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How Do You Know If Your Baby Is Comfortable
Given that babies cant talk, it can feel like were left to decode their every coo and cry. Sometimes we get it right. Other times? Not so much. But parents quickly learn to pick up on their babys cues and look to them as insightful clues.
If your nugget is fed and changed but still acting distressed, they may be uncomfortable or too hot or cold. Of course, there are some noteworthy physical indicators to look for too.
Perspiration, rash, wet hair, red cheeks, and quickened breathing are a few signs that a baby is potentially overheating. Note that a babys extremities might remain cold to the touch, as their tiny circulatory system is still developing.
When in doubt, feel the skin on your babys neck, tummy, or chest. If these areas are hot or sweaty, youll want to take immediate action to get them cooler. Remember, overheating has been linked to SIDS, so lower the room temperature and/or remove one layer and check back in a few minutes.
While overheating is certainly the bigger concern, youll also want to make sure that your wee one is not too cold. If you notice that your infants hands and feet are looking slightly blueish, it might be time to turn up the heat or add a layer. Dont panic those cute fingers and toesies should return to their regularly rosy state in no time.
What About Tummy Time For Babies
All babies need some tummy time every day. Being on the tummy helps babies develop head and neck control as well as core muscles, explained Harvey. Do tummy time from day one, one minute three times a day, fully supported, she said. That is, place baby on your chest. Then, when baby is able to arch his back and lift his head and neck, transition to tummy time on the floor. Your pediatrician can advise you on the right time to do this, but its usually when babys around two to three weeks old.
Harvey recommended adding a minute to each session for every week of age based on your babys due date. That means that by the time your baby is 15 weeks old or is 15 weeks post due date he should be having 15 minutes of tummy time, three times a day. Tummy time helps prevent SIDS by strengthening muscles that allow babies to move their head if they get caught against a stuffed toy, bumper, mattress or something else.
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What Are The Benefits Of Swaddling My Little One
Often people say swaddling seems to help calm their little one, helping them settle more easily and sleep for longer. Yet there is little research to support these theories.
Its also thought that swaddling prevents unnecessary wake-ups caused a babys startle reflex . This is because a swaddled babys arms and legs will be contained as theyre wrapped gently in a blanket. That means they will be less likely to startle themselves awake with their flailing limbs.
A growing parenting trend considers the first three months of your babys life to be a transitional fourth trimester. The idea is that the first three months of your babys life is a complex transition period for them after they emerge from the womb to the outside world . Considering this, it makes sense that babies would enjoy being wrapped gently so they feel secure like they did in the womb.
Medical opinion on whether swaddling is a good practice or not is divided. So, if youre considering swaddling your baby, make sure you always follow safe swaddling guidelines to protect your little one.
Dont Assume The Mellow Sleepy Newborn Phase Will Last Forever
We hate to break it to you, but your dozy, peaceful infant who simply falls asleep, milk-drunk, after a feeding may not always be this way. The first few weeks are not always indicative of the kind of sleeper you happened to score in the newborn sleep lottery. Some babies randomly sleep through the night early on but it doesnt mean this will continue indefinitely. Have you weathered the four-month sleep regression yet? Yeah, you might want to read up on that. And even though nursing to sleep or rocking to sleep before naps and bedtime might be working for you now, know that sometimes IT JUST STOPS WORKING. If youre one of the lucky parents with a unicorn baby , try not to gloat. It doesnt necessarily mean that youre doing it right, while that other mom with the colicky, sleepless baby hasnt figured it out. Believe us, shes trying.
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Is It Safer To Swaddle My Baby For Sleep
Many parents are told to swaddle their newborns for sleeping. Although swaddling is safer than using a blanket , if a baby is swaddled at an older age than what is recommended, there is still a danger the swaddled baby will roll onto their stomach and be trapped face-down. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies always sleep face-up. Swaddling can also lead to overheating if it is combined with dressing the baby in several layers.
If you do choose to swaddle your baby, always place them on their back and leave room in the swaddle for their hips and knees to move. You should stop swaddling your baby before they start trying to roll over, which happens around the 3-month mark at the earliest.
How Do You Get Your Baby To Sleep Without Being Swaddled
Instead of swaddling your infant, you may consider using sleep clothing such as a wearable blanket or a sleeping sack.Keep in mind, if the item you choose constricts your babyâs arms, chest, or body, stop using it when you see that your baby is attempting to roll over on her own.If you choose a garment that doesnât constrict the arms, you can use it as long as you like.You may also consider trying some soothing techniques to help your baby get to sleep. For example, create a relaxing bedtime routine that may include a bath, a massage, a bedtime story, or a little quiet cuddle time.You may also find that playing soft music or creating white noise can help your baby fall asleep.Whether your baby is swaddled or not, make sure you place him in his crib on his back, as this is the safest sleeping position.
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Swaddling A Baby Pros And Cons
When considering swaddling your baby and assessing safety concerns, it’s important to weigh the benefits and risks. It’s also reasonable to ask questions like: Is it good to swaddle a baby? How long should babies be swaddled? When and why is swaddling not recommended? Do babies sleep longer when swaddled? Are there swaddling techniques that make it safer?
What Happens If I Dont Swaddle Transition
Babies who are swaddled too tightly and for too long may develop a problem with their hips. Studies have found that straightening and tightly wrapping a babys legs can lead to hip dysplasia, which is an abnormal development of the hip joint.
Also, swaddling promotes extra deep sleep. While this might sound like a good thing for a baby, it is potentially harmful in some situations where they might find it hard to wake up from an unsafe sleeping situation.
Also, waking up and crying is a basic sign that your baby needs something, whether thats feeding, changing, or a change of position. Not being able to wake up properly could prevent them from communicating their basics needs, and having them met.
Finally, as weve mentioned, swaddling once your baby can roll over increases the risk for SIDS as it is less likely that they will be able to roll back over to their back when in the swaddle, causing them to sleep face down.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention , around 3,500 infants die annually from sleep-related deaths and many may be a result of children not sleeping on their backs, which is widely recommended by childrens health organizations around the world.
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