There's nothing cuter than seeing your baby wrapped up in a swaddle- the perfect little burrito! It's comfortable, cozy, and the ideal way to create a womb-like environment for your newborn. It's also a helpful method to soothe fussy babies and calm them if they are having trouble sleeping. But once your baby shows signs of rolling (usually between 3-5 months of age) or begins to break out of the swaddle, it's time to start planning to transition into a new sleep solution.
You may ask yourself, why transition them when they seem content in their swaddle? The answer comes down to safety. Once your baby becomes more mobile, swaddling can be dangerous, and if your baby starts to turn over on their side or tummy, it could put them at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). So, while this swaddle transition can seem daunting, especially after you've mastered the art of swaddling, it's critical for your baby's safety and development to take this next step!
How do you transition out of a swaddle?
So, now that you know it's time to transition your baby out of their swaddle, the big question arises - how to do it? The good news is that you can take a few different approaches to help transition your baby out of a swaddle. The first one is to "just do it" and immediately move your baby from a swaddle into a sleep sack. This cold turkey approach is a good option for babies who don't like being swaddled, have begun breaking out of the swaddle, or have begun to self-soothe. Remember you can also try using a sleep sack at nap time and then swaddle at nighttime until you can completely wean them from the swaddle.
If the all-or-nothing approach is not your style, another great option is to use a swaddle that can be worn multiple ways, such as the Dream Weighted Sleep Swaddle. The Dream Swaddle can be worn three ways, both arms in, one arm in, or both arms out, to effortlessly adapt to your baby's changing sleep needs and provide them with the security and comfort they deserve during this transition period. To get started, wrap the integrated swaddle band over only one arm, leaving the other arm free. This approach can help them gradually adjust to having their arms free. After trying one arm out for a few days, you can take the next step and have both arms out of the sack. This step-by-step approach will help make the transition to a sleep sack easier on baby and you!
The third option is to consider an alternative sleep solution. Enter the Weighted Transition Swaddle, a sleep sack specifically designed to ensure an easy transition from swaddling.
What is a Transition Swaddle?
A Transition Swaddle is a wearable blanket/sleep sack that features sleeves to provide security for your baby while helping to reduce the Moro (startle) reflex. The Dream Weighted Transition Swaddle is unique in that the sleeves are gently weighted to provide ultimate comfort and security. It's ideal for babies who no longer want to be swaddled but still crave the secure and snug fit around their arms. It also provides a safe transition from a “traditional” swaddle for babies who show signs of rolling as their arms remain free.
It's important to remember that according to the American Academy of Pediatric (AAP) Safe Sleep Guidelines, infants should always be placed on their back to sleep in a bare crib – no toys, loose blankets, or plush animals. The Transition Swaddle helps with safe sleep as there is no need for a blanket in the crib. The Weighted Transition Swaddle is 100% cotton to avoid overheating. Unlike some bulky transition swaddle alternatives on the market, the Weighted Transition Swaddle has a 1.2 TOG for year-round use and temperature regulation.
When to transition out of a swaddle
All babies are different, and while some love to be swaddled, others simply want to break free! The bottom line is that it's no longer safe to swaddle your baby once they start to roll over or have become a swaddle escape artist. The Dream Weighted Transition Swaddle is ready to come to your rescue with two different sizes depending on when your baby shows signs that it's time to stop swaddling:
- Size Small, indicated for babies 3-6 months, 12-16 lbs, and 23-26 inches
- Size Large, indicated for babies 6-9 M, 15+ lbs, and 26-28 inches
While your baby may be ready to say goodbye to the swaddle for good, most still love the feeling of being held. That is precisely why a Transition Swaddle can help ease the transition from swaddling, as it provides a snug fit around the torso and arms while still allowing freedom of movement. Your baby will love the feeling of being hugged, and you'll love knowing you're providing the safest post-swaddle sleep solution for them.
Does a Transition Swaddle Help with Moro reflex?
The Moro or startle reflex usually occurs when a baby is startled by a loud sound or unexpected movement. In response, your baby might extend their arms or legs or throw their head back and possibly begin crying. You may also see it happen as you put your little one in their crib, which can frequently give them a sensation of falling. The Moro reflex is completely normal and can start at birth and may last until your baby is between 4 and 6 months.
While there is no way to prevent the Moro reflex, there are ways to help calm a baby experiencing it. These include lowering your baby into the crib horizontally, so they don’t tilt their head and holding them close as you lower them so they are comforted by your proximity as they get settled into the crib. Another option is to use our Dream Weighted Swaddle or Dream Transition Swaddle, as the gentle weight can help babies experiencing the Moro reflex feel a sense of security. The Weighted Transition Swaddle features innovative weighted arms that can help control the reflex by giving your little one the sensation of being swaddled. Which ultimately helps them feel calm, so they can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. As with all Dreamland Baby products, the Weighted Transition Swaddle was designed in collaboration with pediatricians, NICU nurses, and certified sleep consultants and approved by pediatric pulmonologists for breathing safety and is an excellent option for babies still experiencing the Moro reflex.
Can a baby move freely in a Transition Swaddle?
A Transition Swaddle is designed to accommodate babies who are rolling. In the Weighted Transition Swaddle, your baby's arms remain free, so it's safe for them to roll or do anything they would do in a regular sleep sack with the added benefit of the gently weighted arm feature to help them feel secure. Like all of Dreamland's gently weighted sleep solutions, the Dream Weighted Transition Swaddle is 10% or less body weight so that your little one can roll, sit, stand, and move easily and comfortably while wearing it. Also, the hip-healthy design allows your baby to move their legs freely. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute has acknowledged the Weighted Transition Swaddle as a "hip-healthy" product when used as directed.
And, of course, parents and caregivers can use the two-way zipper for easy diaper changes. The zipper, which opens from the top and bottom of the sack, is ultra-convenient and fuss-free to ensure clothing and diaper changes can be handled easily!
Help Ensure a Safe & Easy Transition from Swaddling
The ideal time to transition your baby out of a swaddle is when your baby is showing signs of rolling or has begun to break out of a traditional swaddle. You can take a few different approaches to ease this transition but a Transition Swaddle is one of the safest and most successful options.
As mentioned, the Dream Weighed Transition Swaddle is a particularly effective "transition" from swaddling due to the innovative gently weighted arm feature that can help control the Moro reflex and allow your baby freedom of movement and the ability to roll over safely. The Weighted Transition Swaddle provides babies the comfort they need to help them fall asleep more quickly and to self-soothe when they experience the startle sensation. It also ensures temperature regulation and gives parents and caregivers the confidence that baby will feel snug and secure without any danger of overheating. The Transition Swaddle gives your baby the feeling of being hugged while leaving their arms free so they can fall back asleep if they are startled awake and sleep for longer stretches – which means your whole family can get the sound sleep you deserve!
So yes, the good news is there is life, or we should say, sleep after swaddling is no longer an option! You can stop swaddling cold turkey, try the one-arm-out approach, the naptime-only approach, or move to a Transition Swaddle. All of these are excellent ways to help your baby transition out of the swaddle. And while your baby might have some trouble sleeping during this period, just remember that with so many things, baby, time, and patience are key and will help you get to this important milestone in your baby’s sleep journey.
Swaddle Transitioning: FAQs
Can you stop swaddling cold turkey?
When it comes to transitioning out of the swaddle, you can do it cold turkey. You can simply stop using the swaddle completely and move your baby onto a sleep sack. However, your baby may get fussy as they won’t have a chance to get adjusted to the sleep sack.
A better option is to transition them gradually. This involves taking one arm out of the swaddle for naps. Then take the other arm out. Then try it for the full sleep period, and so on, until they are ready for the sleep sack.
Alternatively, you can switch them to a transition swaddle before introducing the sleep sack. A transition swaddle has features of both a sleep sack and a swaddle so it can ease them through the sleep swaddle transition process. Disrupting your baby’s sleep isn’t fun for either of you. A transition swaddle can help avoid any unnecessary loss of sleep or discomfort.
Why is gradually unswaddling a baby important?
Babies like to be swaddled because it provides them with womb-like comfort to help them get to sleep and keep them asleep. When babies start rolling over, they may not want to be restricted by the swaddle, but they may still require the swaddle’s soothing environment to help them rest. Without the swaddle, they may be unable to sleep.
When you gradually transition from swaddle to sleep sack, you will get them used to going from one to another so there won’t be too much fussing. Your baby, and hence your entire family, will get the sleep they require.
What is the point of a transition swaddle?
A transition swaddle has features of both a swaddle and a sleep sack. It still swaddles the legs, but it has more room for the legs to move around.
Transition swaddle designs will differ at the arm area. Some have a tank design letting the arms move freely. Others are long sleeved and have covers over the hands to keep the baby from scratching itself. A parent favorite are weighted transition swaddles that are proven to calm the baby and prevent the Moro (startle) reflex that can wake your baby. As a result, you and your baby can enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep.
While the varying designs of a transition swaddle can give it a slightly different purpose, it basically serves to soothe the baby, like a swaddle, while still providing it with room to move around. It’s perfect for babies that are starting to roll over, but still want the comfort of their swaddle.
How long does it take to transition a baby out of a swaddle?
Most babies will get used to sleeping without a swaddle after 1-2 weeks. However, a younger baby who is still experiencing the Moro reflex may startle themselves awake regularly if they are without their swaddle making for a longer sleep swaddle transition period. Other developmental factors may also come into play.
If you use swaddle transition products, it’s advisable to stick with them for a few months. Start when you see signs of the baby rolling over (this typically starts around three months) and move on to the sleep sack when they can fully roll over (usually around six months).
At what age do babies stop startling themselves awake?
The Moro Reflex (what startles them awake) starts at birth. Young babies can startle themselves awake due to loud noise or a sensation that they are falling. While this is a normal sign of development, it typically startles the baby awake so they cry and have difficulty falling back to sleep.
Fortunately, the Moro Reflex doesn’t last forever. It will typically begin to fade around 2 to 4 months and it should go away completely at the six-month mark.
What do you transition to after swaddling?
You have a couple of choices when considering what to transition to after swaddling.
Sleep sack: It’s possible to transition your baby straight to a sleep sack after swaddling. However, many babies will find the sleep sack gives them too much freedom. They may still require the comfort a swaddle provides. The sleep sack may also be too big for them at this point in time.
Regular blankets: Another option is to put your baby in a onesie and place blankets in their crib. However, blankets can pose a risk of SIDs. It’s also likely your baby will toss off the blankets as they move around so they will do little to comfort them.
Transition swaddle: A transition swaddle is an ideal solution as it provides the comfort of a sleep sack while still giving your baby the freedom to move around.
Are transition swaddles safe?
Transition swaddles are generally safe. They should be designed to stay put on the baby’s body, so they do not pose the risk of SIDS. Transition swaddles should work to keep your baby safer and happier, but safety can depend on the design. To ensure the safety of your transition swaddle, choose a trusted brand such as Dreamland. Dreamland’s transition swaddle is designed in collaboration with pediatricians, NICU nurses, and Certified Sleep consultants. It’s approved by Pediatric Pulmonologist for breathing safety and acknowledged by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute as a “hip healthy” product used as directed.
If you choose to shop other brands, a safe transition swaddle should meet the following minimum requirements:
- No threads, ties, drawstrings, or beadings attachments: While these types of detailing can be attractive, they pose a safety risk for babies.
- Low fire hazard: The transition swaddle should be made of a low fire hazard material to ensure your baby is safe. Typically, the label will tell you if the material is low fire hazard.
- No zippers: Zippers are convenient for providing easy access to the baby’s diaper, but they can also scratch your baby.
- Opt for cotton: Try to find a transition swaddle in organic cotton or another material that won’t irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.
- Evenly distributed weight: Some transition swaddles are weighted which can further help soothe your baby to sleep. However, the weighted material must be evenly distributed across your baby’s body. It should be well fastened in the lining so as not to leak. The weighted material should be made with nontoxic ingredients that are safe for your baby. Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sacks feature CoverCalm Technology which evenly distributes weight as well as non-toxic and BPA-free inner beads.