- Your baby is rolling over from back to tummy.
- You have an escape artist who consistently gets out of his swaddle.
- A baby who normally sleeps soundly isn't anymore.
Here we'll address the tell-tale signs that your little one is ready to transition out of their swaddle as well as how to make that transition go as smoothly as possible. Your baby may be growing, but that doesn't mean that her sleep isn't just as important as it's always been.
How to Know When it's Time to Stop Swaddling Your Baby
It's really important to pay attention to developmental signs from your unique child about when to stop swaddling. Try your best to avoid advice similar to, "Well, my son was 5 months old when he stopped swaddling and so that's what your baby should be doing, too." Ultimately, you'll be doing best by your baby by letting him show you when it's time.
With that said, it's definitely nice to know when a new milestone might be heading your way soon. That way you can be prepared when it does because it will be here before you know it. You can likely expect your baby to show signs that they are ready to stop swaddling between 3 - 5 months of age. But it is completely normal for your baby to show these signs sooner or later than that. If it's later - don't worry! As long as baby is happy and safe in their swaddle, there is no reason to stop.
Now let's get into those signs that your baby is ready to move on from swaddled sleep.
1. Your baby is rolling over from back to tummy.
When placing a baby in their crib to sleep, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the baby always be laid down on their back. For those first few months, this is an easy enough task. You swaddle your baby exactly the way she likes and you place her on her back as she falls asleep. When she wakes, she's right there on her back like you left her.
But then one day, she's playing on her play mat, and she rolls over for the very first time. Usually, once your baby learns this exciting skill, it's easy enough for her to do it again and again. This is your clearest sign that it's time to stop swaddling your baby for sleeping. Even if she hasn't rolled over before while swaddled, she will have the ability to do so. For safety reasons, it's important to stop swaddling. This can happen as early as 2 months but will be much longer for others. You'll know.
2. You have an escape artist who consistently gets out of the swaddle.
This may happen from day one or it may happen suddenly. When your baby becomes more aware they may no longer like the feeling of being snuggled up so tightly.
If you have a younger baby who is routinely getting out of their swaddle, it may just require some patience and persistence on your part in getting baby used to their swaddle. But the truth is, some babies just don't like being swaddled. You don't want to push it if they're showing clear signs that they don't like it.
3. A baby who normally sleeps soundly isn't anymore.
Up until this point your baby has probably loved their swaddle. They sleep peacefully and clearly enjoy the comfort they closely associate to being in the womb. Then all of a sudden, your baby starts waking up in fits. When you check on them, they may look uncomfortable. It's pretty clear they'd much prefer to be out of the swaddle instead of inside it.
Once your baby is rolling over, you have no other choice than to stop swaddling your baby. However, if your baby is consistently escaping their swaddle or showing other signs that it's making them restless, you may have to make the transition sooner.
Making a Smooth Transition Out of the Swaddle
It can be tough to transition a baby out of their swaddle when they've been sleeping through the night. Anything that disrupts baby's (and everyone else's) sleep can be stressful. Luckily, there are ways to help this inevitable transition to go smoothly.
Dreamland Baby offers the perfect transitional sleep sack to move your baby from swaddled sleep to without. The Dream Sleep Sack utilizes detachable wings so that your baby can stay safely swaddled during the newborn stage when they still need the extra warmth and security. When your baby begins showing signs that it's time to move away from swaddling, you don't need to go off looking for another solution. You can do 1 of 2 things:
1. Transition Baby Out of Their Swaddle Slowly
- The slow transition out of the swaddle starts by leaving just one arm of your baby out of the swaddle initially. This is considered safe even when your baby is showing signs of rolling. Leaving one arm tucked in is a good way to counteract the Moro reflex that can startle and wake your baby in those early months.
- After several days, you can move to both arms out. The swaddle can remain secure around your baby's chest to maintain the security they are used to. You can do this for a few days or really for as long as your baby is comfortable that way.
- The last step in this process is to take the swaddle off completely. Most parents choose to use a sleep sack since babies this age still can't sleep with blankets. With the Dream Sleep Sack, you simply remove the wings. Baby is able to keep the weighted sleep sack they've used all along without having to get used to a different feeling of something new.
2. Use the "Cold Turkey" Method to Unswaddle
Once your baby shows signs that they should no longer be swaddled, you simply remove their swaddle. With the Dream Sleep Sack, that means removing the detachable wings and placing them in their sleep sack without the swaddle. There is no transition period. If you know your baby is truly ready to be unswaddled, this can be a simple and great way to handle the transition. That way, there is no grey area.
Life Beyond Swaddled Sleep
Knowing when it's time to stop swaddling your baby is pretty clear and moving to unswaddled sleep doesn't have to be difficult. Keeping your baby comfortable through the process is key in helping them fall asleep faster and stay asleep for as long as they need.