When To Swaddle With Arms Out

When to Start Swaddling Your Baby With Arms Out

Most pediatricians agree that swaddling is a safe option for baby and the benefits are plentiful. Swaddling soothes your newborn as they transition to life outside the womb. Swaddling reminds baby of life inside the womb where things were so snuggly and always at the perfect temperature. It’s that wrapped, tight feeling that helps baby feel comfortable, safe and secure. Swaddling also helps flailing arms and legs that can trigger baby’s startle reflex (also known as the Moro reflex) that can wake her up during precious sleep time. But what happens when baby prefers to swaddle with her arms out? Keep reading as we try to unwrap some of your questions about when to swaddle arms out below:

Why do babies sleep with their arms wrapped up?

The idea behind swaddling is that the wrapped, tight feeling of being swaddled is a comfort to baby. She’s at the perfect temperature and feels calm and at peace when all bundled up like a little baby burrito. Having her arms inside the swaddle is reminiscent of life inside the womb. As your baby transitions to life in the real world, the familiarity of having her arms wrapped up is a familiar sensation that should also help her sleep. That will change as baby grows and develops so enjoy all of those newborn moments while they last, especially if they help baby get her sleep.

When should you swaddle arms out?

Every baby is different and what’s comfortable for one, may not be for another. Keeping this in mind, there is no set time frame for when to swaddle with arms out. Experts suggest that it’s okay to leave one or even both arms out of the swaddle, unless baby is so squirmy that having her arms out could be hazardous and the gets so loose that it covers your baby’s nose and mouth. This isn’t usually an issue for newborns but by the time your baby reaches around 2-4 months, they will likely be starting to roll over. If that’s the case, and her arms just aren’t staying put inside the swaddle, it’s time to transition out of the swaddle.

Is it OK if arms unintentionally come out of the swaddle?

If your baby’s arms keep coming out of the swaddle unintentionally, you may be curious when to start swaddling with arms out. Some babies prefer to be swaddled with their arms out. While this is usually okay, it can become dangerous if the rest of the swaddle becomes loose and ends up covering the baby’s face. Similarly, if baby rolls over, she may not be able to roll herself onto her back which can also create a hazard. The roll- over milestone tends to occur between 2-4 months but every baby is different. For some, it may take longer or even sooner. If you think your baby is sleeping with arms out because of discomfort, it may be time to transition to a sleep sack.

Is it safe to swaddle newborns with arms out?

The Dreamland Baby weighted sleep swaddle is a great option for babies who can’t seem to keep their arms inside the swaddle. Thanks to the easy-to-use, built-in swaddle band, the Dreamland swaddle can safely be worn three ways: 

  • both arms out
  • one arm in
  • both arms in

The gentle, evenly distributed weight naturally reduces stress and increases relaxation which helps your baby feel calm, fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

How long can you swaddle baby with arms out?

Once your baby shows signs of rolling over on their own, she will probably find the swaddle all too restrictive. While every baby is different and starts to roll over at different times, this milestone is usually reached between 2 and 4 months old. By then it’s a great idea to put baby in a wearable blanket, also known as a sleep sack, to ensure that your baby is getting the safest sleep possible. Like swaddling, sleep sacks help regulate a baby’s body temperature so no extra bedding like blankets are needed in her sleep space. This is the safest way to sleep according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Which makes a sleep sack the perfect option! The Dreamland baby weighted sleep sack offers the same benefits of the swaddle and can be worn newborn through toddlerhood.

How do you swaddle a baby with arms out?

As long as the rest of the swaddle is wrapped snug around your baby, it’s usually okay for her to sleep with her arms out. If however, you are trying to transition your baby from swaddling to a sleep sack, it’s a good idea to do this transition over the period of a few days. According to What To Expect, here’s how to transition your baby out of the swaddle altogether:

  • Start by swaddling your baby with one of her arms out of the swaddle.
  • A few nights later after she's gotten used to having one arm out, move on to swaddling her with both of her arms free.
  • A few nights after that, stop using the swaddle blanket altogether

Of course, the Dreamland Baby Weighted Sleep Swaddle gives you the option of having your baby sleep arms in or out (see above).

Conclusion: Swaddling with arms out

In those early days, weeks, and months of adjusting to life with baby, there are so many things to pay attention to because your baby can’t tell you what she needs! But if you notice that her arms just keep coming out of the swaddle, don’t panic! It’s okay for her to sleep with one or both arms out of the swaddle as long as she’s not yet rolling over and/or able to move the swaddle blanket up around her face. If that’s the case, consider using a wearable blanket, also known as a sleep sack, which offers many of the same benefits of swaddling. The Dreamland Baby Weighted Sleep Sack naturally reduces stress and anxiety and is a great option when transitioning out of the swaddle.

Dream Weighted Sleep Swaddle, 0-6 months