If you’ve been here for a while, you know just how much I love swaddles. And I mean, I LOVE swaddles. They are indeed the key to getting great newborn sleep!
Click here to watch the difference swaddling can make on Instagram.
If you’re here because it seems like your newborn just absolutely hates the swaddle, my advice is to keep trying! Swaddling is only one of Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s for soothing babies, so you may need to stack on the other calming tricks to really help soothe your baby.
Click here to check out the other calming tricks on Instagram.
As much as I love a good, snug swaddle, there comes a time when it’s no longer safe for babies to sleep while swaddled.
In this blog, I’ll go over…
Now let’s dive in!
When should we transition out of the swaddle?
While you can try making the transition gradually, go full-on cold-turkey, or somewhere in between, there are three different mini transitions I like to do:
Switching to a Velcro Swaddle
At around 2-3 months, I like switching to a velcro swaddle so they don’t get any loose fabric around their face. This is because at this age, they start to become SO much squirmier, and they seem to bust out of their original swaddle more easily! To learn more about velcro swaddles in another article, click here!
Swaddle With One Arm Out
When it’s time for sleep learning at 4 months, try swaddling while leaving one arm out. This gives them a tool they can use for self-soothing!
Dropping the Swaddle
Regardless of your baby’s age, it’s time to stop swaddling once they start *showing signs of rolling!
*The AAP recommends dropping the swaddle once your baby is starting to roll. They say to drop around 8 weeks because of the potential risk of the blanket becoming more loose the stronger/squirmier they get OR because of early rolling. If you are covering these bases, then it is safe to continue using the swaddle!
Figuring out when and how to transition out of the swaddle for our early rollers can be tricky. They may still have the Moro reflex, which causes their arms to jerk while they’re sleeping (a good snug swaddle would mitigate this if it was safe to use).
My recommendation? Do lots of rolling practice with them during the day to help them master their new skill! A *weighted sleep sack or the Merlin Suit can also help them relax or mitigate these startle reflexes.
*Disclaimer about using weighted products: According to the 2022 AAP updated recommendations, “It is recommended that weighted blankets, weighted sleepers, or other weights not be placed on or near the sleeping infant. A single crossover randomized nonblinded trial of 16 infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome found no adverse events when a 1-pound weighted blanket was placed on each infant for 30 minute observed episodes. However, no studies have documented the safety of weights for infants in an unobserved, nonclinical sleep environment.”
We at The Peaceful Sleeper believe in doing what feels best for you and your family. Since there have been no documented adverse “events” from using weighted sleep products (at the date of posting this), and no studies that prove that using a weighted product is unsafe (at the date of posting this), some parents feel comfortable using a weighted product and others do not.
We always advocate for doing your own research, staying informed on up-to-date safety recommendations, and making an informed decision that’s best for your family.
How to Transition Out of the Swaddle
Know that if you want to and it works for your baby, going cold turkey is totally an option here! Some babies do just fine ditching the swaddle all at once.
For a more gradual transition, start with taking one arm out of the swaddle (just like I mentioned I like to do when it’s time for sleep learning). You may notice their sleep is disturbed, but that shouldn’t last long.
After about a week or so, take their other arm out of the swaddle as well. At this point, the swaddle is basically just wrapped around their chest. In another week(ish) drop the swaddle altogether!
Know that this is just another stage babies and mamas need to get through. You can do it!
Tools That Can Help Make the Transition Easier
Good news! There are SO many products out there designed to make the transition a little easier.
This swaddle can be used both arms in OR out. It’s compression knit, so it allows for quite a bit of movement while also still mitigating that Moro reflex. It also has an open bottom…whoop whoop for easy diaper access!
Love to Dream
This is an arms-up swaddle and is slightly compressed around the midsection with a two-way zipper for easy diaper access. It doesn’t restrict movement much, so babies can still bring their hands to their mouths. BUT, it still helps reduce startle movements. Some babies who really fight the restriction of a traditional swaddle do SO well with this option!
This is a velcro swaddle that can be used as a full swaddle, one arm, OR both arms out, and you have to take it off to access the diaper. This can be a great solution for babies who are strong enough to bust out of a traditional swaddle but still need that restriction.
Watch this Instagram reel to see each of these swaddles in action!
Click here to see each of the listed swaddle alternatives on Instagram.
I’ve got a long list of other swaddle options and alternatives in this trouble shooting guide!
Recap on How to Transition Out of the Swaddle
While the transition out of the swaddle can be tricky to navigate, remember there are SO many useful tools as well as this gradual transition approach that can help it all go smoothly!
If your baby is 4 months or older, the best thing you can do is start sleep learning! With sleep learning already under your belt, this transition and the sleep disruption that could come with shouldn’t last long at all.
If you want any help and/or support troubleshooting with your baby, grab a consultation! I’ve got the most amazing team of certified sleep consultants who can help you get the sleep you and ALL of your little ones deserve.