Your step-by-step guide to transition from swaddling
Swaddling, as you may well know by now, is an essential part of life with a newborn. And as long as your baby is comfortable with swaddling, it will almost certainly become a huge part of daily infant life. But that doesn’t mean it’s without its own set of questions or uncertainties. And as important as it is to know when to start swaddling, it’s just as important to know when to stop swaddling.
A common question that arises throughout the infant stage is “how long do you swaddle a baby?” The signs to stop swaddling become evident with a few tell-tale things: baby fights swaddle, or if you notice baby breaking out of swaddle, and especially if baby fights swaddle but needs sleep. You may also be wondering: “can I still swaddle if my baby rolls over?” The signs to stop swaddling may come at different times or all at once, but they’re all worth mentioning as things to look for--not to mention a signal for when to stop swaddling.
Knowing when to stop swaddling is step number one in the swaddle transition process. So once you’ve established that you’re ready to move on to bigger and better things, you’ll want to begin your transition from swaddling.
Many parents wonder: how do you transition out of swaddling? But with these essential steps in place, you’ll discover the answer to not just that question, but also: when to stop swaddling baby? What do babies sleep in after swaddle? When to stop swaddling baby at night? How long to swaddle a baby per day during the transition phase? How long does it take for baby to get used to no swaddle? And so much more. To learn more, keep reading!
When to Stop Swaddling Baby
Learning what age to stop swaddling can feel like a complete mystery to both new parents and veteran parents. And all it takes to solve the seemingly riddle-ridden world of swaddling is by following your parent instincts--and these essential tips and tricks below. Follow these quick and easy how-to’s to answer all your questions!
How to Stop Swaddling at 4 Months
If your baby is still swaddling at 4 months, they’ll either be ripe for the transition to a sleeping bag, or quite accustomed to the swaddle routine. But moving to a sleeping bag can offer many similar comforts to that of a swaddle, so continue to put in the effort--even if a few tough nights present themselves (and they might). But know that, at this point in time, babies are much more prone to roll over, creating a rather immediate need to quickly transition out of swaddling.
How to Stop Swaddling at 3 Months
To stop swaddling at 3 months, consider creating a true bedtime ritual, one that involves feeding time, bath time, zipping into a sleeping bag, and then story time.
How to Stop Swaddling at 2 Months
Babies can begin rolling over as early as 2 months, and as soon as rolling happens, the swaddling transition needs to begin. Consider incorporating not only a sleeping bag to your bedtime routine, but also white noise to signify that it’s time to sleep.
Knowing If It’s Safe to Stop Swaddling At 1 Month
Babies have been shown to do their best when swaddled between 4 and 5 months. But if it seems like your little one might be ready sooner--around the one month mark--you might be prepared to consider a few things. Try swaddling baby with one arm out of the swaddle, and progressively moving towards swaddling with both arms free. After a few evenings at this stage, baby might be ready to quit the swaddle altogether.
Raegan Moya-Jones, co-founder of aden + anais, quite literally wrote the book on swaddling. Below is an excerpt from her book, Swaddle Love.
“When should I stop swaddling my baby?” It is perhaps one of the most frequently asked swaddling questions new parents pose to experts and send into the blogosphere. The most frequently cited answer: “The baby will let you know.”
“Most babies will tell you when they don’t want to be swaddled anymore,” says Bradley T. Thach, M.D., professor of pediatrics, newborn medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. when they are older, stronger, or feel more comfortable outside of the swaddle, they will likely put up a terrible fuss or simply fight their way out of the swaddle and be content to sleep unbundled. When my little houdinis began wriggling out of their swaddle blankets, I switched to sleeping bags. The bags allowed the girls to feel secure and sleep through the night, whilst eliminating the risk of having loose blankets in the cot.
As you might expect, babies reject swaddling at different ages, but it usually occurs between three and six months, the common age at which infants begin to outgrow their swaddle or develop a natural urge to move more whilst sleeping. Some mothers claim that their babies loved swaddling up until the age of one, whilst Dr. Thatch told me that many cultures around the world regularly swaddle babies past the one-year-old mark. For his part, the classical greek philosopher Plato recommended swaddling babies until they turned two. I would have paid a great deal of money to see Plato try to swaddle my four little girls when they were two; he would have had Buckley’s!
Other parents say that their babies never accepted a full swaddle, and instead preferred a half swaddle that left their arms and hands completely free. As I already mentioned, I started out with the basic swaddle, then when my girls were about three months old, I moved to the more liberal Aussie swaddle so they could bring their hands to their mouths. By the time my girls were six- or seven-months-old, they became comfortable with a bath, story, lullaby, and muslin sleeping bag rather than a muslin swaddle.