when to stop swaddling
Learn to spot the signs with the swaddle experts at aden + anais
Signs it’s time to stop swaddling
Swaddling your baby provides a sense of warmth and comfort that eases the transition from womb to world. It helps keep baby calm during fussy nights, reduces nighttime wake-ups related to the Moro reflex, and soothes baby with a feeling of snug security. Despite the benefits of swaddling, eventually the baby burrito era must come to an end, and our experts at aden + anais want to help you make the transition with ease.
Read our quick list for helpful insights. And, if you’re seeking more information, continue through to our extended article.
when to stop swaddling
- Swaddling moderates the Moro reflex, which babies don’t outgrow until 4 to 6 months.
- Most babies outgrow swaddling from 3 to 6 months, but about 4 months is the average.
- If your baby starts taking their arms out of the swaddle, they’re getting ready to transition.
- If your baby can get out of the swaddle completely, it’s time to stop swaddling.
- If your baby starts to roll over during sleep, stop swaddling immediately for your baby’s safety.
- If you and baby are ready to sleep train, stop swaddling.
- If baby starts to express extreme frustration or dislike of swaddling, you may want to transition.
- If you feel it’s time to stop swaddling, stop swaddling. After all, parents often know best.
how long should i swaddle my baby?
You should swaddle your baby as long as it remains safe and comfortable for your little bundle. Generally, babies will enjoy and benefit from swaddling until they’re anywhere from 3 to 6 months old, but this isn’t an inflexible rule. Every baby carries their own unique spirit and walks their own developmental path. Some will outgrow their swaddles quickly, while others might enjoy some form of swaddling well into their ninth month.
Remember, too, that babies are born with the often sleep-disturbing Moro reflex. Involuntary muscle movements associated with changes in the sensation of stability cause the Moro reflex to wake baby from a sound sleep. Swaddling helps to control the effects of these movements by keeping tiny arms gently in place throughout the night. Since most babies don’t outgrow the Moro reflex until 3 or 4 months (and some take even longer), you’ll likely want to continue swaddling through this developmental stage. To learn more on this topic, read our article on the Moro reflex.
my baby, the escape artist
Many parents recognize the experience of peeking into baby’s crib to find their little one has wriggled their arms out of their swaddles or even escaped entirely. When your child starts to remove one or two arms, they’re letting you know that the era of wrapping them up in a cute little burrito is ending. Continue to monitor your baby for signs that they’re getting better at removing their swaddle.
If your child has proven they can unwrap themselves entirely, forego the traditional swaddle and consider a safe alternative. Loose blankets in your baby’s crib are a danger to your sleeping child and a risk factor for SIDS. If baby removes their traditional swaddle but still seems to enjoy and benefit from being wrapped, consider a baby sleeping bag. Our baby sleeping bags zip closed, providing the comfort of a traditional swaddle for miniature escape artists.
Developmental changes and swaddling
Swaddling is a soothing ritual that your baby won’t require forever. In fact, once baby reaches the developmental milestone of rolling over, you’ll need to stop swaddling immediately. Babies should never sleep face-down, and babies who can roll onto their tummies can get stuck in that position if swaddled. When your little one begins showing interest in rolling over, prepare to transition them out of their traditional swaddle.
If you feel that you and your baby are ready to begin sleep training, you’ll want to ease them out of their swaddle in preparation. Sleep training requires baby to learn how to self-soothe so they can regulate their emotional responses all on their own. Up until now, the comfort and security of their swaddle has provided an outside source of soothing, and they’ll only learn independent affect regulation once swaddling comes to an end.
Listen to baby & follow your intuition
As all parents are undoubtedly aware, your baby will most definitely let you know when they don’t like something. If your little one has always accepted swaddling without incident and then suddenly fusses or cries when they’re wrapped, they’re likely letting you know they need an adjustment. Sometimes baby is ready to move on from swaddling completely, but often they’d like an arms-out swaddle technique. Read our article on what to do when baby doesn’t want to be swaddled to discover some solutions.
Of course, if you feel that it’s time to stop swaddling for any reason, take this insight seriously. You’re the parent after all, and you know your baby best. Remember that every baby requires unique care and attention depending on their one-of-a-kind personality. Always follow basic safety precautions, but don’t feel that you or baby should adhere to any rigid expectations. As with so many parenting challenges, feel your way through and respond to your baby’s signals. Together, you’ll always figure it out.