When and How to Stop Swaddling a Baby

Baby swaddling

Many mothers continue swaddling their babies for a few weeks or even for months after birth. This is because it helps in soothing and comforting the baby and even gives him the feeling of a mother’s womb. However, the question here is when and how you should stop swaddling your baby? In the following article, we shall discuss all the aspects of swaddling.

Why is Swaddling Important?

Swaddling is a technique of wrapping up your baby with a soft cloth or a blanket in such a way that his arms and legs are securely tucked inside the blanket, and only his head stays out of the blanket. Many mothers prefer swaddling for comforting and soothing their babies. Some other reasons why it is important are:

  • It is very beneficial for inducing longer and peaceful sleep in babies.
  • It is helpful in reducing the anxiety in babies by giving them the comforting feeling.
  • Many babies get startled in their sleep, which may result in waking up. Swaddling makes them feel secure and thus lesser waking up in between their sleep.
  • Swaddling makes a baby settle back to sleep.
  • It is also a great way of self-soothing for babies and the best position for this is “hands over heart”.
  • It is an effective way of mimicking touch to the babies.
  • It will keep your baby from scratching his own face while sleeping.
  • It is also helpful for the parents as they also get to sleep for long hours.
  • It may be beneficial in preventing colic in babies.

Though swaddling may have many benefits for your baby, you cannot continue to practise it forever. You should stop swaddling your baby after a while. In the following paragraphs, we shall discuss when and how to do it.

Baby's hands out of the wrap

When Should You Stop Swaddling Your Baby?

Here are some guidelines to stop swaddling your baby which may help you:

  • You can stop swaddling when your baby is around 3 or 4-months-old.
  • Sometimes you may notice that your baby will try to break free from the swaddle. This does not mean you should stop swaddling. This could be due to two reasons, loose swaddling or wrong size of the blanket. However, if your baby still breaks free, then it may be the time to stop swaddling.
  • If your baby suffers from Moro reflex, a condition where your baby may startle in his sleep, then do not stop swaddling. A baby does not outgrow this reflex till four to five months of age. It is recommended that you do not wean off your baby from swaddling earlier than this, as he may wake up at nights.
  • Make sure your baby is not swaddled all day long, which is even when he is awake. Swaddling a newborn baby for longer durations is still fine as he spends most of the time sleeping. It is also very important for the baby to move his limbs to develop his gross motor skills. Therefore, it will be a good idea to not swaddle your baby when he is not sleeping.
  • You should never put your baby in a face-down swaddling position. However, if your baby is able to roll on his own, then it is a good indication to stop swaddling.
  • Before you begin sleep-training your baby, you should stop swaddling because sleep training involves self-soothing. And if you practise swaddling along with sleep training, then it may confuse your baby.

How Can You Stop Swaddling Your Infant?

If your baby is not too dependent on swaddling for going off to sleep or for comfort, then the swaddle transition may not be difficult for you to manage and your baby will gradually adapt to it. However, if your baby is greatly dependent on swaddling, then you may find it a bit of a task. Here we shall discuss how you can stop swaddling your infant:

  • The first and foremost thing to remember is; never stop swaddling abruptly and suddenly. Any sudden change may not be accepted by your baby. The best approach to stop swaddling is to bring it gradually.
  • You can begin by keeping one arm of your baby out of the blanket. After a few days, you can keep both the arms outside the blanket.
  • Later, you can start by keeping one and then both the legs out of the blanket.
  • You can also replace the covering blanket with a wearable blanket. There are many options available in the market to choose from.
  • It is also a good idea to stop swaddling as soon as you get the hints from your baby like if he starts rolling or feels cranky in a swaddled state.
  • It is also recommended that you start swaddling early because once your baby gets used to it; you will find it difficult to wean off your baby from swaddling.

It is important to remember that whenever you plan to make changes related to swaddling or other sleep-related issues, you may have to deal with your baby’s fussiness and crankiness. You may even have to go a few nights without sleep in order to establish a new sleep-routine for your baby. It is recommended that you do not let go of your efforts. Usually, it may a take a week or two at max for your baby to make the transition from swaddling to normal sleeping. This is normal, and your baby may feel settled into his new routine very soon. However, if your baby is not able to sleep through the night or if there are some other sleep-related problems that concern you, you should get in touch with your baby’s doctor for the same.

Also Read: How to Make Baby Sleep at Night