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Swaddling a baby can help soothe them when they are fussy and give them the feeling of the mother’s womb. Swaddling a baby also soothes them through the startle reflex and helps them sleep for longer stretches. This technique is truly a lifesaver for new parents, but it can’t continue for always. Swaddling is no doubt helpful up to a certain age, but once a baby grows older and becomes mobile, you’ve to transition him out of it for his health and safety.
Why is Swaddling Important?
Swaddling is a technique of wrapping up the baby with a soft cloth or baby 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 helps a baby sleep peacefully for longer periods of time.
- It is helpful in reducing the anxiety in babies by giving them a 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 the 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 help prevent colic in babies.
Though swaddling may have many benefits for your baby, you cannot continue to practice it forever. You should stop swaddling your baby after a while. In the following paragraphs, we shall discuss when and how to do it.
When Should You Stop Swaddling Your Baby?
Here are some guidelines on when to stop swaddling a baby (and when not to):
- You can stop swaddling your baby when he turns around 3-or-4-month-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 time to stop swaddling.
- If your baby suffers from Moro reflex, a condition where a baby gets startled in his sleep, then do not stop swaddling. A baby does not outgrow this reflex until 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 to fall asleep, 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 that don’t stop swaddling all of a sudden. Any sudden change may not be accepted by your baby. The best approach to stop swaddling is to do it slowly.
- You can begin by keeping one arm of your baby out of the blanket. After a few days, you can keep both 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 your baby shows signs of rolling over 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 may find it difficult to transition him out of it.
It is important to remember that whenever you stop swaddling your baby, your baby will fuss and act cranky. But that shouldn’t stop you from helping him transition out of it as swaddling your baby for longer than necessary as it may not be good for his growth.
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