Swaddling is something almost every baby experiences but it certainly is something that your baby will not need forever. In truth, there comes a time in your baby’s life when you will need to stop swaddling immediately. This article will help you know how and when is the right time to stop swaddling your baby. Before we get to that, let’s look at the benefits of swaddling.
Benefits of Swaddling
Swaddling is beneficial to both you as a mother and to your baby for many reasons; most especially when it is done safely and correctly. When you swaddle your baby, you make him feel just as if he were still in the womb, covered and comfortable, this helps your baby to sleep longer and better as he is in a comfort zone. Swaddling helps soothe your baby to sleep and when your baby is swaddled, less anxiety is experienced and they won’t wake up unnecessarily at night as a result of startle reflex which is something every baby is born with. Another benefit of swaddling is that it prevents your baby from face-scratching, with his hands not free there is no way he can scratch. Swaddling also ensures that your baby maintains a perfect sleeping position, once you place your baby in bed, they will hardly roll out of place. And surely, when your baby sleeps comfortably and peacefully all through the night, you too will have a peaceful and comfortable sleep.
Why you would need to stop swaddling your baby
Swaddling is beneficial; no doubt about that but, it can not be done forever as the time will come when your baby will no longer be needing it. It’s normal, just like every other thing your baby uses like pacifiers, cribs, and all the clothing you’ve ever bought, your baby will outgrow the swaddles. Most babies outgrow swaddling when they are between 3 to 6 months, but it is ideal you try to stop swaddling your baby from 4 months of age. If you continue to swaddle your baby after such age, it may turn out to be a threat to his over growth and development. Also, you would need to teach your baby how to sleep on his own, as your baby grows there is need for him to experiment different sleeping positions and having their hands and feet stuck will not help matters.
How to know when your baby has outgrown the swaddle
Like earlier stated, your baby will outgrow the swaddles and it is usually between the age of 3 – 6 months, some babies even outgrow swaddles as early as 2 months. You should swaddle your baby for as long as you think is safe and comfortable for him but also watch out for the signs so you know when it’s time to drop it. Some of these signs may include;
1. When your baby can break out from the swaddle
Let’s take for example, you waking up in the morning and going to get your baby from the baby nursery and you find that some parts of his body like hands and legs are out of the swaddle when you tucked him in properly in the night. What would you think? Let’s say you take it as nothing and then the next morning and the following one a similar thing happened. That means your baby can now break out of the swaddle all by himself and it can be a sign that he no longer needs it. If that is the case, you should start considering dropping the whole swaddling blankets for good.
2. Baby waking up in a different sleeping position
This is usually common and one of the major signs you should be looking out for. You swaddled your baby and placed him in a comfortable sleeping position in his crib at night and when you go to get them in the morning, you see that he has rolled to a different position while still in his swaddle. It may be nothing for the first time but once it happens again and again, you should know that your baby is no longer comfortable with sleeping while swaddled and actually wants to be free, so drop the act.
3. No more – Or Less – Startle Reflex
One of the major importance of swaddling your baby as we found out earlier is to prevent startle reflex which newborns are prone to experience. But, your baby will stop experiencing – or better still, experience less of – these startle reflexes and at that time, you would not be needing the swaddle blankets so much. When do baby stop experiencing or starts experiencing less of these startle reflexes? By 2 or 3 months, your baby will stop experiencing less and by 5 or 6 months old, they may disappear completely.
4. Baby being able to pull up in the crib
What this implies is that your baby has developed, developed to the stage that he is now able to pull himself up in his crib. This may be a sign that your baby no longer needs the swaddle as he now enjoys being free than being stationary. Most babies start doing this (pulling up themselves in the crib) when they are between about 8 months and 10 months. This is close to when a baby begins to stand and you certainly cannot use a swaddle on a baby for that long.
5. Being uncomfortable with the swaddles
Babies are cool with and usually enjoys being swaddled, it sure do make them feel comfortable. But, some babies become uncomfortable with it. You should not give up swaddling yet because it may be that your baby is not comfortable with the swaddling technique you are using, so you should try a different swaddling technique. If he continues to be uncomfortable and maybe cry when swaddled – this is likely with older babies – it certainly means that your baby is telling you to flag down and that he no longer needs to be wrapped up in swaddling blankets.
Tips on how to stop swaddling your baby
So you have known the signs that shows that your baby may no longer be needing a swaddle, now how do you stop it. It maybe more easier than you think and the progress you’ll make depends on the behavior of your baby. If your baby has already started resisting the swaddle, it will be more easy to stop swaddling. But if your baby is still dependent on his swaddle to sleep, you may have a tough time with stopping it. All the same, the below steps will help;
1. Start by Minimizing
You should start by minimizing the number of times you swaddle your baby in a day. If you are the type that uses a swaddle both during naps at day time and bed time at night, you can consider minimizing it to swaddling your baby just during the night time. This is a very helpful step if you want to stop swaddling your baby as it will help him have more time to sleep freely so he won’t be much bothered when he sees the swaddle blankets no more. If your baby loves his swaddle so much, this will do the trick.
2. Gradually cut down on the Night Swaddling
So your baby has now gotten used to sleeping without a swaddle during the day and sleeping with it at night, great for a start now you know what to do next; cut down on the night swaddling. You should no longer be swaddling your baby every night, skip some days, you can swaddle this night and skip the next. Doing this constantly will help your baby adapt to no longer being swaddled. However, you should watch how your baby react to it every night so as to know if he is OK with it or not. If he seems fine during the nights without swaddles, then you just scored a huge point.
3. Try other swaddling methods
In this scenario, you are swaddling your baby, but not completely. One method is by wrapping only the upper or lower area of your baby’s body. You can also start by leaving one arm, or one leg of your baby un-swaddled at first. Next, you change gradually to leaving both arms, or both legs, unsaddled. From there, you will get to the point where your baby will be totally un-swaddled. Eventually, you will build up to the point where you are not swaddling at all. This is a slow and gradual process, at the end, the goal is to make it easy for your baby to get used to sleeping without being swaddled.
4. Soothe your baby before bedtime
Your baby stills needs to feel safe and comfortable before sleeping and now that you are taking away the swaddles, you can do a good job by soothing your baby before bedtime. You can carry your baby and rock him in your arms before he falls asleep or any other thing you know you can do to make him feel safe and comfortable before bedtime. This will make your baby not to miss the warm and soothing feel of being in the swaddle and if you continue with it, they will learn to live without it.
5. Make use of transitioning products
Transitioning products have been the savior for most people in their journey to stop swaddling their babies. These products are available in the market and they help a great deal with the swaddle transitioning by making it more easier for your baby to feel comfortable while sleeping. Some of these products include;
- Baby Sleep Suit
- A baby sleep suit is a recommended baby transition product that you should buy. It helps babies transition from the swaddle by providing them with a comfortable and secure feeling while sleeping. It is a body suit so it covers your baby’s body properly and is usually made of very soft and skin friendly material. With a baby sleep suit, you no longer need to worry about your baby at night because they sure will be getting the best of sleep without the swaddles. Babies can start using a baby sleep suit instead of swaddles when they are about 3 months of age. If you want to purchase a swim suit for your baby, check recommendations and read reviews so that you can get a quality one.
- Baby Sleep Sacks/Blankets
- These are wearable blanket ideal for replacing your baby swaddles in the crib. They leave your baby hands free and do not cover your baby’s face so it can’t interfere with breathing. These blankets help your baby in sleeping safer and sleeping better too, they also help prevent over heating. They give your baby the sort of warmth he gets when cuddled and it will be impossible for your baby to kick it off. With such blankets, your baby gets to sleep soundly and comfortably all throughout the night. Baby sleep blankets are usually recommended for use when your baby is at least 12 months old but there are some made for much younger babies that you can buy.
- Baby Weighted Blanket
- Generally recommended for sleep and relaxation, weighted blankets are another option you can turn to. These blankets are very much different from the baby sleep blankets mentioned earlier because they are more heavier than them. They have become a popular sleep accessory used by both adults and children. These weighted blankets are well padded so they are very soft despite being heavy. They are also usually filled with pellets that helps distribute weight equally across your body while you sleep. Weighted blankets are ideal for improving sleep quality and duration and can do your baby a whole lot of good.
- Baby Pajamas
- You already know the usefulness of pajamas as it is possible that you already have one or two. Just as your pajamas are very useful to you during the night so it will be when you get one for your baby. Pajamas allow proper inflow of air, especially to the leg area and they are soft to the skin. Also, they do not stick to the skin so it hardly causes sweat. In overall, these pajamas provide your baby with the ultimate level of comfort and ease they were used to with the swaddles.
Other products you can buy
The above listed products are the ideal ones when it comes to swaddle transitioning. Below are other products you can still try that will support your baby and help him sleep, relax with comfort;
- Baby Lounger
- These are portable bassinets that you can lay your baby in for relaxation or a quick nap especially when outdoors. These baby loungers are creatively designed, just like a nest, they cradle your baby by providing your a secure, warm and comfy space. There are some baby loungers that babies even from 0 months of age can make use of. Your baby should be under supervision whenever you lay them in a baby lounger and should not be left to sleep overnight in it, you have your crib for that.
- Neck pillows
- A baby neck pillow is another product you can buy to provide your baby with the support they need for a comfortable and relaxing sleep. You can carry your baby neck pillow along with you anywhere you go, especially when traveling. When purchasing a neck pillow for your baby, look for one that is very soft and produced from organic materials, they are the best.
- Crib Wedge
- This is not all that important but it may be useful to some babies (not all). Crib wedges go under the crib mattress to elevate one end of it. Generally, it helps your baby get a more restful sleep by providing a comfortable incline which helps him to fall asleep and stay asleep too. However, like earlier said, not all babies need a crib wedge so if you feel you baby needs a crib wedge, you should discuss with your pediatrician before making the purchase.
- Baby Snuzzlers are usually meant for car seats and baby strollers but it can still help with your baby swaddle transitioning. When your baby no longer sleeps with the swaddles, you need to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable anytime they relax. Baby are funny with the way they fall asleep sometimes, Babies can sleep in the car and in the stroller so with the help of the snuzzlers which provides them with head and body support, they feel safe and cozy as they sleep or relax. These snuzzlers are usually well padded and contoured so they feel soft on your baby.
Swaddle transitioning is a must as a time must surely come when you would need to Stop swaddling your baby. Such times can be hard or can go smoothly, it depends on how much your baby loved the swaddles. Whichever way it is for you, I hope that the information contained in this article helps you out.