How to Stop Swaddling
Swaddling is the term used to describe wrapping your baby snugly in a blanket to prevent him from fussing at night. Since babies are used to feeling snug and secure in the womb, swaddling is a technique to help them feel the same safe and comfortable sensation in the outside world.
However, there comes a time when babies need to stop swaddling. Newborns grow up pretty quickly and are subject to rapid change in habits. One of these habits is swaddling, and as a parent, you should know when and how to stop swaddling your baby at the appropriate time.
How to Stop Swaddling Your Baby
Step 1: Know when to stop swaddling
Just like the proper transition between natural breastfeeding and using baby bottles, there is also an ideal time to stop swaddling. Generally, the proper time to stop swaddling is between 3 to 5 months of age. By this time, your newborn will have outgrown their “startle” or Moro reflex that is prevented by the swaddle wrap.
Another important milestone to watch out for is the ability of your baby to roll over on his stomach. If your baby is able to do this, then it is time stop swaddling right away, as it can cause suffocation. If he’s also consistently breaking free from the swaddling blanket, it could also mean that it’s time to stop swaddling.
Tip: I generally recommend swaddling your baby at night only, because babies can become overly dependent on the swaddling blanket for comfort. This will make it more difficult for you to remove them from this habit.
Step 2: Stop swaddling in a gradual manner
Once babies get used to the swaddling blanket, it’s not good to suddenly take the comfort away from them. The most appropriate way to stop swaddling is to do it gradually.
You can start by leaving an arm or leg out of the swaddling blanket. Then another arm, then another leg, then another until you have stopped swaddling completely. In this way, your baby won’t feel the difference that much, and still maintain a comfortable sleep.
From experience, you can remove your baby from swaddling between 1 to weeks. However, you should put baby mittens to prevent your baby from scratching at his own face.
On the other hand, you can stop swaddling immediately and allow your baby to develop a new self-soothing technique (or employ one of your own e.g. rocking, snuggling), but be prepared for sleepless nights. To prevent you and your baby from tiring yourselves out at night, I recommend you follow the gradual approach.
Step 3: Get alternatives to swaddling blankets (optional)
If your baby is ready to stop swaddling but still experiences minor twitches, or you just want to catch a good night’s sleep most nights, there are certain hacks you can employ. Instead of using swaddling blankets, you can use other products that comfort your baby just the same.
You can also use these special products to transition your baby between swaddling to no swaddling at all. Good examples of alternatives to swaddling are a sleep suit or a swaddle strap that mimic the same comfort as a swaddling blanket.
This is also a good way to comfort bigger babies during their sleep. More so if they are dependent on the swaddling blanket for a good night’s sleep.
Step 4: Watch out for sleep changes
Just like watching out for feeding changes, you should also watch out for sleep changes once you have weaned your baby from swaddling. Of course, there are going to be slight or moderate changes to your baby’s sleeping pattern. A good way to make sure your baby gets enough sleep is to keep track of his sleeping pattern.
You should note the time your baby falls asleep and let him sleep at these specific times. For example, if you observe that your baby always falls asleep at 3 in the afternoon, you should ensure that he is tucked in a few minutes before.
If you’re outside, you should go out of the way just to make sure your baby is ready for sleep at this time. For instance, if you’re on the road, turn down music and ask other family members to be quiet to let the baby sleep. Otherwise, all hell will break loose with a fatigued baby.
This simple strategy is used to avoid crying and an overtired baby, one which I highly recommend to new parents. The result? A happy and healthy baby and an even happier (and non-sleep deprived parents).
Both babies and parents enjoy swaddling because it is a technique that allows for a baby’s sound sleep. However, there comes a time when a baby has to be weaned from swaddling (generally at 3-5 months old) to prevent accidents and becoming overdependent on the swaddling blanket.
This article highlighted the slow but steady method to stop swaddling. Because babies wouldn’t like the sudden change in their sleeping habits, it’s best to stop swaddling gradually in order to prevent sleepless nights for both baby and you. Start with an arm or leg, and the rest will follow until you have stopped swaddling completely.
Moreover, you can try alternatives to swaddling such as sleep suits or swaddle straps to further make a good transition, or allow bigger babies to be swaddled without complete loss of their mobility.
In addition, you should also watch out for sleeping changes, as this can happen with the cessation of swaddling. Make sure your baby gets enough sleep so that you can, too!The proper time of swaddling cessation is essential for a good sleeping pattern. I hope you learned a lot from this article as well as enjoyed it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Share this bit of useful information with your friends, too! Thanks for reading!