Wondering when you should stop swaddling your little one? Find out when you can transition out of their swaddle and how to make the transition easy.
I loved wrapping Evelyn into a baby burrito each night by swaddling her. Up until she was 10 weeks old or so, we swaddled her at bedtime and for most of her naps. She always seemed to enjoy being swaddled and never fought it.
Swaddling provides a cozy, womb-like environment that can help babies feel safe and warm. Swaddling can calm fussy babies, keep the startle reflex from waking them, and help babies to sleep better. It’s also follows the abcs of safe sleep to help keep them warm before babies can sleep with a blanket.
I bet you love to wrap your baby up each night, too!
When to Stop Swaddling
As soon as babies start to roll over from their back to their front, it’s time to stop swaddling them. Even if they start to show signs that they might roll over soon, you should start to transition them out of the swaddle.
The reason for this is that the risk of SIDS increases if a swaddled baby rolls to their side, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP doesn’t give an exact age of when to stop swaddling your baby, more of a general recommendation based on each baby’s development. And we know that each baby develops at different speeds!
This can be around 2 months all the way up to 4 months of age, depending on your baby’s development. Here are some signs that your baby is ready to stop being swaddled:
- They can get one or both arms out of the swaddle
- They can get out of their swaddle completely
- Baby starts rolling over from back to front
How to Transition Out of The Swaddle
I remember dreading having to transition out of the swaddle. We were finally in a good sleeping routine and starting to get longer stretches at night. I didn’t want to mess everything up, but I knew Evelyn’s safety while she slept was the utmost importance.
The transition went much better than I thought it would. If you’re getting ready to transition your baby out of the swaddle, just know that you can do it! There will be many transitions throughout the course of your baby’s life and you will get through each one eventually!
If your baby is starting to roll over, it might be time to transition them out of the swaddle. There are a few different methods you can use to transition them. There’s the cold turkey approach, or the gradual approach. See below for how to do each one.
Stop Swaddling Cold Turkey
This is the method we used with Evelyn and it went surprisingly well! Around the time she was 10 weeks old, she could get herself completely out of her swaddle. (She’s a baby Houdini—see the photo above!)
For three days in a row, when I went to get her in the morning, the swaddle was crumpled at the bottom of her feet. I didn’t want any loose objects in her crib, so I knew it was time to transition her.
We followed her same bedtime routine that night and when it was time to fall asleep instead of swaddling her, we used a sleep sack. Sleep sacks are good to keep baby warm so there aren’t any loose objects in the crib. She went down well that night and slept about the same amount of time that she had been. She seemed to love having her arms free and slept with them spread open!
I’m not sure if she was just ready to drop the swaddle, or was just an easy baby, but this method worked for us!
Stop Swaddling Mid Night
This is the method my friend used for transitioning her baby into the crib and it takes a more gradual approach.
If your baby isn’t rolling yet, but you suspect the time is getting close, you can put them to bed swaddled. When they wake up in the middle of the night to eat, you can move them out of the swaddle and into a sleep sack, feed them, and then put them back down. They’ll wake up without a swaddle, getting them used to it slowly.
Try this for a few days until they seem ready to go to bed without a swaddle completely.
Swaddle with One Arm Out
With this method, you swaddle your baby like you normally would, but leave one of baby’s arms out. This lets them slowly adjust. You can swaddle them like this for a few days to a few weeks, then add the other arm out, so just their body is swaddled. Eventually you will stop swaddling them completely. The Love to Dream swaddle makes transitioning this way super simple! You can unzip the arm part off of their swaddle so baby’s hands are free.
Switch to A Swaddle Alternative
The Zipadee-Zip is a swaddle-like alternative that allows your baby to move around while still being enclosed. It helps with the Moro reflex, and is safe for babies to roll in. This is a great option if you’re having trouble figuring out how to get baby to sleep without the swaddle.
I did not know about these when Evelyn was a baby but I will check them out for baby number 2! Bonus for these is that your baby will look like a little starfish! Such a great alternative for swaddled babies!
Other Tips to Help Drop the Swaddle
Avoid common sleep mistakes and follow these tips, which eases the transition out of the swaddle.
- Make sure you have an optimum sleep environment set up including white noise and nursery blackout curtains.
- If you haven’t already, you can introduce a transitional item such as a pacifier at this point to help your baby self soothe.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule to prevent an overtired baby. Pay attention to those wake times!
- I don’t recommend making the transition from a swaddle to a swaddle transition suit, like the Merlin sleep suit. This is just another sleep item that you’ll eventually have to wean your baby out of and is not safe once your baby can roll!
If your baby has a hard time transitioning out of the swaddle, just remember that it’s temporary. They’ll get used to this new way of sleeping. Stick with your same sleep schedule and routine and know that it will get better!
If your baby is 16 weeks old, you can help them learn to self-soothe by using a sleep training method. Be sure to grab our e-Book if you need more help with the process of getting your little one to sleep!