Why, When & How to Drop The Swaddle

Infant Sleep · Sleep Safety

Swaddling a newborn gives them comfort and security and helps them sleep better. Not to mention, a little baby burrito is just downright adorable. But at some point, your baby needs to transition out of the swaddle.

Why, when, and how do you know it’s time to move on from swaddling?

Benefits Of Swaddling

First, let’s talk a little bit about why you would use swaddling in the first place. Unlike some tactics parents use, swaddling isn’t a sleep prop.

Instead, it’s a useful tool that keeps your baby warm, safe, and well rested. Coming out of the warm, dark, cozy womb into the wide world is probably pretty overwhelming, and a swaddle eases the transition.

Swaddling also reduces the impact of a newborn’s startle reflex, helping them stay asleep instead of flailing awake in a tizzy.

These are all fabulous benefits to swaddling. But what happens when your baby starts developing more and outgrows the need for a swaddle. What then?

When To Stop Swaddling

Here are the signs to watch out for to know it’s time to stop swaddling:

  1. Your baby is active enough to kick out of a swaddle (and then can’t go back to sleep until you fix it)
  2. Your baby can roll around and the movement loosens/undoes the swaddle
  3. Your baby is curious and wants free hands/feet

If you wait too long, the swaddle evolves from helpful tool to harmful prop. Consider transitioning out of the swaddle early in month three as your baby is getting more mobile, and before the 4-month sleep regression. You don’t want to have to fuss with any other changes at that point, beyond a new sleep rhythm.

How To Stop Swaddling

So how do you stop? The easiest way to ease out of swaddling is one sleep time at a time. I suggest starting with bedtime, as your bedtime routine and baby’s natural sleepiness will make this the least impacted time to remove it.

Next, move on to naps. If your baby is too resistant because he has come to depend heavily on the swaddle, cold turkey may be your only recourse, but if it hasn’t gotten to that point yet, then it’s time to ease in.

If you need support establishing healthy sleep routines and habits for your child, check out our other resources or reach out for customized support and sleep plans.


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