Transitioning Out of the Swaddle
By Cara Dumaplin of Taking Cara Babies
If you have watched or attended Taking Cara Babies’ newborn sleep class “Will I Ever Sleep Again?”, you know that newborns long for the womb those first few months after birth. They love the security of feeling snug while sleeping, and this is exactly what swaddling* offers. However, as the saying goes “all good things must come to an end,” and this is the case with swaddling.
*If your little one hates to be swaddled, this class addresses that too. You can learn more about the newborn sleep class HERE.
When do I stop swaddling?
There isn’t a universal baby age for coming out of the swaddle; instead, you’ll want to stop swaddling when it’s developmentally appropriate for your baby. We stop swaddling when your little one rolls from back to tummy, or you suspect he is about to start rolling from back to tummy. For most babies, this happens between 3-5 months of age (However, every baby is different; there is no reason to worry if your baby is a little ahead or behind this range.). The reason to stop swaddling at this point is safety. Once a baby can flip onto his tummy, he needs his hands free to push up from the mattress.
Again remember, every baby is different. This transition for some babies really does require patience, and then for some, this transition is very easy. With that in mind, don’t rush out of the swaddle; if your baby is not showing signs of rolling over, there is no reason to stop swaddling yet.
How do I conquer this transition?
1) Cold Turkey.
Just move her into a sleep sack with arms free
2) Swaddle With One Arm Out.
Swaddle snuggly like you have been doing but leave one arm out. This gives your baby a chance to adjust slowly, but she will still be safe if she rolls onto her tummy.
Do this for 1-4 weeks; then, when your baby is adjusting well with one arm unrestrained, allow both arms free. Follow your baby’s lead on the exact timing.
3) Partial Night.
If your baby hasn’t yet rolled, the “partial night” option may be best. With this technique, you may implement one of the above suggestions. When he awakens, swaddle him back up with arms inside the swaddle. Each night try to go a bit longer with arms free. Babies coming out of the swaddle too early can cause major sleep disruptions.
4) Implement a transitional item to help with this transition.
Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit is a fabulous transitional item. This 3-layered suit provides babies with the comfort they need by helping to muffle their twitches and startle movements that can wake them prematurely. (Please note: If you are using a DockATot, baby must be out of the Dock before you use Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit.)
Have a 3-4 Month Old?
This is a hard time for many parents as huge developmental strides are happening at this age. Please read my advice HERE. I have an entire page of my website dedicated just for you.
What can be done if sleep is completely derailed after the swaddle transition?
For babies who are over 5 months and struggling with sleep, I have a class that can help conquer those rough nights. “The ABC’s of Sleep” is an online sleep training class that helps babies achieve 10-12 hour consolidated nights, wean night feedings, and enjoy restful naps too. Check it out HERE.
Cara Dumaplin is the founder of “Taking Cara Babies”. She is a neonatal nurse and sleep consultant with a mission to help parents navigate through these beginning years of parenthood. She is a mom to four kids who keep her laughing daily. Although she swore she would never date a doctor, it is with joy that she admits marrying her husband, a pediatrician, was the beginning of a crazy-amazing life together. (Albeit, she has had to learn to forgive him for constantly feeding their kids Pop-Tarts for breakfast.) A registered nurse with 19 years experience, Cara’s eyes light up when she discusses her passion of educating, encouraging, and empowering new parents. Follow Taking Cara Babies on Facebook or Instagram for helpful baby sleep tips, successful infant sleep stories, and a glimpse into this chaotic, yet blessed life. For more blogs by Cara, you can click HERE. Interested in her no-cry newborn class? You can learn more here: www.TakingCaraBabies.com/newborn-class.
Have a 3-4 month old, this page will be helpful: www.TakingCaraBabies.com/3-4-months.
If you are looking for a step-by-step class to help accomplish 10-12 hour nights in the crib, check out her class here: www.TakingCaraBabies.com/sleep-training
If you’re reading this in the early morning while trying to rock your baby back to sleep, then parents: we stand with you. We’ve all been there, trying to figure out when our restless munchkins will let us catch a few more Z’s. While you can’t predict the exact timing of when your baby’s schedule will normalize, it can be helpful to get a sense of how long most babies sleep, why they wake up, and how to help them.