Did you love the way the nurse swaddled your little bub to make them calm? The technique soothed your newborn and made them sleep so long that you couldn't help but wonder to yourself, "how long do you swaddle a baby?"
Read on to learn about the technique, the benefits, and when it is the right time to allow your child's development and drop the swaddle.
The Purpose Of Swaddling And The Benefits
Swaddling is a traditional practice/method of wrapping your baby up gently in a light, breathable blanket. This helps your baby to feel calm and sleepy. When swaddling your young one, you should ensure that only their body is wrapped and not their neck or head. Ensuring that reduces the chance of suffocation.
Swaddling your baby helps protect them against their natural startle reflex. The startle reflex makes your baby awake from her sleep. Therefore swaddling means better sleep for both of you. Swaddling also helps your little one feel snug and secure, mimicking the same feeling they felt while in the womb.
You don't need to swaddle your baby, as not all babies agree to be wrapped. If your bub is happy without swaddling, don't feel overwhelmed and feel like a failure when you see your neighbor's baby looking like a cute burrito. Whether your baby agrees to wrap or not, you should never forget to put them to sleep on their back.
Putting your baby to sleep is factual no matter the situation, but it is especially true if you have swaddled them.
Benefits of swaddling
There are many benefits of swaddling your little one apart from the cuteness that comes with it. When your little one is swaddled, it calms and soothes them and helps them sleep longer. Studies have shown that wrapped children tend to be quieter, have lower and more stable heart rates, and sleep more.
When swaddling is done correctly, it becomes a beautiful and safe way that helps calm and comforts your young one.
Swaddling helps mimic a parent's soft touch
Did you know that the sense of touch has neurological effects? This means that the sense of touch triggers a self-soothing response in the human brain, stabilizing our heart rates and blood pressure and lowering cortisol levels.
Touch also is fundamental for your infant's healthy development. Therefore when you swaddle your little one correctly and snuggly, it mimics the gentle pressure of a mother's touch. Your infant enjoys a longer, more restful sleep with few disturbances.
Swaddling helps regulate body temperature.
When swaddling your infant, ensure to use a high-quality breathable swaddle that is 100% cotton that will not overheat your bub. Swaddling helps to maintain your baby's optimal temperature.
Should you overburden when it is cold? NO. Do not over bundle your infant even during the winter, as this might increase the risk of SIDS. To ensure your baby is warm even during the cold season, you should maintain a comfortable room temperature of 65-70 degrees F.
Always check your little ones' body temperature when swaddled by touching their back with the back of your hand. The touch should feel comfortable and not sticky or too warm.
Swaddling helps reduce the incidence of SIDS.
The AAP (American Association of Pediatrics) reports that swaddling your infant helps them to maintain the supine position while they sleep. Thus when swaddling is done correctly, it becomes safe and effective.
Swaddling your infant also constraints their little arms, therefore preventing them from pulling loose beddings or blankets that might pose suffocation hazards. Transitioning out of a swaddle will be baby-led as they begin to roll over.
Swaddling helps to moderate the startle reflex.
Swaddling your infant helps moderate the startle reflex, also called the More reflex. It's a neurological response that causes your infant to feel as though they are free-falling, which is a regular occurrence for the first 3-4 months of life.
More reflex indicates a healthy baby, but its effect can awaken your baby from their sleep due to the involuntary movements. Therefore swaddling helps curb those spontaneous movements.
Swaddling your baby mimics the womb.
Swaddling your newborn helps to re-create the secure and cozy feeling of the womb they were already used to. Thus making the transition from your womb to a whole new world more manageable.
At What Age Should You Stop Swaddling Your Baby?
If your baby has been going along with swaddling, it will come to a point, and you will wonder "what age to stop swaddling." Well, you should stop swaddling your infants immediately after they start to roll over.
Rolling over typically happens between the ages of two and four months. During this age gap, your infant might start to be able to roll onto their tummy. They might still not be able to roll back over onto their backs.
After your baby shows the signs of rolling on their own, you can start the weaning process by wrapping your baby with one arm out, and if they continue to sleep well for a few nights, then you can do away with the swaddle altogether.
7 Signs It's Time To Stop Swaddling
As much as swaddling your infant helps, it can not last forever. Swaddling might become unsafe as your baby grows and becomes more active and mobile. You should therefore transition your bub out of it at the right time. Here is when to stop swaddling your baby burrito.
Startle Reflex Starts To Go Away
The main reason why swaddling is essential to your newborn is that it helps them sleep better. This is achieved as swaddling helps to prevent your baby's More reflex.
All newborns' startle reflex starts to fade anywhere between the ages of two to four months. Then your baby will begin to startle less during their sleep. It indicates your answer: "when should I stop swaddling my baby?"
Baby Starts Waking Up More Frequent Throughout The Night
If your little one starts to wake up more frequently at night crying or fussy, maybe they are telling you it is time to transition out of the swaddle. You will know what your baby is trying to communicate if you try to feed them, but they do not want to.
The frequent waking might be a way of showing that they are now being uncomfortable in the swaddle. And in the process of trying to break free or get an arm out might be the cause of the frequent wakings.
Baby Breaks Out Of The Swaddle
If you find that your little one has been able to break out of the swaddle during their sleep, it's a sign that they are no longer safe to be swaddled. Baby might have been able to wiggle an arm out or ultimately themselves from the swaddle.
Your baby breaking out of the swaddle creates loose fabric on their sleeping area, increasing the risk of SIDS.
Baby Starts To Show Signs Of Rolling Over
As earlier mentioned, your baby will start to show the signs of rolling on their stomach from two months old to answer your query of "when should a baby roll over?" At two months, your little one is working on their rolling skills, meaning it is the right time to ditch the swaddle.
At this point, the swaddle will become unsafe as it can prevent your baby from rolling onto their back after they roll on their stomachs while sleeping.
Baby Begins To Fight Being Swaddled
While you'll swaddle some babies without resistance, others will have initial resistance but then get used to being swaddled if your baby had no problem with being swaddled and enjoyed it. Then suddenly, they start to fight being swaddled. As they get older, they might be telling you that they are ready to sleep swaddle-free.
Being Fussier Than Usual
Yes, we agree that babies can be fussy for many different reasons. Pay attention to your little one's cues, as they might be saying they are hungry, hot, going through a growth spurt, sleepy, or tired.
Try handling all the cues your baby might be showing ( of course, if it's a growth spurt, a few days is what it takes ), and if they are all sorted and they are still fussy. Then it might mean that all they want is to break free of the swaddle.
Your Baby Is Heating
Your baby is yet to learn how to regulate their body temperature; as a result, they might become too hot and eventually overheat if swaddled. Overheating mainly happens if you wrap your little one and do not carefully monitor their body temperature.
Overheating increases the risk of SIDS, according to AAP. Therefore when swaddling, look out for signs that your little one might be too hot. If this is the occurrence ( always being hot ), then it is a sign that you should stop swaddling your young one, irrespective of how comfortable it looks. You will notice your baby is overheating by heat rash, damp hair, rapid breathing, sweating, and flushed cheeks.
How Do You Transition Out Of Swaddling Your Baby?
All babies will eventually transition out of a swaddle. But you might wonder, "how to transition out of a swaddle?" as you have wrapped and unwrapped your little one more times than you could even count. And as swaddling has become part of the sleeping routine, you might dread what's ahead.
Mostly, your baby will eventually learn how to sleep without the swaddle. Here are some methods to make the transition easier for you and your baby.
The One Arm Out Method
Transitioning your baby out of the swaddle with the one-arm-out method is perfectly safe, as long as you wrap the swaddle blanket securely. Leaving one arm out gives your baby the security and comfort they are used to while still getting them used to sleeping without the swaddle.
Both Arms Out Method
Do the one arm for a couple of nights, then include the other arm. So that the baby is now sleeping with both her arms out, some swaddles allow the arms to be out if wrapping with the arms out is proving to be a task. Eventually, entirely wean your baby out of the swaddle.
Legs Out Method
The one-leg out method is another method of how to transition your baby out of the swaddle. You can opt for this method before trying the arms out method. When you leave your baby's legs unwrapped, you will only swaddle their arms and torso.
Removing The Swaddle
After gradually taking your baby through the above methods of weaning the swaddle, your little one will become more comfortable sleeping with the swaddle covering a small portion of their body.
After a few nights and no resistance, it might be the right time for you to remove the swaddle and let your little one sleep swaddle-free.
Alternating Between Using The Swaddle And Sleeping Freely
Alternating between using the swaddle and sleeping freely is the best swaddle transition for your little one. You can try letting your baby sleep without the swaddle during their naps and swaddle them to sleep during the night or vice versa.
When you alternate sleeping with a swaddle and without. You are slowly allowing your infant to get used to sleeping without a swaddle. With patience and time, your tot will learn how to fully take their naps and sleep through the night without using a swaddle.
How Do I Get My Baby To Sleep Without Being Swaddled?
Some babies will transition from the swaddle without a fuss. But others will make it an uphill task as they find it difficult to sleep without a swaddle.
So, "how do you get your baby to sleep without being swaddled?" Most babies will adjust to sleeping without a swaddle blanket within 1-2 weeks. However, this can take longer if your little one is regularly experiencing the startle reflex.
You can consider other ways of soothing your little one during these changes. Also, remember that swaddling was a tool in your bedtime routine toolbox.
Some other techniques that will help your baby sleep without the swaddle are:
- Using white noise
- Getting a calm sleeping routine
- Wearable blankets and sleep slacks
- Creating a relaxing nursery environment
- Baby massage
- Reducing your baby's stimulation
How Long Will It Take For My Baby To Adjust?
It is essential that you remember when you stop swaddling your baby, they will tend to get fussy and cranky. But that should not prevent you from transitioning them from the swaddle. Swaddling them for any longer than necessary might not be suitable for their development and might increase the risk of SIDS.
Usually, it may take your baby one week or two to accept that they now have to embrace some soothing methods other than the swaddle. This is normal, and your baby might settle into the new sleep routine sooner than anticipated.
However, if your baby cannot get back to sleeping through the night, then some other sleep-related problems might be of concern to you. You should contact your baby's doctor regarding the same and rule out any illness or sleep regression.
Tips For Helping The Transition Out Of A Swaddle
Create a Soothing Atmosphere
Creating a soothing environment for your baby will be re-creating the womb for them. The swaddle provides your baby with the comfort and security they felt while in the womb.
Therefore by creating a soothing environment, your baby will still feel the warmth they felt while swaddling. You can also ensure that your baby's room temperature is at the recommended range.
Ensure Your Baby's Crib Setup Is Hazard-Free and Comfortable
After you have tackled the question, "when do you stop swaddling a baby?" You should ensure that there are no soft objects (the baby mattress should be firm ) and lose beddings in the baby during naps and sleep time.
The AAP recommends that the baby's crib be free of any blankets, positioners, bumpers, pillows, stuffed animals, or sheepskin.
You should also check to see that there are no loose cords or appliances within your baby's reach.
Maintain a Consistent Bedtime Routine
Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine for your baby will help her sleep better as it aids transitional periods and sleep regression. An ideal pre-bedtime routine will last anywhere from one hour to fifteen minutes. This is determined by your baby's temperament and how they have spent their day. Here is a timeline of an outline that you can adopt for what your baby's bedtime routine should look like:
Forty-five minutes to one hour before sleep; bath your baby, change their diaper, and apply baby lotion.
Thirty to 45 minutes before sleep, give your baby a massage and clothe them in their pajamas. You can also turn the room dim/ dark and use some ambient noise.
Fifteen minutes to 30 minutes before sleep; if your baby is still nursing, nurse them or bottle-feed: Rock baby and any other calming activity of your choice.
Ten minutes to 15 minutes before sleep; move to the baby nursery if you have not. But ideally, the sleep routine should be done while in the nursery. Burp your baby if they need it and gently snuggle the baby.
Five minutes before sleep; by this time, your baby should be very drowsy. Put them in their crib in this state before they fall asleep.
Sleep time; as your baby falls asleep, try moving further and further away from them in a bid to leave the room.
Swap the Swaddle for a Sleepsack
Trading your baby's swaddle blanket for a sleep sack is a perfect swaddle transition option. A sleepsack is like a tiny sleeping bag for your baby, also known as a wearable blanket. It is usually made from wool, cotton, or fleece to ensure optimal warmth for your baby. It also features zippers and snaps for easy on and offs, making it a great choice when transitioning from a swaddle.
Ensure the room temperature is just right
The best room temperature for your baby should be between 68-72 degrees F or 20 - 22 degrees C. Babies are more sensitive to changes in room temperature because they are small, and their bodies are still growing. Ensuring the room temperature is suitable for your baby with a lightweight well-fitting baby sleep bag will make the baby comfortable and safe for sleep.
Try Using a Pacifier
Yes, using a pacifier may help your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep longer, which means more sleep for you.
Remember that all babies are unique, so make an effort to be patient and consistent when you finally wean your baby off the swaddle. Withstand the temptation of rushing in to reassure your child when they cry. This will teach your baby that they can fall asleep without a swaddle. And eventually, your baby will get tired and fall asleep.
You have to have the heart to be resilient, as that is the most challenging part- do not interrupt the process before it can work!
At what age do you stop swaddling? The rule of thumb is that you should stop swaddling your baby when they start to roll over. While swaddling has many benefits for your newborn, it gets to when you need to transition your young one from the swaddle.