Transitioning Out of the Swaddle

Cara Dumaplin, Founder

If you have watched or attended the newborn 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 really does require patience, and then for some babies, this transition is quite 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. (A few great ones are: Kyte Baby, WoolinoNested Bean, and Halo. ) You can learn more about sleep sacks in this video

2) Swaddle With One Arm Out.
This works great with a swaddle like The Ollie Swaddle or The Nested Bean Zen Swaddle. 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. Code: CARA15 can save you 15%.

5)Finally, move baby to a sleep sack or sleep bag for night sleep and naps. This video will help you understand why I love sleep sacks and how they can help in the months ahead. Check out a few of my favorites: Woolino, Kyte Baby, Nested Bean, and Halo

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.

***Dr. Moon of the AAP has stated “I would stop swaddling at 2 months.” However, this is NOT the current recommendation. The most current official recommendation of the AAP states “when an infant exhibits signs of attempting to roll, swaddling should no longer be used.” Please notice, there is no emphasis on age, but rather the developmental skill of rolling.
You can see that highlighted here:

Of course, you and your doctor should make the best decision for YOUR baby about when swaddling should be discontinued.

hey there!

I'm Cara.

I’m a mom of four, neonatal nurse, and wife of a pediatrician. My passion is teaching parents how to help their babies sleep with the science of a nurse and the heart of a mama so they can reclaim the joy of parenthood.

I'm Cara.

I’m a mom of four, neonatal nurse, and wife of a pediatrician. My passion is teaching parents how to help their babies sleep with the science of a nurse and the heart of a mama so they can reclaim the joy of parenthood.