Many parents of newborns worry that they will have to actively “wean” their baby from swaddling. Luckily, babies often send clear signals that they don’t like being swaddled anymore as they get more mobile.
On average, babies are ready to be weaned off swaddling between 3 and 4 months of age. However, many babies continue to enjoy being swaddled for naps while not be swaddled for night sleep. That’s ok! It’s more difficult to go to sleep during the day so swaddling can help.
How to tell if your baby no longer needs to be swaddled:
1. Your baby wiggles out of their swaddling blanket frequently.
2. Your baby can roll over-your baby fights the swaddle more then usual and no longer quiets easily when swaddled.
There are several different approaches to weaning your baby from swaddling:
-After 2 or 3 months, try swaddling her with one arm out. If she fusses and hits herself she is not ready- try again in a couple of weeks. If she is happy leave her arm out. In a couple of days or weeks you can try putting her down with both arms out.
-Some babies even like having their legs unswaddled first before trying the arms. It’s worth a try!
-If your baby is not rolling yet but busting out of her swaddle despite your expert swaddling techniques, try gradually loosening the blanket over the course of a week. This way he will slowly get used to having more freedom to move. With my daughters I started to swaddle them more loosely with their hands on their chest as a middle step in weaning the swaddle.
-If your newly unswaddled baby is fussing when you put him down, you can stay by his crib and put your hands on his chest to calm him and then slowly reduce the pressure and finally lift your hands off completely. Be careful, you don’t want to form a new sleep crutch during this process.
-Try transitioning with a blanket sleeper, or a Sleep Sack, which lets them move around but still gives them that cuddly contained feeling.
-Several clients recently told me about a new product called the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit. It is a sleep suit designed for babies 3months or older that combines the secure feeling of swaddling with the coziness of a sleeping bag. Use the discount code “SleepLady20” in the comments section in your order to receive 20% off.
Some reminders while you are weaning your baby from swaddling:
-Don’t forget to watch for your baby’s sleep windows so he is not over tired. Continue with all the other parts of your pre-sleep routine: room darkening shades, white noise, lullaby or short sway or rock prior to being put in the crib drowsy but awake. -Make sure your baby has plenty of tummy time during the day so that they can master rolling both ways.
Ask your questions on the The Sleep Lady’s Facebook Page where Certified Gentle Sleep Coaches are available for further help. Celebrate your successes, too, by sharing your stories with others! Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!