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Along with helpful tools like a gently rocking bassinet and a baby swing, swaddling is a great resource for newborns that reminds them of the comfort and protection of the womb. You love how calm a swaddle makes your baby (and how cute it looks), but at a certain point, it becomes time to say goodbye to the swaddle and transition to sleeping without one. Typically, babies will outgrow their swaddles at around the 4-month mark, though it can happen anytime they are ready.
If your baby has shown an increase in movement, a decrease in their startle reflex — known as the Moro reflex — or a desire to roll over, it’s very possible that they are at the transition point. According to the AAP, it’s very important that if they show any signs of rolling, you should stop swaddling immediately as they will need their arms to push themselves up when they are on their tummy. Below, we’ll outline the main steps in transitioning your baby out of the swaddle. With any luck, there won’t be too many sleepless nights and tears from your baby — or from you!
A Simple Swaddle Transition Plan for Your Baby
Step 1: Let One Arm Go Free
The best way to get your baby used to being without their swaddle is to do it gradually. Start by letting their dominant arm stay out of the swaddle and see how they do with that for 2-3 nights.
Step 2: Try Both Arms Out
The next step is to allow both arms to be free of the swaddle while the lower torso and legs are still wrapped tightly. Try this for 2-3 nights and see how they do.
Step 3: Consider if it’s the Right Time to Transition
Not every baby is ready to transition at four months and it may be that you are transitioning them too soon. If they haven’t been sleeping well with their arms free and have still been showing signs of their Moro reflex, it is probably too soon. Go back to swaddling and try this process again later.
Step 4: Stop Swaddling Entirely
After following the above steps, you can try using no swaddle at all with your little one. You may want to start the no swaddle routine at naptime as a test to see how they do before going a whole night without it.
While this can feel like a tricky transition for your little one, it’s an important part of their growth and soon they’ll be just as happy out of the swaddle as in it. Be patient and know that you are doing a great job as a parent!
New baby? Check out these other great tips for first time parents!