Every parent knows the dreaded feeling in the pit of your stomach as you approach the time to start transitioning from swaddling. Swaddling works like a dream for many babies, lulling them to sleep, and helping babies sleep longer stretches. Like all good things, swaddling must come to an end at some point.
When it’s time for transitioning out of a swaddle, it throws a curveball at your baby and yourself. It feels as if you have to start from scratch all over again. Suddenly, your baby doesn’t want to sleep, crying all night, and all you want is to sleep because maternity and paternity leave ended weeks ago.
Figuring out how to wean from swaddling is a challenge. No one wants to lose sleep; I’ve been in your shoes. So, let’s take a look at the possible ways to wean from swaddling without losing your mind.
When Should You Stop Swaddling The Baby?
There is no one set age that everyone should start transitioning from swaddling. It’s best to stop when it’s developmentally appropriate for your baby.
What does that mean?
Most pediatricians recommend that you start transitioning out of swaddle when your baby rolls over or right beforehand. This generally happens between three to five months of age, but all babies are different. Some babies are ahead or behind this range.
When babies start to roll, the wide range of age is one reason that some pediatricians now advocate for parents to stop swaddling when their baby reaches eight weeks old. However, many babies aren’t ready to make the transition at this age, so it’s left to the parent’s discretion.
How to Transition Out of a Swaddle?
Being patient with your baby is the key to transitioning out of a swaddle. It requires patience and understanding.
Think about it.
Your baby leaves the womb and enters this big scary world; swaddling brings the ultimate comfort and peace. He doesn’t understand the dangers of swaddling for too long, so removing the swaddle feels scary and frustrating.
Here are some of the options for weaning your baby from swaddling.
The first option you have is to stop swaddling cold turkey. You take off the swaddle and never use it again.
As you can imagine, cold turkey is rarely the right way to go. Most babies will not respond well to cold turkey; they need a slower transition than cold turkey.
Parents seem to forget one option because they feel as if it’s inconsistent to start unswaddling for naps first. A different part of the brain handles day and night sleep, so doing this also helps your baby get used to life without the swaddle at one step.
Another option you can use as a transitional after swaddling is to swaddle your baby with one arm. Some swaddle sacks allow you to do this, or you can do so with your swaddling blanket.
Swaddling with one arm out is an excellent trick because your baby still has the snug, cozy feeling they prefer, but one arm out ensures he is safe if he decides to roll over. It’s the step before arms out.
After one to four weeks of this site, allow both arms out or try a different trick.
One product that you can buy to help with this is the Anna & Eve Arms-Only Swaddle. It’s used to transition your baby out of a swaddle without a wearable blanket. So, if you need to keep one arm at your baby’s side, this will do the trick.
Swaddle Only Part of the Night
If your baby hasn’t learned how to roll over yet, another option you can try is to only swaddle for part of the night. There are several ways to do this.
- Swaddle with one arm out in the first part of the night, and then when he wakes, swaddle all of the way, trying to stretch the time when he only has one arm.
- Swaddle as you usually do for half of the night, and in the second half, remove the swaddle and use a sleep sack. That way, you get some sleep!
Use a Transitional Sleeping Suit
Many parents swear by the use of a transitional sleeping suit. An excellent example is the Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit, but other swaddle transition suit choices exist. You can use this to transition from swaddle to the Merlin Sleep Suit, which gives your baby that cozy, snug feel, but he’s not swaddled anymore.
Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit is a three-layered bodysuit that keeps babies comfortable while reducing their twitching and startling that might wake them early. It’s important not to overdress your baby under the sleepsuit to avoid overheating your baby.
This sleepsuit comes in cotton and microfleece. For safety, I recommend cotton because it’s more breathable. We know that overheating increases the risk of SIDS. Also, never use a sleepsuit when your child has a fever.
Transition to a Sleep Sack
One of the most popular options is to try transitioning from a swaddle to a sleep sack. The possibilities are endless. Here are some of the best sleep sacks or transitional sleep sacks to try.
1) The Zipadee-Zip is a great choice; it’s designed to help parents transition from swaddle to the Zipadee Zip. It’s a one-piece suit that reduces your baby’s startle reflex and looks like a star-fished-shaped swaddler. This shape is purposeful; it lets your baby move around the crib freely while still being cozy.
If your baby is still swaddling at six months or your baby is rolling but needs to be swaddled, the Zipadee-Zip is incredible. Babies can push up with their hands when moving around. That gives you peace of mind.
2) HALO Easy Transition Sleep Sack is designed to help control your baby’s startle reflex with a snug fit around his arms. Your baby feels secure without being swaddled.
The HALO Easy Transition is excellent as a transition between swaddling and a wearable blanket. It works as a swaddle for a baby who rolls but isn’t ready for a loose wearable blanket that doesn’t provide that beloved snugness.
3) Nested Bean Zen Sack is an option when your baby is ready for transitioning from a swaddle to a sleeping bag. Nested Bean stands out because these are weighed sleep sacks, so it has the same feeling as if your hand was on your baby. That helps your baby sleep longer and feel safer.
How Long Does It Take to Transition Out of a Swaddle?
When to stop swaddling your baby and how long it takes for the transition to play out depends on your plan and your baby. Some babies transition much easier than others. For some babies, this process takes longer and is much harder to handle.
In general, it will take between one to four weeks to transition. Some babies might take up to six weeks, but those are the stubborn babies who love the coziness of a swaddle.
Sometimes, It’s Not the Right Time
As long as your baby is not rolling over, understand that it might not be the right time to unswaddle your baby. Also, if it is the right time, know that your baby, who might sleep through the night, will probably not do so when you remove swaddling. It takes time for a baby to adjust.
Stay patient. Follow your baby’s lead, and be open to stepping back if this isn’t the right time for your baby.
Hey, this is Linda. My biggest accomplishment in life is being a mother of four children. Their current ages range from almost ten years old down to 20 months old.
I’m passionate about writing parenting articles because I understand so well all of the problems and trials you face as a parent. From breastfeeding woes to budgeting problems and behavior problems, along with everything in between, chances are I’ve faced it over the last ten years. Read more about Linda here.