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Welcoming a newborn into your family is such an exciting and joyous time. During the first few months, swaddling can be a helpful technique to provide comfort and promote better sleep for your baby. However, as your little one grows, you may find it necessary to transition away from swaddling.
Swaddling is beneficial for newborns as it mimics the snug environment of the womb and helps reduce the startle reflex. However, as babies develop, they start to gain more control over their limbs and need freedom of movement for their physical and cognitive development. Transitioning away from swaddling is essential to promote healthy growth and prevent potential issues such as hip dysplasia or delayed motor skills.
Signs that Your Baby is Ready
There are some indicators that tell you your baby is ready to transition out of the swaddle. It’s important to note that babies shouldn’t be swaddled once they show signs of rolling.
- Increased ability to break out of the swaddle
- Rolling from back to tummy or vice versa
- Desire for more movement during sleep
- Resisting being swaddled or showing frustration when swaddled
I have a really easy step by step swaddle transition plan in the graphic image below.
Arms-out swaddling: Begin by leaving your baby’s arms out while swaddling the torso. This allows for more freedom of movement while still providing a sense of security. You’ll want to do this one arm at a time over the timespan of a few days or so for a really smooth transition and less frequent waking while transitioning.
What is a sleep sack?
A sleep sack is a wearable blanket that provides a feeling of security and warmth without swaddling the baby. We found it easy to use sleep sacks or wearable blankets at the end of swaddling our newborns. They last quite a long time, too. One of my favorite sleep sacks is made by Burt’s Bees. I love the organic cotton. This brand can last not only months but can be used for multiple children.
Tips for a Successful Transition
- Establish a bedtime routine
A consistent bedtime can help your baby through sleep transitions. Most babies do well with a bedtime routine. This can be as simple as diaper change, bottle, bed or involve more steps such as a bath, baby massage and bedtime story.
- Create a calm sleep environment
Ensure the sleep environment is conducive to restful sleep. Start by using blackout curtains and a white noise machine. Spending time in a calm environment before you lay your baby down can help them relax and fall asleep.
- Monitor your baby’s cues
Pay attention to your baby’s reactions and adjust your approach accordingly. Babies are always trying to communicate with us. Sometimes it might be as simple as your baby wants to stretch themselves out and have more freedom while sleeping.
My Favorite Sleepwear
- Halo Sleepsack: The Halo Sleepsack is a popular choice for transitioning from swaddling. It offers a secure fit around the torso while leaving the arms free. The Sleepsack is available in various sizes and materials to suit your baby’s needs.
- Love to Dream Swaddle UP: The Love to Dream Swaddle UP is designed to allow your baby to sleep with their arms up in a natural position. It provides a snug fit around the torso and allows for self-soothing while preventing the startle reflex. It comes in different sizes and is made from soft, breathable fabric.
- Nested Bean Zen Sack: The Nested Bean Zen Sack combines the benefits of a wearable blanket with a lightly weighted center to mimic a parent’s gentle touch. It promotes better sleep by creating a soothing and secure environment for your baby. The Zen Sack is available in multiple sizes and styles.
- Aden + Anais Sleeping Bag: The Aden + Anais Sleeping Bag is a lightweight and breathable option for transitioning out of swaddling. It offers a loose fit around the arms and legs while providing a cozy sleep environment. The sleeping bag comes in various adorable designs and sizes.
- SwaddleMe Transition Swaddle: The SwaddleMe Transition Swaddle is specifically designed for babies who are ready to transition from traditional swaddling. It features adjustable wings that can be gradually removed to allow more freedom of movement. The Transition Swaddle comes in different sizes and patterns.
Picking the right swaddle blanket can take a lot of trial and error. By the time your baby settles on one, you may need another size up. When you find the one that works, stick with that same brand.
Transitioning your newborn baby out of swaddling for sleep is a significant milestone in their development. By recognizing the signs of readiness and figuring out what strategies work for your baby, you can make the transition smooth and successful. Remember, every baby is unique, and the process may require patience and flexibility. With your loving support, your little one will embrace the newfound freedom and continue to thrive in their sleep routine.
- Section on Orthopaedics and Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, AAP. (2016). Safe Sleep and Skin-to-Skin Care in the Neonatal Period for Healthy Term Newborns. Pediatrics, 138(3), e20161889.
- National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Swaddling: What It Is and When to Stop. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/baby-sleep/swaddling-what-it-is-and-when-to-stop