How to Wean Your Baby off of the Swaddle
Swaddling is amazingly helpful for newborn sleep. I always recommend it as a first step to parents of newborns who are struggling with sleep.
However, like all good things, swaddling does come to an end. As soon as your baby can roll over on her own, it’s not safe for her to be swaddled anymore, as she can get stuck on her stomach and be unable to free herself.
This usually happens somewhere between 3-5 months, and the timing of when to stop swaddling is a choice you should make together with your pediatrician.
If the thought of putting your baby to bed unswaddled sends shivers down your spine, don’t worry. There’s a way out!
Weaning off of the swaddle isn’t easy (is anything baby-sleep related ever easy?) but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here’s what to do:
- For 3 nights, put your baby to bed swaddled as normal, but leave one arm out of the swaddle. If you see that he has a dominant arm (sucks that one or grasps more with it) start by taking that arm out.
- For 3 nights after that, take both arms out of the swaddle, but leave his tummy and legs encased in the swaddle. Each night, wrap the swaddle a bit more loosely.
- After that, put him to bed without the swaddle.
If you’re nervous about transitioning out of the swaddle, here’s a modified version you can try:
Follow the 3 steps listed above, but do it while putting your baby to sleep in a sleep sack, on top of the swaddle. Be very alert as to the temperature in your baby’s room if you do this- make the room cooler and consider putting your baby in just a onesie instead of pajamas.
As you take out one arm, then the other, then the entire swaddle, your baby will be gently transitioning into the sleep sack until she can sleep happily in the sleep sack, minus the swaddle.
Will this process happen quietly? Probably not! Do babies do anything quietly, ever?!
This will be a big change for your baby, so prepare for a tough transition. It can help to replace the swaddle with a wearable sleep sack. The Zipadee Zip has the feel of a swaddle with more flexibility to roll over, the and the Zen Sack has a weighted element that will make your baby feel cozy. You can also go for the no-frills option of any standard sleep sack, like the Halo.