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Knowing When to Stop Swaddling

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

newborn care specialist swaddling an infant

Swaddling is like magic for newborns!

However, there are indications that signal when it's time to stop swaddling for your baby's safety and development.

Knowing when to stop swaddling is a question that often sneaks up on parents! I mean just when we've learned to swaddle well, and our baby is starting to sleep well while swaddled, it's time to transition out of it! That happened fast!

We've covered the magic of swaddling, why swaddling is comforting to your baby, and the types of swaddles for minimalists. Now we'll cover, when's the best time to stop swaddling.

First, a word on when to stop swaddling from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

The AAP says, "If infants are swaddled, always place them on the back. Weighted swaddles, weighted clothing, or weighted objects on or near the baby are not safe and not recommended. When an infant exhibits signs of attempting to roll (which usually occurs at 3 to 4 months but may occur earlier), swaddling is no longer appropriate, as it could increase the risk of suffocation if the swaddled infant rolls to the prone position."

Here are the key signs on when to stop swaddling:

  • Rolling Over: The most critical sign that it's time to stop swaddling is when your baby starts to show signs they are about to roll over. Once a baby can roll from back to tummy, it becomes unsafe to swaddle them because they need to be able to use their arms to reposition themselves. Swaddling restricts this movement and can lead to suffocation if a baby rolls onto their tummy and can't roll back.

  • Age and Development: We recommend watching for those early signs of readiness and being vigilant in transitioning out of the swaddle. For most babies, this happens between two to four months of age. However, each baby is unique, so it's vital to pay attention to your baby's cues. If they appear increasingly agitated or resist swaddling, it may be time to make the transition.

  • Weight and Size: Some babies may outgrow swaddling sooner than others due to their size and development. A baby who is too big or strong for the swaddle is at risk of breaking free and becoming entangled.

Here are two options when the time comes:

  • Gradual Transition: When you decide to stop swaddling, consider a gradual transition over a period of a week. Begin by swaddling with one arm out and then both arms out. This allows your baby to adapt to the increased freedom of movement gradually.

  • Cold Turkey: Another option is cold turkey and this should be the method you use if your baby is actually trying to roll over or has rolled over before.

Swaddle Alternatives

When it's time to stop swaddling, there are alternatives to help your baby sleep comfortably and safely. Sleep sacks and wearable blankets are designed to keep your baby warm while allowing their arms to remain free. They are a safe and convenient alternative to traditional swaddling when your baby has outgrown being swaddled.

Swaddling is a technique that can offer comfort to your baby in their earliest days.

However, it's crucial to recognize the signs indicating when it's time to stop swaddling, primarily when your baby can roll over. The Jacksonville Baby Company is there to help make this transition a smooth one for you and your baby! Being attentive to your baby's developmental milestones and needs, we ensure a smooth and safe transition away from swaddling, setting the stage for peaceful nights of sleep for you and your little one.

a lady wearing glasses and a burnt orange dress sits in a hammock smiling

Authored by Elizabeth Luke

Elizabeth is the founder and CEO of The Jacksonville Baby Company. Elizabeth and her husband and best friend, Richard are parents to four children. With certifications in Postpartum and Infant Care Support, Childbirth and Newborn Care Education, Lactation Support, and Infant Sleep, she is a wealth of knowledge and has a heart that is passionate about helping parents live their best lives while also ensuring their children are safe, happy, and leading their healthiest lives possible! Check out all of our services!

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