In the first months of their lives, swaddling your little one can bring both of you comfort. For babies, it makes them feel more secure and safe, often reminding them of life in the womb. For you, it offers a simple way to calm your baby and get them to sleep longer. However, you can only swaddle them for so long before they outgrow it. But how can you tell your little one is over swaddling? Here are a few signs to watch out for.
1. Your little one hates being swaddled
A simple sign that it’s time to move on from swaddling is a fussier baby, especially every time you try swaddling them. If your little one is fighting you more than usual as you try to swaddle them, then maybe it’s time they started sleeping hands-free.
2. The startle reflex is gone
The biggest reason why many mothers swaddle their babies is because of the startle reflex. These sudden jerking movements can interrupt your baby’s sleep; however, it starts to fade away between 2 to 4 months. At this time, if you notice your child startling less, it is time to transition out of swaddling to sleeping hands-free.
3. Your baby breaks out of the swaddle
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends swaddling newborns in the first few months of life. This wrapping offer comfort and reduces the startle reflex, which interferes with their sleep. However, when they start breaking out of the swaddle, then swaddling them is no longer safe. The loose fabric poses a choking hazard to the little one. If you find your baby breaking out of the swaddle more often, it’s time to move on.
4. They have started rolling over
A big part of why swaddling infant’s works is because they have a limited range of movement. Once safely tucked into a swaddle, there’s very little chance that your baby will roll over during the night. However, when they start developing their rolling skills having their arms tucked in means they can’t roll back in case they rolled over while sleeping. This increases the risk of SIDS significantly.
5. Your baby wakes up more during the night
The goal of swaddling your baby is for them to sleep longer; however, if you notice your baby waking up more during the night crying or being fussier than usual without needing to feed or change, it might be time to stop swaddling them. As they cry, they might try to break themselves free from the swaddle because it’s uncomfortable for them. Simply unwrap them and soothe them back to sleep. They will sleep a lot more soundly now.
Now that you know the signs to look out for, here are a few things to keep in mind when transitioning. Make the change slowly instead of simply going cold turkey. This means letting out an arm at a time before dropping the whole thing. Alternatively, you could switch to sleeping sacks which are safer alternatives to swaddling. Additionally, this is a great time to start developing a calming sleep routine as an alternative to swaddling.