After the birth of a baby, the nurse attendant will most likely swaddle the baby. This is because swaddling works well to mimic the warmth a baby gets while in the womb.
Swaddling is the practice of wrapping a baby in a blanket, leaving only the head sticking out at the top. The hands and the legs are securely covered in and comfortably resting inside the blanket.
In the first months of life, swaddling helps a baby sleep longer, even with Moro reflex. A well-swaddled baby will easily drift back to sleep even after being startled out of sleep.
A time comes when you need to stop swaddling your baby. In this article, we discuss when and how you can comfortably wean swaddling.
Let’s get started!
When Should A Baby Be Swaddled?
Swaddling is done for very young babies, usually from birth until they start showing signs of rolling over and freeing themselves from the swaddling blanket.
However, every baby is different. And while all infants should be swaddled for at least two months, it is possible that your baby can take longer to wean off the blanket. Some take much longer, even up to 5 months.
Swaddle your baby if:
- The Moro reflex is still too strong – This natural twitching occurs in all babies. However, some take longer to outgrow it than others. If your baby is still experiencing it, it’s better to keep him swaddled up so that he can easily fall back to sleep after waking up.
- Your baby has eczema or other itches – An itch-scratch cycle can make it almost impossible for your baby to fall asleep. Swaddling him will ensure that the hands are locked in, and so there will be no scratching. You know that a scratch here will lead to another itch there, and the cycle will go on. Preventing scratching will ultimately increase your baby’s quality of sleep.
- Your baby is fussy and fretful – The world is a strange place for these little lives, and fear can easily overwhelm them. If you notice that your baby always gets fussy and fretful, swaddling will help to settle him by providing a sense of security, just like cuddling would do.
Is Swaddling Safe?
Yes, as long as swaddling safety measures are followed. There are guidelines provided by relevant institutions to guide parents on how and when swaddling should be done.
For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be weaned swaddling at the age of 2-3 months or when they start rolling.
They should be swaddled using a thin breathable blanket, and their body temperature should be checked regularly to determine whether they are warm enough. Also, ensure that the baby is dressed according to the weather.
The head and the neck should never be swaddled, and even though swaddling should be firm and gentle, it shouldn’t be too tight. Your baby should be able to move freely, and their legs should settle naturally in their position.
Making the swaddling too tight will keep the legs together and straight and, in return, increase the risk of hip problems for the baby. If your baby enjoys staying without being swaddled, it would be preferable to let them remain unswaddled.
Avoid swaddling while breastfeeding. The baby moves hands and legs freely during breastfeeding to give you hunger cues and trigger milk release.
AAP also recommends that babies should be put to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Allowing a swaddled baby to sleep on their side or front can lead to an obstruction in their breathing, and they might suffocate.
When Should I Stop Swaddling My Baby?
There’s no stipulated time to stop swaddling your baby, but you can look out for the signs and know that it’s time to keep the swaddling blanket away.
You’ll know it’s time to stop swaddling your baby when they:
- Start to roll over.
- Have reduced or no Moro reflex.
- Do not quiet down on swaddling.
- Fight the swaddle and free from it often.
- Wake up more often at night than before.
Even though AAP recommends weaning swaddling at 2-3 months, some babies require swaddling for up to 5 months. Always remember that every child is different, and you should find out what your baby’s needs are when it comes to swaddling.
How to Stop Swaddling
You can choose a step by step swaddling process for your baby, or you can go the cold-turkey way.
For the step by step process:
Start with swaddling with one arm out.
Once your baby starts giving cues that it’s time to wean swaddling, let your baby sleep with one arm out for about three nights. The other tucked arm acts as a resistance to Moro reflex if it is still strong in your baby. The baby will smoothly go back to sleep afterward. With time, they will outgrow the Moro reflex and will be able to sleep better.
Swaddle with both arms out.
Let the baby sleep with both arms out. Observe how they sleep for the next few nights, just to confirm that it wasn’t too early to wean off the swaddle. If Moro reflex happens, it means that maybe it’s not time to wean swaddling yet. You can continue to swaddle your baby and try again after a few weeks. Remember, to stop swaddling our baby is a process that requires patience.
Completely remove the swaddle blanket.
After a few days of swaddling with both arms out, confirm that your baby has been sleeping well. If yes, then you can comfortably remove the swaddling blanket, and you will have successfully weaned off swaddling your baby.
Some babies are quick and very active, such that they kick the blankets away or pull them any time they get covered. These require a relatively short transition because the longer you keep blankets around them, the more you put their lives at risk.
The “Cold-turkey” method works for these kinds of babies. This is where you wean off the swaddles completely at once.
It’s important to know what works best for your baby and go for it because in the end, all we want is a happy baby, and that translates to a happy parent.
Your baby might become fussy and even take longer to sleep after weaning swaddling, mainly if they were used to falling asleep wrapped in a swaddling blanket.
A post-swaddling crisis can take up to a week before your baby finally adapts to the changes.
After successfully weaning off swaddling, you have to find new ways to help your baby fall asleep quickly and eventually develop a sleeping pattern. This is where Baby Sleep Miracle by Mary-Ann Schuler comes in.
Falling asleep is a habit that any child can quickly develop if guided correctly and consistently. Ever wondered which workable tricks you can use to soothe your baby and get them to sleep?
Baby Sleep Miracle provides the do’s and the don’ts, giving you tips to help your baby go to sleep and get to sleep better.
I’ll give you a snippet of some of the tricks explained in the book.
- Laugh together with your baby.
Laughter is medicine to the soul and the body. It works to remove tension from your baby, creating a happy atmosphere. Your baby can sleep more peacefully in this kind of atmosphere than when the baby goes to sleep crying.
- Get your baby to sleep early.
Have you ever heard someone say, “let the baby stay awake longer so that they sleep longer at night”? Well, it doesn’t work that way. The longer your baby stays awake, the more tired they get and the fussier they get.
- Create some noise that your baby loves.
Yes. You read that correctly. Noise is helpful to get your baby to sleep. Not all kinds of noise, of course. Find a soothing sound, maybe some music that will help your baby drift away into sleep.
Baby Sleep Miracle gives more of this information, explaining in a detailed form and showing how to apply each of these tricks practically. Consistently following the guide provided in this material results in satisfying results, and your baby will hardly notice the absence of the swaddling blanket.
It is said that repetition is the key to a lasting impression. You know that your baby will have a reasonably hard time adapting to the new environment for the first few days after weaning off the swaddling blanket.
Remember that any time you’re weaning from a sleep association, the sleep pattern will be disrupted. Repeating good sleep habits every day will help your baby develop a sleep pattern, and your baby will sleep better.
Incorporate other practices like reading a story or singing a song to your baby before bedtime, place them in their bed before they entirely fall asleep, and dream-feed the baby.
Are you tired of sleep deprivation and need a full night’s sleep, but your baby is not letting you? Remember to get your copy of Baby Sleep Miracle and begin your journey to a healthy, more relaxed, and easy-to-parent child who is excited about going to sleep.