Swaddling is an ancient practice of wrapping young babies which was originally carried out as it was believed to help them develop a straight, strong back before they could walk.
Nowadays swaddling is one of those things that some health professionals are supportive of, and others are opposed to. So as with many things you come across in the parenting journey, it is really up to you as a parent to decide whether its something you want to try. But why do it, what are the benefits and risks, and if you start, how do you stop?
Benefits of swaddling
Risks of swaddling
Swaddling should be stopped either when your baby starts to show signs of rolling, or before 3 months which is the peak age for SIDS, whichever comes first.
When you’re getting ready to remove the swaddle (or make any changes to sleep habits), it’s a good idea to try to make sure your baby is absolutely ready for sleep, this way they will accept changes more readily. So try to make sure you have a lovely consistent bedtime routine, the bedroom lights are dim and the naps are timed well to avoid your little one becoming dysregulated.
Just go for it and swap to blankets, or (ideally) a baby sleeping bag.
Start with bedtime, any big changes to sleep are best tackled at bedtime as you will have melatonin and sleep pressure in your favour. This way children will often accept changes easier!
You may need to offer your baby some more support whilst falling asleep whilst you’re transitioning away from the swaddle, so don’t worry about cuddling/rocking/feeding to sleep you can always change this later.
Step 1 – try one arm out of the swaddle at bedtime, you may need to offer additional support like patting/shushing/rocking if your baby fusses.
Step 2 – after 2-3 days, move to swaddling with both arms out, or transition to a baby sleeping bag.
The most important thig is that even if you’re trying the gradual approach, if your baby seems to be trying to roll, you must stop using the swaddle right away.
Often as parents we worry that making changes like this will be a nightmare, but some babies don’t even notice the difference so you might be worrying about something that doesn’t happen.
As with any changes, consistency is key as is offering your baby responsive support through the transition, if you would like to learn more about how to create a routine that works for your baby or how to support your baby towards self-soothing in a gentle way, check out my online sleep courses, the DNA Sleep Program, or drop me a line to chat!