How To Transition Out Of The Swaddle

Here are some tips on how to know when to transition your baby out of the swaddle.

There are many benefits of swaddling your baby! I recommend using a swaddle blanket to encourage better, more restorative sleep for your newborn and infant. Swaddling helps to minimize the impact of the Moro reflex, also called the startle reflex. It can be great when it comes to helping your baby fall asleep. While it’s a helpful tool for newborns and young infants, when your baby starts showing signs of rolling, it is time to transition out of the swaddle and into a sleep sack or wearable blanket. When your baby can roll, leaving them in a swaddle can become a safety hazard and may disrupt your baby’s sleep. It can be overwhelming to stop swaddling, but most babies start to sleep better when you give them access to their hands- let’s learn how! 

How To Transition Out Of The Swaddle

There are a few different ways you can transition your baby out of the swaddle, and I’m here to share my tips on ways to do this with minimal impact on their sleep! 

When To Transition Out Of Swaddle

Here are some of the signs that it’s time to stop swaddling: 

  • Baby starts to break out of the swaddle 
  • Baby starts to get one or both arms out of the swaddle
  • Baby starts to roll to the side when awake 
  • Baby starts to roll to belly when awake 
  • Baby is 12 weeks or older 
  • Baby used to sleep well in the swaddle and suddenly isn’t 

How To Stop Swaddling Your Baby

Step 1 

Start by taking one arm out of the swaddle for nighttime sleep and naps for a couple of days. There may be disruption in your baby’s sleep because they now have access to an arm and they haven’t had that freedom yet! Try to ensure that you continue the same consistent sleep routine that you have been so that your baby knows what’s next. This will make the transition out of the swaddle much easier. 

Step 2 

Once your baby has adjusted to one arm out, take the other arm out so both arms are free. It may take your baby several days and nights to get used to having both arms out. Remember that this is new to them- try to be patient as they adjust to sleeping with this new freedom! 

Step 3

Now that your baby’s arms are free, you can transition them to a sleep sack. If you want a quicker way to transition your baby out of a swaddle, you can just go cold turkey straight to a sleep sack. 

If your baby needs some extra soothing during this transition, there are many ways that you can help calm them down and help them sleep more peacefully. Appropriately dressing your baby for sleep can be a key factor in how well your baby is sleeping. Keeping their environment dark, cool, quiet, and safe will support their Circadian rhythm and encourage positive sleeping habits. 

I’m a big fan of using sound to soothe your child, and have an entire blog post dedicated to the benefits of white noise for babies! Creating an optimal sleep environment will likely make a big difference in your baby’s sleep patterns. Every baby has different sleep and temperament tendencies, but adjusting their environment in whatever ways you can for better sleep is likely to make a big difference. 

Transitional Swaddle Sacks

I recommend transitioning to a cotton sleep sack, one that is not weighted. Weighted sleep sacks are not safe for sleep, per AAP recommendations. 

  • Halo 100% Cotton Sleep Sack
    • This sleep sack is great for all climates! You can use a cotton or fleece sleeper underneath depending on the temperature of your baby’s room. 
  • Burt’s Bees 100% Cotton Sleep Sack
    • Similar to the halo, this is a great sleep sack for all temperatures as you can adjust what your baby is wearing underneath.
  • KYTE Baby 1.0 TOG Sleep Sack
    • I LOVE this sleep sack- it’s a great lightweight option for your little one.
  • Woolino 4-Season Sleep Bags
    • The Woolino sleep sacks are INCREDIBLE. They’re a bit pricier, but they adjust to temperatures so you only need to buy one for all seasons! 
  • HALO Micro-Fleece Sleepsack 
    • These go up to size XL, which will fit children up to 40 inches tall and 36 pounds. This is great for toddlers, especially if your child is trying to climb over the crib! These are extra helpful if you live in colder climates.

I know how daunting it can be to think about transitioning your baby out of the swaddle, but it’s a natural part of development from newborn to infancy. Babies start to have more meaningful use of their limbs once their startle reflex begins to subside, and this is a great time to transition out of the swaddle. It’s also a good time to start thinking about sleep training– it can be beneficial to put your baby down awake to help them learn to put themselves to sleep. If you’re struggling with where to start, I’m here to help!

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