When Do You Stop Swaddling Babies? Your Questions Answered
This crucial question poses a challenge for many parents – how do you know when to stop swaddling your baby?
Swaddling is a useful method for calming infants as they adjust to life outside the womb. By securely wrapping them up with a swaddle blanket or wrap, you are calming them by simulating the womb environment, which can help them sleep more soundly and for longer periods of time.
However, the unfortunate truth is that as much as swaddling is great and highly effective, it can’t last forever. There will come a point where your baby is simply too old to be swaddled and doing so might actually do more damage than good.
Why stop swaddling?
Swaddling has become increasingly popular amongst parents all over the world. But there have also been questions and debates around this age-old custom. Some physicians advise parents to cease swaddling their babies at 2 to 3 months out of concern that they may start rolling over soon. This is because swaddling a baby when they are beginning to roll over may be incredibly dangerous – a swaddle keeps a baby’s arms wrapped up, which results in them being unable to raise their faces to breathe if they roll onto their stomachs because they lack free hands.
However, not all infants begin that early. According to research, newborns usually start rolling between the ages of 3 and 6 months. In addition to rolling over, it's important to keep in mind that some newborns dislike being swaddled and may get restless more quickly than others.
Therefore, because every baby is uniquely different, it is important to carefully observe and consider additional cues besides age that a baby is ready to stop being swaddled. Here are 3 tell-tale signs to look out for that may indicate that it is time to stop swaddling your baby:
1. Outgrowing the startle response
Babies frequently startle themselves out of sleep. Swaddling is popularised as a method of soothing babies through the startle response. Simply put, this is an involuntary reaction that typically occurs when your baby is startled by a loud noise or sudden movement in their surroundings. This response is present at birth in all babies, but typically starts to wane between the ages of 3 to 6 months.
So, if you notice that your baby is no longer exhibiting this startle reaction, it may be time to stop swaddling them!
2. Breaking out of the swaddle frequently
Is your infant becoming strong enough to get free of the swaddle?
It is no longer safe to swaddle your baby if you notice that they can move an arm out or entirely unwrap the swaddle while they sleep. The issue here is that every time they push or kick away the blanket, this leaves loose fabric in the crib. Loose fabric poses as a suffocation or strangulation hazard and increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Of course, it is worth noting that if your baby is only a couple of weeks old and breaking free from the swaddle, it is likely that you need to brush up on your swaddling technique (check out our guide on how to swaddle a baby). However, if they are older and breaking out of the swaddle frequently, it is a sign that you can stop swaddling.
3. Resisting or fighting
It is completely normal to see that your baby is attempting to fight you when you have just started to swaddle them. As they become used to being wrapped up snuggly, you can expect your baby to resist or fight back– this is no cause for concern.
However, there comes a time when your baby simply starts fighting you full-on when you attempt to swaddle them. If this is the case and they’re a little older, it could mean that they desire to sleep more freely and do not wish to be swaddled.
Swaddling can be a game-changer for quality sleep in young babies (and parents!), but there comes a time when swaddling needs to be stopped. Hopefully, you have had all your questions on when to stop swaddling babies answered in this article. Remember, no two babies are the same. So, instead of focusing solely on age-related milestones, it is important that you pay close attention to your little one and look out for additional cues, such as the ones we have mentioned above.
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