If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a first-time parent and you’re looking for a definitive answer or the closest thing to "when to stop swaddling baby?"
The rule of thumb is babies should stop being swaddled between three and four months old.
However, the problem when it comes to babies is each and every one is different; it’s not a case of "one advice suits all." Also being so new to everything can be very overwhelming and can make you feel completely out of your depth. But, do you know what the good news is?
It’s the first rodeo for your baby too! As long as they’re comfortable, out of harm’s way and developing as they should, the two of you are going to get through everything perfectly.
Although you should stop swaddling you child between three and four months old, it’s not unusual (or wrong) to see babies that are five, six and even nine months old still wrapped up like those perfect little pupae.
Often a baby will let you know that they don’t want to be swaddled anymore; how they do this varies but believe us, you will know.
Also at this stage, your little one can start using a baby jumper, which will help improve his or her pre-walking skills and other cognitive development after stop swaddling.
However, if you’re just keen to get an idea of when to stop and what signs to look for, we’ve included a few below. Just keep in mind that these are general guidelines and not golden rules.
Is your baby like a little Houdini, breaking from his swaddled prison during the night?
This could be one of two things; the swaddle isn’t doing its job. If your baby is between two and three months old, chances are he's too little to be swaddled. It might be a good idea to try a different one that will keep him tucked up and secure during sleep-time.
According to MedlinePlus, babies aged between two and three months old have a strong startle reflex (or Moro reflex) and swaddling is a startle-soothing necessity.
On the other hand, if he is escaping free from a secure swaddle between four and six months, it could be time to start weaning him off his "snug as a bug" way of sleeping.
As far as development goes, your baby will usually roll from belly to back first. This is because he can use his arms to push himself over.
Next comes rolling from his back to belly, which is usually around the five to six months mark. The important thing to note is that if he has managed to do one, just one, back-to-belly roll-over, he will prefer sleeping on his tummy.
From a safety point of view, a swaddled baby should never lie face down, and for this reason, it is essential to stop swaddling.
If your child has always slept well but starts waking during the night because he’s uncomfortable and trying to get into a different position, it’s time to stop.
Preferably, it will be closer to the six-month mark as babies outgrow the startle reflex. This also means an easier transition to no swaddling at all.
Of course, this is in the perfect world; if baby has different ideas, then you try the transition swaddling blankets.
If anyone could write the ultimate how-to for parenting, they would be rolling in money, and we’d all have a copy. There is no one way to do anything with a baby; it’s usually trial and error, trying out a few things and finally finding one that works for you and your beloved one.
If your child isn’t hugely dependent on being swaddled, and there are those, then it’s going to be a fairly simple change for both of you.
But if he or she has different plans, then hopefully our suggestions to wean them off swaddling will help.
A relatively safe way is to do it gradually. Start off with leaving one arm or leg unswaddled. Then leaving both arms or legs out, until you are at a point where no swaddling is needed at all.
Just as with adults, the idea of weaning, or stopping something gradually works better than going cold turkey.
The idea here is that you go from "snug as a bug" to "loose as a goose" over a seven day period. It helps baby get used to having more wriggle room while still feeling secure enough in a semi-swaddle.
Use a light blanket made of muslin (find it on Amazon) that baby can breathe through; this is so he can breathe through it, in case he manages to get the blanket over his face.
Instead of swaddling, try putting tightly rolled blankets or cushions on both sides.
Your baby will still feel snug and secure, but it will keep him from rolling over and getting stuck, which will mean a harsh wake-up call for you.
One minute baby’s swaddled, next minute he’s not. This method can be the best. It’s a "sink or swim" alternative but it can be traumatic for both of you.
Also, it'll definitely mean an unpleasant time in the home, for at least a week or two.
There are some great transition products (affiliate link) that you can look into, which will help you and your little one break the habit of swaddling.
Some might call it cheating, we call it ingenious.
How do you stop swaddling your baby? If you want to share your experience, post it below, and it would be my pleasure to hear from you.
Amy Duncan is the founder of KindMommy, a blog where she's providing helpful information about pregnancy and many useful tips for young parents. Besides writing, Amy loves to cook and travel with her friends and family. You can also find Amy on Twitter (@AmyKindmommy).