Swaddling has been done for generations and is an effective means of soothing a crying baby, especially in the early months. The act of swaddling can make babies feel warm and content because it duplicates the feeling of safety that they experienced in utero.
Should You Stop Swaddling Your Baby
When newborns are swaddled, they tend to sleep for longer periods without awakening or arousing. However, it’s important that your baby learns how to self-soothe and falls asleep on their own.
1. Start Slowly
Many pediatricians recommend weaning swaddled babies at around four months of age, with some going as far as six months. You can begin by leaving one arm out of the swaddle. Loosening the swaddle during naps is another way to get your baby used to being less confined.
Some babies don’t mind sleeping without being swaddled, but others will fuss more often. Gradual exposure to the sensation of being unswaddled should help a baby transition from regular swaddling to sleeping with arms free. This will make the change easier since the baby has been slowly introduced to sleeping with one or both arms out of the swaddle.
Remember that everything is new for your baby. That means that it’s constantly surrounded by sensations that they’re not used to. It is the parent’s job to help your baby get over their fears of new things, and that’s why introducing changes slowly is important.
2. Encourage Your Baby to Roll Over
Swaddling a baby for too long can affect his motor development. Once he starts rolling over, it’s best to stop swaddling entirely. This could be as early as three months!
If you want your infant to continue getting benefits from being swaddled, use a sleep sack. They attach to your baby’s body and don’t restrict their movement, which is ideal if they’re still swaddled or partially swaddled at night. Sometimes, encouraging your baby to rollover is the best way to wean them off swaddling. They tend to like to do this when they are on their stomachs exploring their environment.
You can do this by gently patting their backs or placing them on their stomachs. Many will not need encouragement to start rolling over, but others may need your assistance in order to get used to it.
3. When You Should Stop Swaddling
There are several signs that your baby is ready to be swaddled less often, if at all. These include being able to keep arms down for a prolonged period of time, rolling over both ways (front to back and vice versa), breaking out of a loose swaddle, and breaking out of the ‘arms up’ swaddle.
By this time he should be able to calm himself by sucking on fingers or hands or just calming down after crying. If your baby is still not showing any signs that he’s ready to wean off from being swaddled, then it may be time to teach some soothing techniques that don’t involve swaddling. This way you can provide your child with the feeling of safety while still allowing him to develop his motor skills.
The reason why it’s important to stop swaddling when your baby starts rolling over is that your baby needs to learn to become comfortable sleeping without being swaddled. Having coping strategies when they wake up is important to help them transition through different stages in their lives.
4. Soothing Techniques to Try at Different Ages
It’s important to note that babies are different, which means the techniques you choose may not always work for them. It’s best to try each method and see what works best for your baby.
Some of the more popular techniques to teach your baby to self-soothe and get back to sleep after waking up include rocking them, holding them, singing to them, white noise machines, pacifiers, and even letting them cry. When you let a baby cry, it’s important that you make sure they’re not crying because they need something like a diaper change, or because they are hungry. At first, you may need to hold them and see if they’ll fall back asleep on their own. Gradually decrease the attention they receive when they cry.
If a baby learns that they can get what they want if they cry loudly enough, then they may develop bad sleep habits and will be more difficult to put back to sleep. You can’t always avoid this, but you can try to reduce it by using techniques that encourage your baby to self-soothe.
There are many ways to wean your baby off from swaddling, depending on what method works best for you and your child. Swaddling is an important technique in the early months because it helps babies feel safe and secure while sleeping. It’s important to note that every child is different, so some babies won’t need much encouragement to start sleeping without being swaddled, but you should use signs that indicate they’re ready.
Most importantly, you should always pay attention to your child and don’t force them into sleeping without their blanket if they’re not ready for it.