One of the first skills all new parents quickly master is the art of swaddling. We realize the importance of this task as soon as we see how much it comforts and calms our new baby, and how much of a difference it makes on their sleeping habits. We then rely on the swaddle until that sad, sad day when baby starts to seem more bothered by that blanket wrapping then comforted.
Why We Swaddle
Swaddling restrains baby's arms and legs to keep them from flailing about, often uncontrollably until he or she is at least a few weeks to months old. The restrictive nature of swaddling reminds baby of the environment from within the womb. It provides feelings of comfort, security, and peacefulness that allows baby to settle. Swaddled babies are frequently better sleepers than their non-swaddled counterparts.
When to Stop Swaddling
There are a few different instances that can arise when you should stop swaddling. These include:
- when baby begins to protest to being swaddled;
- when baby starts to kick out of the swaddling, thereby creating a potentially unsafe scenario where baby is in the crib with a loose blanket;
- when being swaddled starts to become preventative to baby exploring his or her world.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
The age for weaning off the wrapping varies from baby to baby. Many people think they should stop swaddling after a few weeks, when their baby starts resisting it. But, actually, this is when swaddling becomes the most valuable.
To decide if your infant no longer needs to be wrapped, try this: After she reaches 2 to 3 months of age, swaddle her with one arm out. If she gets fussier, continue wrapping (with both arms in) for a few more weeks. However, if she still sleeps well with one arm out, she probably doesn’t need swaddling any more.
Most babies are ready to be weaned off wrapping by 3 to 4 months of age, although some continue to need the wrapping to help them sleep up to 9 months of age.
Alternatives to Swaddling
After baby moves beyond the swaddling stage, both parents and baby can benefit from a swaddling alternative to assist with continued sleep habits. A sleepsack is a great next step after swaddling and beyond.
Sleepsacks create a cozy sleep environment for a baby that mimics swaddling without any of the risks or negatives encountered when he or she has outgrown the swaddle phase. Check out our sleepsacks here.