Swaddle on, Swaddle off: Why to swaddle and when to stop

February 13, 2019

 

Swaddling works wonders for getting babies to sleep longer and more soundly. Which is probably why the baby wrapping technique has been around for centuries—as far back as 4000 B.C.!—and is practiced in cultures around the world. Here are just a few reasons why swaddling is a good choice for babies (and their parents!) from day one, plus how to know when it’s the right time to move on.

 

The upsides:

 

Reduces sudden wake-ups:

Since that snug feeling take babies back to the womb, swaddling helps soothe and lull them to sleep. By keeping arms and legs tucked in, swaddling also prevents wake-ups from the startle reflex, also known as Moro Reflex, which can happen when babies experience sudden changes in sound, light or even touch.

 

Keeps baby safe and warm:

Loose blankets aren’t recommended for infants, for safety reasons, so the swaddle is the safest way to keep your baby cozy. It also prevents babies from rolling over, so they stay sleeping on their backs, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Never place a swaddled baby on their stomach!

 

Helps babies keep their hands to themselves:

You know those scratches that pop up on your baby’s face seemingly out of nowhere? Even after you made effort to clip those tiny nails? When your baby is in their swaddle, they can’t accidentally nick themselves in their sleep.

 

Alas, all good things must come to an end. As babies get older, swaddling may not be safe or comfortable for them anymore.

 

When to say so long:

 

When baby learns to roll:

For safety reasons, if your baby has started rolling while they’re in the swaddle, this is a sure sign to stop or transition out of swaddling.

 

When comfort has fled the crib:

If, all of a sudden, your baby who has slept well swaddled suddenly starts waking up a lot during the night and seems uncomfortable, it may be time to rethink the swaddle. Some babies prefer more freedom of movement for their legs and arms.

 

When baby breaks free often:

If you’re having to go back and adjust the swaddle often, start the weaning process by wrapping your baby with one arm out. If that works well  for a few nights, you can stop swaddling completely. But if middle-of-the-night waking crops back up, restart swaddling and try the one-armed wrap again in a month.

 

So, enjoy that swaddled-up, burrito baby while you can! The good news about the transition to swaddle-free sleep is that it means your baby will be learning to self-soothe on their own—the key to independent, all-night sleep.


Need a little extra coaching on how to wind down the swaddle? Nod can help.

 

 

 

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