One question a lot of parents ask is when to stop swaddling their baby.
Swaddling is a useful practice for calming newborns as they transition to life outside the womb. Wrapping them securely helps them relax through the startle reflex and mimics the womb environment, which can help them sleep better and for longer periods of time.
But, as useful as swaddling is, you can’t do it to your baby forever. Swaddling is absolutely safe and recommended for newborns when done correctly. However, as they develop and become more mobile, swaddling can become dangerous if your baby is not transitioned out of it at the appropriate time.
Until when can you swaddle a baby
The majority of paediatricians, as well as the chair of the task force for the American Academy of Paediatrics safe sleep recommendations, urge that parents stop swaddling their kids at 2 months.
According to Dr. Kimberly Edwards, paediatrician at Austin Regional Clinic in the United States, this is because babies begin to roll on purpose at 4 months, and doctors want to ensure that swaddling ceases well before the baby may turn onto their stomach and be in danger.
For parents who are concerned about their baby’s sleeping habits, she says,
“Babies are going to start self-soothing at this age. The startle reflex will start decreasing.”
You can keep your baby in their swaddle with one or both arms out once they’re 8 weeks old, but it’s vital to watch for signs to stop swaddling entirely.
Watch out for these 5 signs to stop swaddling.
5 Signs to stop swaddling
How would you know if your baby has reached the phase where she shouldn’t be swaddled anymore? Experts advise parents to watch out for these signs:
1. Startle reflex begins to fade
One of the most important reasons for swaddling babies is to help them comfort themselves through the Moro, or startle response. This response is present in all babies, although it normally begins to decrease between the ages of 2 and 4 months. If you see your baby “startling” less, it’s usually a sign that the time to stop swaddling is approaching.
2. Baby begins to wake up more frequently during the night
If your baby seems to be waking up more than normal, especially if they’re fussing or unhappy without needing to be fed, it could be because they’re becoming uncomfortable in the swaddle. They could be attempting to break free or pull an arm out, waking themselves up in the process.
3. Baby wriggles free from the swaddle
If your baby can twist an arm out or completely unwrap the swaddle while sleeping, swaddling is no longer safe since it creates loose fabric in the crib, increasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
4. The baby starts to show signs of rolling over
Should I stop swaddling when baby rolls to the side?
If your baby is working on rolling skills, it’s time to make the switch to prevent your baby from turning onto their stomach while sleeping and not being able to roll back.
5. The baby begins to resist being swaddled
Some resistance to swaddling is typical, especially when you first try it on your newborn. However, if they start fighting the swaddle as infants become older, it’s an indication that they’re ready to sleep arms free.
If you see your newborn resisting being swaddled, this is one of the signs to stop swaddling.
The dangers of continuing to swaddle
There has been significant discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of swaddling. It is ultimately up to you and your family to decide whether to swaddle your newborn or not.
Ignoring your baby’s attempts to roll over can be risky if you continue to swaddle them. If your infant is irritable and moves a lot, he or she may overheat while swaddled. Overheating symptoms include:
- Damp hair
- Flushed cheeks
- Heat rash
- Rapid breathing
You should reassess your baby’s sleeping situation after two months. Do not swaddle your infant anymore if someone is watching them for you or if they are moving around. Swaddling can be dangerous for newborns at any age if done poorly.
As a result, several childcare facilities refuse to swaddle babies. Some specialists believe that swaddling babies after the age of two months is risky.
Another concern of extended swaddling is an increase in the risk of SIDS. It is also possible that your kid will overheat if he or she is inappropriately suited for bed.
Swaddling blankets that are excessively tight can impede breathing and cause hip problems. If the swaddle blanket is excessively loose, the blanket may unravel and suffocate your infant. These hazards can be reduced by using safe swaddling techniques.
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Should I swaddle my newborn at night?
It’s natural to be concerned that your baby won’t sleep as well without her swaddle. But don’t worry! Even if your baby has a difficult time adjusting at first, she will eventually get used to it.
Remember that you still have a variety of methods at your disposal for assisting your child to sleep. A peaceful bedtime ritual with a consistent structure, such as a bath, feeding, rocking, and a ballad or tale, will help your baby rest and, ideally, fall asleep.
A relaxing environment can be created by dimming the lights, speaking gently, and playing white noise. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of touch: infant massage can calm a cranky baby and put her in the mood to sleep.
Even if you can’t use a swaddle blanket anymore, you might be able to bridge the gap using a swaddle-sleep-sack hybrid. You may also try a standard sleep sack — essentially, a wearable blanket that, depending on the model, your child may be able to use long into toddlerhood though you may need to size up as she gets bigger.
Other ways to soothe your baby
It is typical for babies to wake up during the night. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, newborns do not have normal sleep cycles until they are 6 months old. Even at that age, late-night awakenings are still regarded as normal.
Here are some techniques to put your baby to sleep once you’ve stopped swaddling him or her:
- Use a pacifier
- Stay calm and create a quiet relaxing atmosphere before bedtime.
- Maintain a consistent sleep routine.
- Use a white noise machine to drown out any sounds that may jolt the infant awake.
- Maintain the right room temperature (not too cold and not too warm).
Swaddling is an excellent newborn sleep method. However, after your baby is about 2 months old and attempting to roll or kick free of her swaddle blanket, it’s time to move on. Here’s to the next wonderful stage of parenting!