Swaddling is a technique that many parents rely on during the early stages of their baby’s life. Many believe that it helps with the transition from the warm, protective setting of the womb to the outside world. Science tells us that babies are also born with a Moro or startle reflex that makes babies feel as though they are falling. This happens during sleep and causes a sleeping baby to wake abruptly and rather unhappily. Swaddling eases or completely erases the chance this may happen by keeping the baby’s arms gently restrained at her sides. Swaddling provides comfort and helps settle most babies for their first three to four months of life. It’s about this time that many parents begin to transition out of the swaddle. Here are three ways to know that your baby is ready to move away from sleeping in a swaddle.

Your Baby can Roll Over

One of the most important times to stop swaddling your baby is when she develops the ability to roll over in the swaddle. With her arms pinned to her sides, she will be unable to maneuver herself safely in the cot and may end up sleeping face down. Safe sleeping guidelines do not recommend letting babies sleep face down until they are able to turn themselves back over. Once your baby starts rolling over during play time, assume that she will soon figure out how to roll over in her swaddle. This is a good time to begin the transition out of the swaddle.

Your Baby Breaks out of Her Swaddle

If you use a traditional wrap to swaddle your baby then inevitably, your baby will become stronger than the cloth you use you swaddle her. At this point, the swaddle will no longer be useful and you face the risk of having a loose wrap in the cot with your sleeping baby. Once your baby can successfully remove herself from her swaddle, it may be time to look for other sleep solutions. You may choose to use transitional items that resemble a looser swaddle to help ease your baby’s transition to sleeping on her own.

If you use a swaddle suit then you can extend the time your baby is swaddled as she won’t be able to wriggle out of them. There are a variety of products available to transition out of a swaddle into a sleeping bag.  Note that swaddle suits are only suitable for babies who cannot roll in their cots as they restrain her arms like a traditional swaddle wrap.

You Want to Sleep Train

If you decide to sleep train your baby, you will want to remove her swaddle first. This allows her to have access to her fingers and hands as she will likely use these when learning to self soothe. The decision on if and/or when to sleep train is a very personal one to each family but your baby’s use of a swaddle can be a good marker in deciding when to start sleep training. If your baby still needs her swaddle, it may be best to delay sleep training. If she is making moves away from using a swaddle, this could be a window for helping to teach her to self-settle.

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