I loved swaddling my little baby, although there came a point where swaddling was not an option anymore. There a few different reasons for not wanting to swaddle any longer:
Baby fights being swaddled
Baby manages to remove their arms from the swaddle
They are able to roll independently.
They no longer have the ‘startle reflex’
Unfortunately there will come a moment in every baby’s life where the no longer want to be swaddled or ‘should’ be swaddled. As a parent, it can be daunting because you know you’re baby sleeps well when they are swaddled, and this is unknown territory. Usually by 2-3 months you will start notice these signs, but some babies are still swaddled up until they are independently rolling, even if they are fighting being swaddled. But worry not, I will be going through a transition which is gradual to help you transition your baby from swaddle to sleep bag gently. Like with anything new, it can take babies time to adjust, so be patient and remember that every baby is different. Step ONE - Swaddle with One free arm As suggested in the title of Step ONE - when swaddling your baby, only swaddle her with one arm in for 2-3 nights. Doing this for naps first can be helpful, as you can monitor how she sleeps. It’s often ‘liked’ better if the dominant arm (if there is one) is kept free.
Step TWO - Swaddle with both arms free Once your baby is used to sleeping with one arm free, or the startle reflex is no longer present, you can do the next 2-3 nights without swaddling either arm. Your baby could take to this within a few days, and for some it could take a week. Every baby is different and if they wake in the night, find something they can use independently to help them resettle back to sleep. Step THREE - Assess Your baby will likely let you know if they can settle easily or not with their arms out of a swaddle. Trying it during a nap will let you see how your baby responds. If your baby is waking up multiple times in the night or is just unable to sleep at all then trying to transition them may just not be the right time yet. And that’s OK!! GO back to swaddling for another week or two and then try again. There is no hard and fast rule that unless its a safety one. Remember - you’re changing the way your baby sleeps, so the first few nights might take your baby longer to fall asleep, and thats NORMAL. This should change after a few days of getting used to not having their arms tucked in the swaddle. Step FOUR - Transtition Now you’re happy your baby is sleeping with both arms free, it’s time to find a wearable blanket or sleep bag that you can put your baby into for all sleeps. Be sure to try it out for a few days before deciding if it’s worked or not.
Making the transition can be hard, there may a few restless nights, but as with any change, it takes time for your baby to get used to. So persist for at least 2-3 days at each step before deciding if it's time or not. Check out our ONE to ONE coaching packages if you're looking for help getting your family more sleep.