4 Month Old Ready to Lose Swaddle?

Updated on November 17, 2010
L.T. asks from Somerville, NJ
5 answers

So my son is 4 1/2 months old and has always been an awful sleeper. We have tried every suggestion in every web site, discussion board, book, and class we could find, with almost no improvement. One of the things we found that helped him get to sleep, and stay asleep longer than 20 minutes, was to swaddle his arms down. However we're at the point where that seems to hurt more than help. He can fight his way out of the tightest wrapping (even things like the SwaddleMe or Sleepsack swaddler). Also he's getting almost too big to wrap properly anyway. Lastly, every time he wakes up a little at night or during a nap, the restriction on his arms seems to annoy or frustrate him and cause him to wake up more. He still wakes up every hour at night so the swaddle isn't helping *that* much.

We're thinking that maybe it's time to lose the swaddle. The problem is that he is still not great at self-soothing. He'll suck on his fingers for a while, but then after a few seconds he startles and the hands come out, and he wakes up. Until this past weekend he wouldn't take a pacifier and still won't consistently, but that may help. It's much more difficult to get him to sleep without wrapping him, and he doesn't stay asleep very long, but at the end of the day it might just be a matter of toughing it out a couple days while he learns to deal with himself.

Having him wake up every hour is awful, and if letting him sleep without wrapping him will help him stay asleep I'm all for it. But having him wake up every 10-20 minutes would be unbearable! Does anyone have any thoughts on whether this would help or advice on the best way to go about it?

(And since every sleep question seems to incite lots of CIO-related answers - we have not done CIO or Ferber and don't plan to, although there are times we let him fuss for a while out of sheer exhaustion.)

ETA: We do use a sleepsack every night. We also tried the Sleepsack Swaddler but he comes right out of it; also they don't make it in bigger sizes. We have studied up on infant sleep and are well versed in it, and have tried every suggestion out there (including a bedtime and naptime routine). At this point we have pretty much made the decision to try dropping the swaddle to see if it helps him become less frustrated at night and allows him to learn to self-soothe better. I'm hoping people can give me some suggestions on how to go about this (ie, try it at night first, or for a nap?). Thanks!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Well we didn't want to rush him off the swaddle before he was ready, but two things: One, he got too big and strong for me to swaddle - he'd fight one arm out while I was holding the other one down - so it almost became impossible to swaddle him unless he was super sedate. And two, I've started finding him 180 degrees from where I put him down, with the blanket all tangled around his waist. So there was a definite safety issue there. Not to mention that he didn't seem to *want* to be swaddled anymore.

So last night my husband played bad guy, and after the bedtime routine, put him down in the crib with a pacifier. He screamed for about 15-20 minutes, with my husband there the whole time trying to calm him (he tried walking him around to no avail), then suddenly calmed down and passed out. He didn't sleep great (woke up every two hours, but two of those times were to eat) but it was *way* better than it's been. This morning I put him down for his first nap with no swaddling and he is actually sleeping through into a second hour! (Normally he wakes up after one hour and is super cranky and wants to go back to sleep)

So it seems, yes it was SO time to lose the swaddle, and the way to do it was just to do it! He was ready! I have so much hope that maybe he will start sleeping better now. Crossing my fingers!!!

More Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

I def thinkhe is too old to swaddle...I think mine only did that for a couple of weeks. Once he can roll over to his stomach he will most likely get a better sleep. At least that was the case with my boys. At 4.5 months he should be able to roll.



answers from Boise on

Have you tried the Miracle Blanket swaddler? My daughter did finally wrestle her way out of this, and we weaned her out of it, it made a huge difference.



answers from Honolulu on

1) You cannot stop a baby from not startling. That is their "startle reflex" and it is just what a baby does. Yes it does wake them. But it will go away when they are older. They cannot control their appendages... yet.

2) try a 'sleep sack.' If you go to Amazon, they have many you can see and read the reviews on it.

3) Not all babies self-soothe yet at this age.

4) Do you feed/nurse him before bed/naps????

5) How is his intake??? Is he feeding well? Are you feeding him on-demand??? Some babies will not sleep either, because they are hungry....

all the best,



answers from Gainesville on

Here are the 3 life-savers for me when I was trying to teach my first how to sleep. And yes, they have to be taught how to sleep. They don't automatically know how.

Dr. Sears Baby Sleep Book, The Baby Whisperer and The No-cry Sleep Solution. They all have invaluable information, tips and tricks. By better understanding infant sleep I was able to put together a sleep routine that my son could learn what to expect and what was expected. I literally did and said the same thing every single nap and nighttime for about 6 weeks and the got it. He was about 6 months old when I started. Once he got it he would sleep for 10-13 hours. But every kid is different. My daughter wasn't the sleeper that her brother was but she was manageable.

He is a bit too young to "deal with himself". He doesn't know what to do and doesn't know how to sleep. Learn as much as you can about infant sleep and then you will be able to better teach him how to sleep.



answers from San Francisco on

Definitely time to lose the swaddle. In fact, my sister's pediatrician told her that she was endangering her daughter's life by continuuing to swaddle and like you, she swaddled for a very long time probably longer than you.

I think she did a 'modified' swaddle at first. She wrapped just from the torso down, leaving her daughter's arms free and gradually, as her baby became more mobile she loosened. Her baby is 14 months now. I will ask where they are with this.

Good luck. I have had three babies and two of them have had their own 'sleep' issues. Certainly not fun. I think the best advice I can give you is to do what 'feels' right for you and your child. You are going to get a lot of opinions about what is the 'right' way to get through the night but I have found that each baby is different and what works for one will not necessarily work for the other. My first ended up co-sleeping with us because every time I put him in his crib,he cried. He slept with us for two years and then when he did not like the new sheets I bought one day, he decided to sleep in his own bed.

My second was always a good sleeper in the crib.

My third, nothing worked for a very long time. Out of pure desperation, I did let her cry only after I knew that picking her up wasn't going to make her any happier. She cried in my arms, refused to nurse, wouldn't lie next to me in bed, did not want to be rocked to sleep by either my husband or myself, etc....

She is now fourteen months and just in the last three months has become a good sleeper. I can put her in her crib awake but noticably tired and she will most of the time turn over and sleep. She rarely sleeps through the whole night though and wakes around four wanting to be snuggled in my bed. Then she sleeps until around 6:30. But this is so much better than before that I now consider her a good sleeper.

So, good luck, you will find your way through this. I think setting a nighttime routine is really important (reading a book, giving a bath, etc...) to start cueing him, especially when he gets older, that it is bedtime.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions