Breaking the Swaddle

Updated on March 09, 2012
J.B. asks from Marietta, GA
12 answers

My little guy is almost four months and we still swaddle him, and I'm talking full body swaddle. We started swaddling him again around two months because he wouldn't sleep more than two hours at night without waking up, and nap time was a nightmare, sleeping only 30 minutes and then waking up. I decided to attempt swaddling again and he loved it, nap time is a breeze now and he sleeps for 6-7 hours straight at night.

He is slowing growing out of his full body swaddle sack. The velcro closures barely close at this point and I don't want the sack to be too tight for him. Also, he gets rather warm in the sack and with spring and summer approaching, I don't want him to get overheated.

I'm sure it's odd that he is still swaddled at four months, but this has worked for him. My question is, how do I go about slowly breaking him out of the swaddle. Any moms out there that swaddled into the later months, and what worked for them. I don't want to do this drastically since he has been used to being swaddled for a while, but I would like to start something with him soon, so that he can be swaddle free before it gets too warm and he is completely outgrown of his swaddle sack.

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for all the great advice. I am glad to know that we are not the only parents to still swaddle into the later months. I think we will just stick with swaddling until he lets us know that he is ready to "break free". It seems to keep him comfortable and is very soothing and it definitely helps him sleep better, so why stop something that seems to be working. I do think I might try and use a large blanket once he outgrows his sack, that way he can break out of it if he wants.

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answers from Phoenix on

My youngest was swaddled. He was this way until he was almost 9 months. I just used regular blankets. I never used the swaddle sacks or blankets. He was born in the summer in AZ so it was pretty hot too. If he is comfy with it then I wouldnt stop it. He will let you know when to stop the swaddling

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answers from Seattle on

I always wonder why some parents are so eager to break the swaddle or change other routines, just because they think it's time... my philosophy has always been: if it ain't broken, don't fix it!
My DD never took to the swaddle, but one of my nieces was swaddled through her entire first year in ever increasing blankets and finally a flat sheet when the blankets were to small... it was how she wanted to sleep. She still want to be tucked in tight - she is 14 now, a bright kid, good student, athletic... the extended swaddling didn't hurt her a bit and let my sis get some sleep.

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answers from Dallas on

With my son, I swaddled him with one arm out for a week. Then, both arms out for the next week. Then, he was done! You'll have to see how your baby does, he might need longer then a week at a time. A week seemed to be the magic number for mine.

It's not strange that your son is still swaddled. I have known people who swaddled their children much longer. Our pediatrician did say it's best to break the swaddle by 4-5 months, because it can harm the growth of hip joints, and a few other reasons. I think you are right on track.

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answers from Seattle on


Just bring it in and put it in the crib. Frees up arms and legs, but only so much, and the body is still held.



answers from Washington DC on

we are going through this now with our 5 month old. She can and does get her arms out of the swaddle by herself. The reason we are trying to break her of it is because she now rolls over whenever we put her on her back (and she does it even in her swaddle). Her pediatrician said that this is okay since she can roll herself, but we can't have her swaddled because she needs her arms to lift herself up. So we are back to 30 minute naps and being up every two hours. Last night I was so tired at 3 AM that I swaddled her up and put her in the pack and play next to my bed. Like your guy, she seems to need that feeling to sleep, but I think developmentally she is needing to break it. I hope you find a solution. BTW- my niece was swaddled until 6 months. My SIL said that around that time she just realized that she needed to move more and eliminated it and she did fine.



answers from Denver on

Hi J. - If it is comforting for him, then I dont think it's a big deal at all. He may always appreciate the comfort that comes from a blanket or from being very warm to go to sleep. You might check out some of the videos online for "Happiest Baby on the Block" - they are big on swaddling. We progressed from full body to pulling out just one arm. Babies have certain natural reflexes that they grow out of that can alarm them. As you progress away from swaddling, try to re-create the environment and things he likes best about it.



answers from Dallas on

We swaddled our son until he was around 8 months- he is the best sleeper and I wouldn't have done it any other way. To wean him out of the swaddle we moved him to a sleep sack- worked wonderfully! Good luck!



answers from St. Louis on

Honestly, I didn't break my son till he started effectively breaking the swaddle and turning on his side in the middle of the night. This was around 5 months I believe. I started loosely swaddling him with a blanket. Then I switched him to a sleep sack and then I eventually got rid of that. He had a sleep sack for about a month till I got rid of it. I wouldn't do anything if he's sleeping happy. When he starts breaking out of it and rolling over, then you could stop. I would probably suggest to start swaddling him with a large swaddle blanket instead of the swaddle sack at least. I had to get one made (it was like 1 yd X 1 yd). I could never use those little ones you buy at like Target cause they were too small. Just read your baby :)


answers from Austin on

You can now lay him on his tummy with his head up against the bumpers of the crib.. See if he sleeps better that way.



answers from Spartanburg on

I can't remember exactly when we stopped swaddling our now 5 year old twins but we did it for a very long time. I had the swaddle sacks but eventually bought two Miracle Blankets in the natural cotton fabric. Best investment ever! If it was warm in the house, I would swaddle them in just their diapers. Eventually one of my boys would wiggle out of the Miracle Blanket every night (we called him Little Houdini LOL!). Then we used the sleep sacks which leaves their arms free.

Both of my boys are very sound sleepers to this day. I'd do whatever it took to encourage them to sleep. For their sanity and mine! Like another poster, I've strapped them into their car seats. My Little Houdini would occasionally get swaddled AND strapped in the car seat to prevent an escape attempt. We'd joke that he was our hostage at the insane asylum. (Which was basically true for our house with twin newborns!)

My advice... listen to your baby. If he's swaddled and sleeping through the night, he's doing just fine. If he was hot or uncomfortable, he'd wake up in the swaddle. If you think he's ready, try it without it. If he wakes up all night, he's not ready. Make sense? And if he's getting too big for his swaddle, you could even cut up an old twin sheet and swaddle him (I've done it!).

Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

We swaddled both our kids, my daughter was almost 7 months before we stopped swaddling her. She was slim and didn't outgrow the blanket until then. My son, on the other hand, outgrew his swaddle blanket at about 3 months. I see the difference in how they sleep now as they are getting older; my daughter sleeps deep and can sleep through anything. My son is a very light sleeper and is much more sensitive to noise. Both just outgrew the blanket, it got to be so that the blanket didn't wrap as snug and the looser it was the easier they got out of it while they slept. The swaddle blanket you described did not work for up, the velcro would wake them. We used the miracle blanket, and it is :) good luck with continued swaddling and eventually un-swaddling.



answers from Los Angeles on

I let the child decide & show you when he/she is ready to be rid of the

My son was 5 1/2 months (I would buy bigger & larger swaddle blankets).
He was finally ready at 5 1/2 months.
I listened to his all-knowing-self & changed him from the cradle (as he would knock his hands against the sides since it was smaller & wake himself up) to his crib w/no swaddle at that time.

You'll know if he/she constantly squirms to be free AND sleeps better that way.
Go w/your instinct and with what you see w/your baby!
Best of luck! :)

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