How to Unswaddle 4 Month Old

Updated on July 25, 2010
H.S. asks from Manchester, CT
15 answers

My son is four months old. For about six weeks now, he has been taking his naps completely unswaddled, with arms out, just in his sleepsack. For the past few nights, we have been trying to unswaddle him at night as well. He falls asleep fine, initially, but wakes up around midnight and thinks it's time to play. I tried everything--rocking him to sleep, bouncing him, walking around with him, singing to him--but he just didn't understand it was time to go back to sleep after his feeding. I gave in and swaddled him and he went right to sleep.

What do I do?

Editing to add: We are trying to unswaddle him because he is starting to show signs of rolling back to front now and we're afraid he might flip over onto his face with his arms pinned to his sides (which would be a disaster). He breaks out of all the swaddle blankets we have anyway--SwaddleMe, Miracle Blanket, regular swaddling blankets, etc. For all this time we've been pretty much using the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle which is great...except that now he's too long for it. :(

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So What Happened?

Since he was doing so well during the day with arms out, we started with one arm out at night, and after a few days, both arms out. He sleeps just fine unswaddled every night now! It's a good thing too; it was only a couple days after his first solid night of no-swaddle sleeping that he rolled over from back to tummy.

Featured Answers



answers from Dallas on

Why do you want to him to sleep without a swaddle? I swaddled my daughter until she got out if it on her own. We used the swaddling sleep sacks.

As long as he is comfy and sleeping, don't mess with a good thing.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

maybe swaddle him looser and looser each night? or unswaddle him once he has already fallen asleep (if he can sleep through that.)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I really don't understand your problem. Why can't he continue to sleep all nice and cozy being swaddled? You are creating a problem where there isn't one. Just swaddle him and put him to bed and be thankful there is a way that he loves to sleep!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

I would continue to swaddle him at night if it is what helps him to sleep. can't expect a 4 month old to sleep through the night!!! At least MOST babies at that age do not sleep through the night. Are you breast or bottle feeding? If you are breast feeding it is not unusual for a baby to want to suckle every 2 - 4 hours. (I am not sure if you are wanting him to sleep through the night or simply go back to sleep after his mid-night feeding).When you go in to change him and feed him in the night I would do it as quietly as possible, don't talk to him keep the lights low, don't let him think you are there to play, maybe this will help him be more willing to fall back to sleep.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

You swaddle him. If he's sleeping well that way why would you want to mess with that? I know that as a new mom it is easy to get the idea that you have to do or stop doing certain things by certain ages, but you should do what works best for you and your baby. He is telling you that he isn't ready to sleep without being swaddled right now. Listen to him, and get yourself some sleep. You can try to unswaddle again some other time. Rest assured your son won't still need to be wrapped up when he's in kindergarten, just go with it for now.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Give him time, he will figure it out.......just keep doing what you are doing at nap time, and maybe give him a little more room......make sure at night he's full and ready for bed........if he wakes up, try not to make a big deal about it, just bounce him by patting him and do it until he falls asleep. You can also hold him in your arms, and swing your waist back and forth, like rocking only standing up.........they can't focus their eyes and they fall back to sleep pretty quickly...............

Good luck and hang in there......

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

WHY DO YOU H A V E TO UNSWADDLE HIM. My daughter, 27mo_ still sleeps w/ her swaddle blankets. We have three that got used regularly and they have a how to tag on them that is soft that makes her feel good. She was swaddled till she was bout 10mo. It just meant that it was time for sleep even if she pulled out of them in five min. We would give her a bottle before bed and rock her in the glider in her room and she would be swaddled for that. Then right to bed while awake. She liked the blanket b/c I wouldn't give her one unless she was swaddled. she walked @ 7mo and was still swaddled w/o her arms in. He's still at risk for sids and if I had a baby right now I would try hard to keep them swaddled as long as possible, keep a binky in their mouth, and have a fan in the room. (that was the latest advise I've heard about preventing sids.) my dd wouldn't take a binky, and believe me I tried. Most moms have the problem of their peds telling them to keep swaddling but baby will have none of that. Count yourself lucky that you don't have that problem and keep swaddling baby will let you know when he's outgrown it. You won't b swaddling when he's in kindergarten I promiss.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

ok I unstand why you dont want to swaddle. alot of people think its ok to swaddle for a yr because it helps baby sleep. but you are right. once they start to show signs of rolling over swaddling needs to stop. also overheating is one of the main causes of SIDS, my son was born in august and we only swaddled him for two week because of the heat. try swaddling him under his arms, if he is still breaking free he is kicking himself loose, which could lead to him kicking the blanket over his head. I let my son sleep in our room in his infant seat for a couple weeks to get him use to not being swaddled (its cozier than a huge crib.) then graduated him to his crib once he started sleeping through the night like that



answers from Boston on

That's great that he sleeps swaddled, but for the purposes of not hindering his body development at this age I highly recommend The Woombie (just google it). Our girl loved it! They have larger sizes too, even for toddlers, not just newborns. It was worth the small investment, I recommend it to all parents now. :)


answers from Boston on

Just brainstorming here, since most of the early posts didn't have the info from your edit. If you swaddle just his bottom half, more tightly than maybe the sleep sack, can he turn himself over with his arms free?

Otherwise, if he needs his legs free (maybe in the sleep sack but not tight), can you give him some feeling of tightness by wrapping something around his waist or chest, like a short scarf or part of an ace bandage (stretchy but snug)? Don't use ace bandage clips obviously - they are sharp if they dislodge - but something safer, like a safety pin tucked into the layers and not exposed. Maybe it would help you shift his sleep sack a little lower on his body (you said he's too long for it anyway)? It's temporary anyway - you're trying to ease him out of this anyway.

My only concern is the heat if he's wearing too much clothing. It's been awfully hot in CT for the past 3 weeks, but perhaps you have air conditioning.

Good luck.



answers from Providence on

I had the same problem with my 3rd child. I found out that the sleep sack comes in larger sizes upto XL. So I started there then I found it was easier to break her when the room was warm she was just too hot to be in it and after a while fell asleep without it b/c being in it wasn't comfy anymore. So if you have A/C or a fan going turn it down not enough to make her miserable from the heat but enough so she is better in a onsie then the sack. Good Luck



answers from Boston on

I second the recommendation for the Woombie. It's a single layer of thin stretchy cotton, so with just a diaper and the Woombie, overheating isn't an issue. Also, the baby can move his/her arms inside the Woombie --it's stretchy enough to accommodate this--but s/he can't get out. So if your little one manages to roll over while in it, he could potentially maneuver his arms under his torso enough to lift his head, get upset and cry out to you. Of course, you have to feel comfortable with whatever decision you make. Best of luck.



answers from Boston on

hi there--

so i had a similar situation with a different "problem". my daughter refused to sleep in her crib when she was born-- she just didn't like to be horizontal (not due to reflux, just a preference). so we swaddled her and put her in her bouncer seat without the vibration, and she was small enough that we buckled her in through one leg hole. and she would sleep 6-7 hours at night. but she was getting too big for that around 4.5 months, and we wanted to transition her to the crib. we got a Baby Delight Deluxe Snuggle Nest and placed it in the crib, so that she wouldn't be in a huge space. and then at bedtime, i would do the typical routine (bath, bottle, swaddle, bouncing on an exercise ball and singing until extremely drowsy), and then i would place her in the snuggle nest in the crib. the first night she woke up about 3 hours later and i simply placed her back in her seat for the duration of the night. the next night, she went 5 hours in the crib and then i placed her in the seat until morning. the third night, she slept through. she no longer needed to sleep in the chair.

my long point is, maybe put him to bed unswaddled, and then when he wakes up, go in quietly and in the dark (without fanfare, walking, singing) swaddle him and maybe he'll go to sleep for the duration of the night. maybe after a few nights like this, he'll get used to sleeping unswaddled. it's an adjustment for him, so give it some time.

just a thought-- good luck!


answers from Albuquerque on

Hi H.,
what is your reason for wanting to quit? Sounds like it works :)



answers from Boston on

My sons never took to the swaddling from the beginning because they were too rambunctious and always tried to kick out of it. I suggest you continue to let him fall asleep unswaddled. He's definitely old enough now to fall asleep on his own without all of the blankets. Try the cry it out method both for putting him to sleep and again when he wakes up at night. After he's done with the feeding, let him cry in his bed. He'll learn self soothing techniques. At first, it's difficult because you'll have to listen to the crying. Very soon, you'll notice that he's able to fall back to sleep on his own without a problem...Good luck!

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