When to Tell It's Time to Stop Swaddling a Baby and How to Transition Them

Updated on June 11, 2009
K.D. asks from Overland Park, KS
8 answers

I have an almost three month old who is generally a great sleeper already. He is a big guy-already 14 pounds and eating great. He has been swaddled with the miracle blanket from day one. He is getting bigger and stronger and has started to get out of the swaddle waking himself up a few times at night. We tried to just let him sleep in a sleep sack one night and he went to bed okay but woke up at about 1:30 and could not get back to sleep as his arms and legs kept moving. My dr said it's fine to swaddle as long as they need it but right now at night it is disrupting his and our sleep. He takes great naps as well being swaddled and I don't want to mess with that. How could I transition him to sleeping without being swaddled (he does use a pacifier and keeps ripping it out when unswaddled) or any ideas on what to use on a bigger guy to help keep him swaddled if that's still what he needs right now. Thanks so much!

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answers from Wichita on

Hi K.,

My son was pretty much the same. Like your son, my son was a big guy too. We just swaddled him until he kept breaking free. Then one day, we just didn't put it around him. It took him 2-3 nights, but he eventually got used to it... and has never looked back.

Good luck!! ls



answers from St. Louis on

My 8 month old is a big guy, too, and he will not sleep unless he is swaddled. He does break out of it, but he needs it to go to sleep.

My husband discovered the "baby straightjacket" (sounds horrible, bit it isn't!). He uses one blanket just to wrap his arms to his sides and the other to swaddle him. My husband lays the first blanket down just as if he was going to swaddle, wraps the blanket around the baby's left arm and under his back, then around the right arm and under his back, pulling the ends to keep his arms tight to his body. Then he uses a second blanket to swaddle as usual.

Our son does come out of it in the middle of the night, but he needs the security to get to sleep in the first place. When he wakes up at night, if he needs help getting back to sleep (crying for about 20 minutes), we swaddle him loosely in only one blanket, and that is enough to help him get back to sleep (for the most part).



answers from Kansas City on

we swaddled our daughter till she was 9 months. She would be fine if she broke out if it in the middle of the night, but would not go to sleep without it on to start with. One thing we did was leave one arm out to get her used to it at first. I dont know if that will help. I've also seen sleep sacks that swaddle the arms, but the legs are just in a regular sack, not confined like a regular swaddle. Good luck!



answers from Kansas City on

Hi Kristen, you have received some great advice but thought I would throw a few more at you :) At 3 months of age my daughter wiggled her way out of being swaddled at night and would wake up crying. We woud put a bink back in her mouth but if she was fussy enough she would spit it out. Because I was going back to work I needed my sleep so we started letting her cry it out. It broke my heart but only took her about 3 nights to figure it out that she could fuss herself back to sleep.
Now with my son, he would fight his way out of being swaddled by one month of age so after exhausting all of our options and being exhausted we tried what everyone tells you not to and laid him on his tummy. We slept so well and still does that we obviously don't swaddle him anymore. I think the comfort of his body being pressed up against the mattress has been soothing for him. I have been so paranoid leaving him on his tummy to sleep but that is what worked best for him and I just remember to check on him often. I also leave the monitor right by my head at night as loud as I can tolerate it. He is 4 1/2 months now and doing great.
Good Luck to you!



answers from Joplin on

Slowly is the best way to transition from swaddling, either simply don't swaddle him as tightly or start by leaving one arm out so he gets used to this sensation. 2 of my 3 little ones enjoyed being swaddled, and usually they just outgrew it on there own as they got bigger and were able to move around more. Even as they get a little bigger I don't like the idea of a blanket in the crib, so if your house is cool you may want to look into some of the all in one blanket sleep sacks, I have seen them made quite roomy enough even for a larger 3 month old...and if that isn't big enough you could always go to regular feety style pjs, babies temp runs warmer than ours so even in a cooler bedroom this should be warm enough. Lots of luck to you.



answers from St. Louis on

Know exactly what you are going through!! My daughter had precisely the same. I swaddled her tight until she was 3 or 4 months old. After that, I used one that is a bit looser and used that for another 2 months or so. Heard that people do it up to 9 months. Won't harm them and ensures quiet nights for you.
Mind you, my daughter had restless nights until she was 13 months. It took a few nights of simply letting her cry (nightmare !!) but it worked. Take my advice: Don't wait with that until he is 13 months !
Make sure that you keep the pacifier when slowly transition from swaddling to sleeping bag. Good luck.



answers from St. Louis on

Hey K.,

We swaddled our son till he was 3 or 4 months. We used those swaddle blankets that use velcro to close which did a great job of keeping him in. When we were ready to transition out we swaddled him with 1 arm out for a couple days then both arms out, which was basically like not being swaddled at all and then nothing. He did great. Hope this helps.




answers from St. Louis on

Kiddopatamus makes a large swaddle blanket. You can buy them at Babies R Us.

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