Swaddling a baby is something that many parents do as it helps to minimize the impact of the Moro reflex, or startle reflex as it is also known. The startle reflex is something that all babies have, and it causes them to suddenly throw their arms and head out in response to a nearby movement or sound. This can cause them to wake up crying. When a baby is swaddled though, their arms will be by their side, preventing the arms from being extended outwards. Swaddling can also make babies feel safe and secure and improves their sleeping.
Although swaddling a baby can improve sleeping pattern and reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs), it is not something that should be used for too long. In fact, you should not swaddle your baby once they can roll onto their tummy. Babies in a swaddle can roll onto their front but then may not be able to roll back again. This can occur at different times for different babies so there is no set age when swaddling should be stopped. Some babies learn to roll over faster than others. Below are a few signs that you need to ditch the swaddling blanket.
If Your Baby is Waking Up More Often at Night
For some babies, swaddling can help them to sleep better. However, if your baby has started to wake up crying during the night and is not due a feed, it might be that they are uncomfortable in the swaddle. The older a baby gets, the less comfortable the swaddle becomes.
Your Baby Cries When You Put a Swaddle Them
If your baby previously liked to be swaddled but has started crying or resisting when you try to wrap the blanket around them, it may be that they would prefer to have their arms free.
Your Baby Has Started Rolling
At this point, you should definitely stop swaddling your baby at night because if they were unable to roll back onto their back, it could increase the risk of SIDs. Most babies will begin rolling at around three or four months of age, but it can occur in some babies as early as two months, so you need to be alert to this.
How to Get Your Baby Used to Sleeping Without a Swaddle
You can simply stop swaddling your baby and use a sleep sack instead, but some parents prefer to get their baby used to life without the swaddle in stages. You can choose to allow either arms or legs free first before taking the swaddle off completely.
It might be worth experimenting with your baby’s legs out of the swaddle for the first night to see how they manage this. If this goes well, you can take one arm out the next night, followed by both arms the night after. Or you could consider a transitional swaddle. The experts at CozeeCoo (https://www.cozeecoo.com/)say that this is a specially designed sleep swaddle that keeps baby’s arms by their side but allows them to move their legs freely.
Swaddling a baby helps to reduce sudden waking from naps caused by the startle reflex. It is also helpful in making baby feel safe and secure when sleeping in a crib or cot. But swaddling should not be used once a baby starts to roll over, which usually happens at the age of three or four months.
Transitional swaddles can help babies get used to sleeping without a swaddle blanket, or parents can help by leaving either arms or legs free until baby gets used to sleeping free from the swaddle.