When to Stop Swaddling and Introduce a Sleep Bag or Sack

It's happening. Your little one is growing up right in front of your eyes. Wasn't it just yesterday the nurse handed you your perfectly wrapped bundled of joy? Now your little burrito baby is showing off some impressive arm stretches and power kicks – all signs that the swaddle may be cramping her style.

Swaddling starts in the hospital and often continues through the first three months of a baby’s life. Around this age, most swaddling parents begin to wonder how they will know when it is the right time to stop swaddling, altogether. It can be a daunting question, especially for moms and dads who have come to rely on the benefits of this time-honored soothing method. Babies who are swaddled have been proven to sleep longer and cry less than babies who are not swaddled. In addition to keeping your little one warm and toasty in those early months of life, swaddling also keeps your baby from being disturbed by her own startle reflex.

So, how will you know when the right time is to wean from the swaddle? We have the answers you are looking for as well as some tips for smooth sailing during this transition.  

It’s time to say goodbye to swaddling if…

…your baby is breaking free. You will want to avoid any scenario where loose blankets are in the crib. If your baby is able to free himself from a swaddle wrap, it is time to stop swaddling altogether. An improperly wrapped swaddle is a SIDS risk, and for the safety of your child, you will need to stop immediately.

…your baby is rolling over. Medical professionals advise that a swaddled baby should never sleep face down, and once your little one starts to roll, you can’t guarantee that he won’t end up on his stomach. For safety reasons, rolling from side to side is an important sign to watch for as swaddled babies sleeping on their stomach are at risk for SIDS.  

…your baby isn’t soothed. If your once sound sleeper is now waking up frequently through the night, then the swaddle has perhaps lost its magic. You will know this is the case if your baby appears restless, and unable to get comfortable. He may cry out and appear frustrated that he does not have the ability to stretch and kick.

…you’re considering sleep training. Many parents introduce some form of sleep training around 3 months of age. If you plan to begin sleep training, then you will want to consider weaning from the swaddle. Sleep training helps babies learn to self-soothe, and your little one needs to be unswaddled in order to get the hang of this.

Transitioning to a Sleep Sack

After you have determined that your baby has outgrown swaddling, you are probably wondering, “What’s next?”

We recommend using a sleep sack or a baby sleeping bag to make transitioning from the swaddle easier. Your baby will remain comfortable and secure, with more freedom to move.

If you are looking for one to try, we recommend Woolino’s 4 Season Merino Wool Sleeping Bag. They are designed so that you need only one, regardless of the season, and regardless of your baby’s age. They use merino wool which is super breathable and will keep your baby warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. This type of temperature regulation means that your baby will sleep comfortably throughout the night, and that means a better night’s sleep for moms and dads, too! They are available in a universal size that will fit your baby from 2 months to 2 years. The super-cozy consistency will allow your baby to always associate the comfort of their sleep bag with a good night’s sleep.

In the end, please know that while there is a lot of advice out there, you know your baby the best, and the decision to stop swaddling is ultimately yours. For any additional questions or concerns, please contact your pediatrician who can give further advice or instruction on this topic.