I was (and still am) the swaddle pro of our entire family. When someone has a new baby around here, they turn to me for advice on how to wrap up their new bundle of joy just like the hospital nurses do. Ever since I read Happiest Baby on the Block, I have been a devout “swaddler” of newborns. My kids loved being wrapped up tight like little burritos, and as weird as it may seem it’s been proven through research that swaddling makes babies feel comfortable and safe. It’s my number one tip for helping your newborn chill out. Sadly, this swaddling phase of life does not last forever and when it comes to an end a lot of parents are left thinking, “Well, what now?” and hoping they won’t be giving up too much sleep. Luckily, there are some ways to ease out of this phase and into a swaddle transition.
The first parenthood struggle about this subject will probably be about how to know your baby is ready to stop being swaddled. There is not set in stone answer obviously, but there are some typical signs that it’s time. At some point, your baby just will not stay swaddled through naptime or at night. This means they have become strong enough to escape their comfy warm burrito. They may also begin to fight being wrapped into a swaddle in the first place and especially want their arms to be free. The clearest indicator that it’s time to stop swaddling is when they begin to roll over. It’s obviously dangerous for your baby to sleep on their belly in a swaddle and if they can get in that position themselves then it’s no longer safe to have them wrapped up.
Once you have made the decision to stop swaddling, you should know there is going to be a bit of a transition period. Especially if your baby was a big fan of being all wrapped up, they might not quite know what to do with themselves. Just be patient, it will all get easier once you have a new routine.
Understanding the Moro Reflex
You probably have seen babies fling their arms up in the air with clenched fists while bringing their knees close to their chest. This funny little move is the Moro reflex. It is often referred to as the startle reflex and is your baby’s attempt to protect itself from any danger. The What to Expect books do a great job of explaining what the Moro reflex is really all about and how swaddling helps babies feel secure which keeps them asleep.
While it’s incredible that humans are born with this reflex, it can be a real pain when trying to lock down a sleep routine. Understanding this reflex is an important part of knowing if your baby still needs to be swaddled or if they can move on to a new phase.
How to do the Swaddle Transition – 4 Easy Steps
1. Loosen up.
No, not your overall attitude (although I could definitely use this tip, personally) This step will help you to determine if your baby is ready to stop being swaddled. Loosen your swaddle up a bit from how you usually secure it. This will help the transition from being held in so tightly. If they escape from this loose swaddle, it will also be a clear sign it’s time to move forward.
2. Swaddle leaving one arm free.
Your baby probably has one dominant arm and it’s best to choose this as the arm to be free. For this step and the next one, there are some awesome swaddle blanket options to make it a little easier.
3. Swaddle with both arms free.
When attempting this step, it is important to check again if your baby is really ready to transition out of swaddling. If they’re still showing signs of the Moro-reflex or they aren’t sleeping well, it might be too early still.
4. Wearable blankets!
These little contraptions are a lifesaver going through this transition. They were not popular when my oldest kids were babies, but are now super popular and something every mom should have. They will comfort your baby without the restriction of swaddling.
Best Swaddle Blankets for Swaddle Transition
As with all baby products, make sure to read the safety guidelines for each of these items before trying them out.
After some time, sadly your baby won’t be so much of a baby at all! As they become toddlers, they will grow out of needing any type of sleep comfort like this but don’t worry the next stage of “fun” begins! Let’s talk about climbing into mom and dad’s bed….WOOHOO!
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