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How do I transition my baby from a swaddle?

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

In the newborn phase, babies crave the familiarity and comfort of the womb. Swaddling helps to recreate that closeness as your baby adapts to sleeping independently in their crib or bassinet. However, as your baby grows and develops, it's important to transition them away from a swaddle and into hands free sleep. In this post, we'll take a look at the signs that your baby is ready to transition from a swaddle and strategies on how to make it easier on them and you.

baby not sleeping in swaddle
Transitioning your baby from a swaddle can feel overwhelming.

What are the signs that my baby needs to transition from a swaddle?

One of the most important signs that your baby is ready to transition from a swaddle is when they show signs of starting to roll over. A baby who is swaddled and rolls over may get themselves into a position that obstructs their breathing, increasing the risk of SIDS. Because the transition to rolling can happen quite quickly (and sometimes really early – I’ve known babies who have rolled at 2 weeks!), aim to have your baby out of their swaddle by two months. Other signs your baby is ready to transition include:

Breaking free from the swaddle

If your baby is consistently breaking free from the swaddle, it's a sign that they are ready for more freedom of movement in their sleep.

Showing signs of restlessness

If your baby is showing signs of restlessness, such as waking frequently or fussing during sleep, it may be time to transition them out of the swaddle.

Outgrowing the swaddle

If your baby has outgrown the swaddle in terms of size, it's time to make the transition.

This seems overwhelming…how can I help my baby sleep without a swaddle?

Transitioning your baby from a swaddle can be a challenging process, but there are strategies that can make it easier on both you and your baby. Things to try include:

Transitional sleep sacks

A sleep sack is a type of wearable blanket that provides a safe, secure sleep environment without the risk of a swaddle. These can be a great transition tool, as they provide a similar level of comfort to a swaddle while still allowing your baby to move freely.

Gradual transition

You can start the transition process by first leaving one arm out of the swaddle, then both arms, and finally, nothing at all. Try this for 3 nights each, until your baby is fully transitioned.

Bottom-of-the-crib placement

The startle reflex is a common issue for babies who are transitioning from a swaddle. Placing your baby's feet at the bottom of the crib can help to reduce the impact of this reflex and make the transition easier.

Focus on bedtime first

The transition process can be easier if you focus on bedtime first, when your baby’s sleep pressure may be highest, and you have the most energy!

Time to adapt and a period of extra soothing are normal!

It's important to remember that your baby will adjust to sleeping without a swaddle, but it may require patience and a period of additional soothing at nighttime. This can be a difficult time for parents, but it's essential to remain patient and consistent as your baby learns to sleep without a swaddle.

Transitioning your baby from a swaddle is an important step in their development, but it can be challenging. By understanding the signs that your baby is ready to transition and following strategies that can make the process easier, you can help your baby sleep safely and comfortably. With patience and persistence, you'll be able to help your baby make a smooth transition to a new sleep environment.

Having trouble navigating the transition? Click here for your free 15 minute consult and we would be more than happy to assist you.


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