When to Stop Swaddling

Close-up shot of three month baby girl swaddled in white blanket laying on a bed. Swaddling is a practice of wrapping infants in cloths in order to prevent limb movement. Medical and psychological effects of swaddling are controversial.

The swaddle can be one of your favorite baby products and miracle workers from your little ones early days, but at some point the swaddle goes from being a useful parenting tool to a danger to your baby. One of the questions I get most often as a Newborn Care Specialist is, “when do I have to stop swaddling?” So in today’s blog we are going to address when you should discontinue the use of the beloved swaddle to keep your little one or ones safe.

When they are rolling over
Once your baby starts rolling over, it’s time to ditch the swaddle. If your baby’s arms are pinned by his or her side and they roll over in their sleep, it can be incredible difficult or even impossible for them to flip back over onto their back. For this reason, swaddling a baby that can roll over poses a huge SIDS risk.

When they are consistently breaking out
If a baby is consistently breaking out of their swaddle, and you’ve tried a few different methods or swaddles, perhaps it’s time to move on. Most babies keep their moro (startle) reflex until 12-16 weeks so keep that in mind before giving up the swaddle without trying other options first.

When they are moving around the crib
If a baby is moving all around the crib it can make the swaddle come loose and leave loose material in the crib. If your baby is swaddled in something very securely, this poses less of a risk, but a risk none the less.

When they are over 4 months
After 4 months of age, hopefully baby’s moro reflex is gone and there is no need to continue on with using a swaddle. Once a baby reaches 4 months, they likely have the ability to roll over posing a SIDS risk.

Now that you know when to stop swaddling your baby, you may be asking, “what’s next?”
If your child is having a difficult time losing the swaddle you can use a transitional swaddle, such as a Zipadee Zip. This provides some confinement to your baby but still gives them the range of mobility they need to roll back over if they flip onto their tummy. If your baby is good to go, you can transition them directly into a sleep sack. A sleep sack is a sleeping bag for babies that keeps loose blankets and materials out of their crib.

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