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Many parents love the benefits swaddling provides to their newborn. As newborns start wiggling around in their sleep, though, many parents wonder when is the right time to stop swaddling and what they can do to transition away from swaddling.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies may start displaying signs that they’re outgrowing swaddling as young as two months old. In general, these three signs should tell parents that it’s time to stop swaddling:
All babies are born with a startle, or moro reflex. Swaddling helps prevent newborns from flailing their arms and accidentally waking themselves up in the middle of the night. However, most babies outgrow this between two and four months of age. If you notice your baby startling less when they sleep, it may be time to stop swaddling.
As babies grow stronger, they may break out of the swaddle while they sleep. Because loose blankets in a baby’s crib can increase the risk of SIDS, you should stop swaddling your baby if you notice that they can break out of it after you wrap them. As a precaution, you should never leave too many loose blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals in a newborn’s crib as these are all a hazard for suffocation.
Although you should always put your baby to sleep on their back, they will eventually start rolling over in their sleep once they learn how. Swaddles keep your baby’s arms and legs constricted, though, so you should stop swaddling your baby when they start rolling over. Being rolled over while swaddled in a suffocation hazard and since your babies’ arms and legs are restrained in the swaddle, they might not be able to come free or roll themselves back to face up.
Unfortunately, your baby won’t transition straight from swaddling to sleeping through the night. If you want an alternative to soothe your child as you stop swaddling, you can try one of these methods:
Unlike swaddles, sleep sacks or wearable blankets aren’t a hazard during sleep because they fit a little more loosely (although still snug) while still providing the comfort your baby needs. They also don’t restrict your baby’s arm movement as many of these have armholes or removable sleeves. Sleep sacks are a safe alternative to swaddle blankets as your child begins to outgrow swaddles.
Studies show that white noise machines can help babies fall and stay asleep through the night. As your baby loses the comfort that swaddles provide, white noise machines can help them tune out environmental noises and sleep better.
Most babies also find pacifiers very soothing. Furthermore, pacifiers can reduce the risk of SIDS in babies and toddlers. As you transition away from swaddling, providing a pacifier may help your child self-soothe and sleep better throughout the night. Keep in mind though that some babies do get attached to the pacifier, so when it comes time to take it away, they may throw a tantrum.
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