How do you lose the swaddle without losing sleep? We’re sharing our four-step process for helping your baby learn to sleep without being swaddled. Read on to see how!
When I was pregnant with my first, I signed up for just about every class I could take to prepare myself for being entrusted with a super-tiny human. I picked up a copy of Dr. Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block and watched the video of him taking a screaming infant, swaddling him, and rocking him just so, and I thought I was going to be all set.
My little girl arrived, and I started practicing the swaddle on her – it was magic. Even with colic, she started sleeping 6 hour stretches at about a month (I know – I don’t know how I got so lucky; I’m sorry!). When the blanket swaddle wasn’t strong enough to keep her from getting her arms lose, we switched to a Halo Sleep Sack. Life was good.
Then came the 6 month appointment, and our pediatrician gently shared that it was time to lose the swaddle. I was terrified. Our daughter was a terrible napper, and the only solace I had was that she was an awesome nighttime sleeper. So, with trepidation, we went for it. And while it was tough, we made it through.
One of our readers is in a similar situation with her second child – he has started rolling over and she is concerned about the safety of swaddling him for bedtime. He’s struggling to stay asleep when he’s not swaddled, and she needs some tips to get her little guy to get back to his normal sleep schedule. Here is what worked for us with the swaddle transition; give it a try, and hopefully you and your baby will be sleeping soundly again soon!
How to Lose the Swaddle Without Losing Sleep
- Start with a modified swaddle. The first week or so of “swaddle-free” was not cold turkey. We took the “wings” of the sleep suit and wrapped it around our baby’s core with her arms free. The result was that she still felt the close hug provided by the swaddle but had the freedom to move her arms if she did happen to roll.
- Add a second layer of clothing. What I always loved about the swaddle was that it kept my baby warm without her getting overheated. Once we lost the swaddle, I added a pair of socks and a t-shirt under her sleeper so she had another layer of clothing to keep her warm. To this day (she’s now almost 7), I make sure she wears warmer pajamas than I do because she kicks off all the blankets while she sleeps and wakes up when she gets cold.
- Invest in a Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit. In a similar vein of thought to the ideas above, give a Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit a try. It gives the extra warmth and weight provided by the swaddle but your baby’s arms and legs have free movement. If you have a baby who seems to have sensory sensitivity, the extra weight will likely make a big difference in helping him to settle down and stay asleep.
- Consider the other environmental factors. With the transition from the swaddle, it’s possible that environmental factors that previously didn’t bother your baby now have an impact. If there is a bright streetlight outside the nursery that shines through the window, look into room-darkening shades. Do you have a neighbor who revs up his motorcycle to head to work in the middle of the night? Pick up a white-noise machine to drown out the loud noises outside.
For many babies, the transition from sleeping swaddled to not only takes a week or two. For some, it certainly takes longer. With these tips, I hope that soon, you’ll get back into your sleeping rhythm so you and your baby can both get more shut-eye!