Swaddling is often a great method of keeping a newborn baby comforted and settled when they’re sleeping, but it eventually outlives its usefulness.
But quite often, babies develop an attachment to the swaddle and frequently wake up when they inevitably kick their way out of it in the night.
Today, I’ve got a step-by-step strategy for you to gently wean your baby off the swaddle and learn to fall asleep, and stay asleep, without needing to be wrapped up.
Swaddling a newborn baby can be a really helpful tool. A lot of newborn babies find comfort in being tightly wrapped. It reminds them of the experience of being in the womb when they didn’t have a whole lot of space to move around. So I definitely encourage people in the newborn phase to try the swaddle.
Now, there are babies out there who do not like it, so you don’t have to force the issue. Try a few times in a few different scenarios. And if it’s helpful, great. And if it’s not, that’s okay too.
I just want to caution you, though, today that sometimes the swaddle can become what we call a sleep prop. So my advice around the swaddle is to use it for the first 10 weeks or so. And at the 10-week mark, now you start to sort of gently move away from it by leaving one arm out maybe a nap or two or at bedtime for a week. Then you leave both arms out here and there throughout the day or at bedtime for another week. You just go waist down for a week. And then by the end of the third week, you’re completely out of the swaddle.
My advice is to move to a sleep sack instead. The Zipadee-Zip sleep sack is a great one. Also the Bitta Kidda sleep sack is another favorite of mine.
Now, what can happen though, and if you’re listening thinking oops, 10 weeks has come and gone a long time ago, you might have a prop problem on your hands. And that’s the scenario where a baby thinks he needs to sleep tightly wrapped up. But he’s inevitably going to kick free of that, at some point no matter how tight you wrap him, they still figure out a way to kick free, feel a little uncomfortable being so free and loose, and most likely cry for you to come back and swaddle him up again.
So then you find yourself five times a night going back into your baby’s room just to swaddle him back up. Then you’ve got a problem. So how do you get yourself out of that? Well, there’s no easy way. Now that it’s become a prop dependency, we just really have to get rid of it cold turkey. There won’t be any way to slowly wean away or gradually get rid of this, because anything less than what he’s used to is gonna cause him upset.
So let’s just get rid of it. Starting tonight at bedtime, no more swaddle. Again, moving into a sleep sack of some kind can ease the transition a little bit. But you need to prepare yourself that there’s gonna be a few days here there’s a learning curve that has to happen. He’s got to get used to the fact that, hmm, what do I do with myself if I’m not tightly wrapped up? And there may be some protest, and there may be some broken sleep happening in those first few nights. And you can do any strategy you like to deal with that.
If you want to do the Sleep Sense Program with the stay-in-the-room method, or you want to do a leave-and-check style, the good news is that it should really only take, you know, four to five nights for the child to get used to this newfound freedom and start sleeping well and through the night.
Thanks for watching today. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!