Reader Email: How do we give up swaddling?

Email_3Reader Joshua S. writes today:

I do have a question though that was not in the book, unless I missed it.  We have been swaddling our two month old son with one of those halo swaddles – the one that you put the baby in, zip it up, then there are wings that swaddle around the baby.  The baby sleeps really well in this.  We are trying to not swaddle him, but, it’s not working (at all).  People say that I will know when he does not like to be swaddled anymore when he busts out of the swaddle.  The problem is that this swaddle zips and velcroes. It is impossible to bust out of.  Do you have any suggestions as to how to transition our son out of the swaddle and to sleep without it.  Obviously, he will grow out of the swaddle at some point, but I wanted to start doing the transition now.   If I unzip it, he constantly moves and then cries.  When I put him to sleep in the swaddle, he initially moves a lot in the swaddle, kicking his legs, and moving his hands (inside the swaddle).  Any suggestions are appreciated.  Thank you.

Happy to help. This is your homework assignment, due in the
next four weeks: get rid of it. Two reasons: 1. you want him to develop
sleep associations that you want to live with for a long time–so any sleep
crutches should be out of his world by three or four months of life. 2. if
he isn’t moving around at night, the back of his head will become pretty
flat. So, while it is okay to continue it for a few more weeks, the
swaddler’s days are numbered. Your son will be older in a few weeks and more
capable of soothing himself with fewer immature newborn reflexes.

The take home message: I would suggest quitting, cold turkey, by 3 months of age. Most
babies like to move around at that point and have fewer of those
newborn startle reflexes that wake them up when they move around. Your
goal is to have the sleep habits you want to keep by 4 months, so
transitioning to that goal is the plan. That will also help reduce the
dreaded flat spot on the back of the head (plagiocephaly) that babies
get when they are constantly sleeping in one position.

slg

We relied heavily on the swaddle too. I recommend for...

slg said on :

We relied heavily on the swaddle too. I recommend for transitioning you move to swaddling blankets – that’s what people refer to when saying he’ll squirm out. Also, around 2-3 months we started swaddling with arms out. Good luck!

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tooney

I totally disagree. Our son is now seven months old...

tooney said on :

I totally disagree. Our son is now seven months old and we still swaddle him some nights when he is all worked up and thrashes his arms around. We do a farily loose swaddle and he busts out of it in pretty short order, but it’s enough to calm him down enough to get him to sleep.
We asked our pediatrician about this, and he said not to worry — he said some kids need it more than others, and he swaddled his own baby until nine months. I think this is definitely one of those cases in which it depends on the baby, not the age-by-which-they-should-be-doing [fill in the blank]. And if it helps you all get some sleep, all the better.

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tooney

tooney said on :

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JM

We swaddles until 6 months or a little more with the...

JM said on :

We swaddles until 6 months or a little more with the miracle blanket. The transition went Very smoothly and our daughter has been a great sleeper since. Don’t fret. Everything is a phase and each baby is different.

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EC

We swaddled our daughter with the Miracle Blanket for...

EC said on :

We swaddled our daughter with the Miracle Blanket for her first several months; basically until she pretty much outgrew the Miracle Blanket (she’s very long). We then followed Dr. Karp’s advice in the book “Happiest Baby On The Block” & began to leave one arm out, then both, then no swaddle at all.
We love Dr. Karp & recommend his book to everyone, his advice worked, straight down the line.

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SO

We had a similar issue. Our little one wouldn't sleep...

SO said on :

We had a similar issue. Our little one wouldn’t sleep well without the swaddle, but by the time she was 3.5 months, she outgrew her swaddle. It was tough at first, but I started with naps. I moved her from the swaddle to a sleep sack since it was winter and our house is really cold. She slept in a sleep sack until she was 7 or 8 months old.

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baby carriers backpacks

We swaddled until 7th month.. I think it really depends...

baby carriers backpacks said on :

We swaddled until 7th month.. I think it really depends on the baby.. every baby is different.. just swaddle when needed..

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Stephanie

I dissagree with having to stop swaddling. When baby...

Stephanie said on :

I dissagree with having to stop swaddling. When baby is ready to stop swaddling he/she will let you know. We swaddled my son with a swaddle me velcro blanket until he was 9 months old. He absolutly would not sleep without it so we continued to do it. He is almost one and we still swaddle his lower body with his arms free as it gets cold and he kicks the blankets of. At about 9 months he started to resist it and about then we knew he did not want his arms swaddled anymore. My point is that it helped him sleep so I say as long as you feel comfortable doing it go for it.

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aimee

I understand the desire to continue swaddling to get...

aimee said on :

I understand the desire to continue swaddling to get as much sleep as possible but it’s missing the point of the response to the question.
The point is that your goal shouldn’t be to do whatever it takes to get your baby to sleep. You should be doing what it takes to help them be self reliant by becoming effective self soothers.
I agree with the author that it’s better to do away with any crutches by 3 or 4 months and have found it to be a successful strategy with our own children.

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