At what age should I stop swaddling my baby? It is the only way she will fall asleep and stay asleep.
That is a great question Victoria and it can be a tricky one because I recommend that people swaddle newborns. I think its a great tool.
It’s a great strategy
Newborns tend to like to be confined fairly tightly as they fall asleep. It is very reminiscent of being in the womb. With newborns it is a great strategy but if you dont ease your way out of swaddling, you can find four, five or even eight months down the road youre still trying to swaddle a fairly big active baby. It just would not work.
They will kick free and probably start crying because they are not swaddled anymore. You will have to go in and re-swaddle. Some are sewing together four of their feeding blankets so it is big enough to swaddle their babies. What has happened then is that swaddling becomes the sleep crutch. It is the only way the baby feels confident that he can get himself to a sleep and so anywhere between eight and 12 weeks, it is a good idea to start steering away from swaddling.
Gradual fade out…
Even if you just do not swaddle for naps or at bedtime you stop swaddling gradually. It does not have to be all or nothing. It can be a fairly gradual extinction. Start by just leaving one arm out for a couple of weeks and then leave both arms out for a couple. Gradually just move the swaddle all the way down. If you have got a baby who is more into the four or five months old range who you are still swaddling, then it really is best to just drop the swaddle cold turkey. They are so used to being in the swaddle now that if you leave one arm out they are going to protest even that change and you might as well just drop it altogether. Teach them a new way to fall asleep that does not involve being tightly wound. You can get started on the path of breaking the connection with swaddling and helping your child learn a new strategy that is independent of the swaddle.