4 Steps to Swaddle Success
If there’s one piece of sleep advice I could give to parents of newborns, it’s this: swaddle.
Okay, I have tons of sleep advice for newborn parents, but swaddling is waaaaay up there on the list! Why? It solves so many hurdles when it comes to newborn sleep.
With all the swaddle goodness, also comes lots of questions. Swaddling is wonderful, but also something we need to be strategic about, and cautious of as they get a bit older. But (obviously) I’ve got that all mapped out for you, step by step.
Why To Swaddle
You’ve probably heard me talk about the Moro Reflex over on Instagram. But if not, it’s that “startle” reflex that newborns have for their first few months. It’s an involuntary reaction to a falling sensation. It’s normal, but unfortunately this reflex can work against you when you’re trying to keep your babe snoozing.
Swaddling keeps your little one’s arms tight(ish) so that their environment feels snug and womb-like. Having a swaddle prevents their little arms from flying and waking them from their slumber. It takes months for a baby to realize they’re no longer attached to their mom, so feeling appropriately snug is calming, and reminiscent of where they came from. This can also be great if your little one is experiencing colic. They’ll be more peaceful knowing they can relax in what feels like their mama’s arms - even when you need to put them down for a bit. Bonus points - it keeps those talon-like newborn nails from scratching their face. Ouch!
When To Swaddle
Swaddling can be done right from the get-go! When your baby is born, enjoy that skin to skin for as long as possible. The Golden Hour is SO important for you and your baby. It’s great to help them regulate their breathing and stress levels (they were just born, afterall!), plus an excellent start for bonding and milk supply.
But when it comes time to keep baby warm or go to sleep, swaddling is a great solution! That snug feeling is nice and homey, and is so beneficial. Finding a swaddle that your little one likes doesn’t have to be complicated! My fave is the Swaddelini because it checks all the boxes that you want in a swaddle. It’s (appropriately) snug fit, but allows the movement their little hips need. It’s designed to keep your sweet escape artist from busting free, so they (and you!) can keep snoozing.
Since consistency is everything when it comes to successful sleep support, I’ll take the time to remind you that it’s also true with swaddles. Use the swaddle for nights and naps, so your newborn recognizes that it’s time to sleep. You’ll reap those swaddle benefits day and night.
When To Drop The Swaddle
They say all good things must come to an end, and that’s definitely true when it comes to swaddling. Great sleep is so important, but safety is always the top priority. Around the 3-4 month mark is when rolling comes into play, and naturally this poses risks for your little one when they’re swaddled. If your babe has started rolling, or is showing signs of making that happen, it’s definitely time to drop the swaddle. Getting stuck on your tummy with no hands available is a scary situation.
Plus, as your baby grows and develops, they like to have more access to their hands, kick their feet more, and move around. When these actions aren’t available to them they can get frustrated (who wouldn’t?), and that definitely doesn’t contribute to the peaceful, cozy environment you want for your little.
How To Drop The Swaddle
You might be thinking, “Okay great, first I swaddle, then I don’t. But how do I stop swaddling without totally disrupting everything my baby knows?” I hear you! And I’ve got 2 simple solutions to help you through it.
Call it a day: If you’re not afraid of going cold turkey, you could simply go from a swaddle to a sleep sack overnight. Some babies aren’t bothered by the difference, and you’ll see the change right away.
Day by day: If a more gradual approach suits your little one’s needs, do it in 3 days intervals. 3 days with 1 arm out, then 3 days with 2 arms out. Done!
So… what’s next?
A sleep sack.
Sleep sacks are the BEST when it comes to keeping your baby cozy, comfortable and, and safe in their crib. They give your babe access to their hands, come in different weights (for different seasons), and help keep your toddler from escaping their crib when they’re older. It’s a win-win-win!
I love the Ry & Pen sleep sacks because they’re Canadian made, come in bamboo and/or merino wool, and are run by the cutest little family that gives part of their profits to charity. All. the. feels.
At this age, there’s lots of new things happening when it comes to sleep, and support can make all the difference! I’m here to make the transition easier, and help guide your family in sleep foundations that set your babe up for sleep-filled nights, even as they grow and learn.
Time to get the sleep you enjoyed pre-baby?
Then let’s make it happen!