As a new parent, swaddling is your secret weapon against fussiness. It’s a way to help put your baby down for a nap or for bedtime, getting them to sleep faster - and keeping them asleep longer.
But, how long do you swaddle a baby for? Whether you’re here because you want to learn how long to swaddle newborns during the day or how long to swaddle a baby at night - or even when to stop swaddling a baby altogether - you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll answer all these questions and many others you may have. We’ll even give you some tips for phasing your baby out of the swaddling stages when the time comes. First, we want to explain why it matters how long you should swaddle a baby.
Why Does it Matter How Long to Swaddle a Baby?
You want to make sure you’re doing everything right to take care of your newborn baby. You’re reading books and articles, you’re asking your parents along with other moms and dads for advice, and you probably even have your pediatrician on speed dial. Your precious little bundle of joy is all that matters at this point - and that’s why you need to be aware of how long to swaddle a baby.
The reason this is so important is that at a certain point, swaddling your baby can become dangerous. The last thing you want is to experience the tragedy of SIDS - which can happen when babies are swaddled past a certain developmental stage.
Think about it like this: swaddling your little one keeps them warm and cozy, bundled up in a tight wrap. They won’t be able to move - which is why swaddling is such an effective technique for getting infants into better sleep habits. They can’t startle themselves awake.
But, this is also where the danger lies. If your newborn has developed the strength to roll over on their own, they’re at risk of suffocating by rolling over on their stomachs without the ability to lift their head up. We don’t say this to scare you - because swaddling is a perfectly safe practice when done by the book. We just want you to be aware of what’s at stake.
And, it’s not just a safety issue. Keeping your baby swaddled too long prevents them from being able to develop key motor skills. You don’t want to slow them down in their physical development.
So with that said, how long do you swaddle a baby for? At what point should you say goodbye to your bamboo swaddle blanket? Let’s see what experts suggest below…
So, How Long Do You Swaddle a Baby For?
In this section, we’re going to answer three questions new parents ask us all the time about swaddling:
- How long do you swaddle newborns during the day?
- How long do you swaddle a baby at night?
- How do you know when to stop swaddling a baby altogether?
Let’s start by assessing the proper protocol for naptime swaddling…
How Long to Swaddle Newborn During the Day
Ah, naptime - our favorite time of day as new parents. This is an opportunity to enjoy some much-needed peace and quiet. You’re able to get some work done around the house. Or, maybe you use this opportunity to catch up on some sleep yourself! Either way, swaddling your little one is going to be a key tactic you use to get them relaxed and put down for a nap.
While every baby is different, most newborns can be swaddled for as long as 12-20 hours during the day. This recommendation comes straight from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It gives them enough time without their swaddle to move around and start developing motor skills and strength.
How Long to Swaddle a Baby at Night
Now, how long to swaddle a baby at night comes with a different recommendation. The reason why is that you aren’t on standby to monitor your baby or hear their cries should they roll over on their own. And if you’re asking this question, you’re probably more interested in how long to swaddle a baby at night before weaning them off the practice.
Again - your child will have their own unique timeline for this. However, this can be as early as 2 months into life to as long as 4 months. It’s generally around this time that a child is able to roll over on their own. That’s a two-month range - how can you tell when your baby is ready to stop swaddling?
How Do I Know When to Stop Swaddling a Baby Altogether?
In general, experts suggest stopping the swaddling practice before your baby is even capable of rolling over on their own. The reason why is that all it takes is for them to roll over once while swaddled in their crib to suffocate. Around this age, babies have also gained enough strength to kick on their own - and could accidentally kick the blanket over their face.
So - the best time when to stop swaddling a baby altogether is once they start showing signs that they are trying to roll over on their own. What do these signs look like, though? There are actually quite a few indicators that the end of the swaddle is near…
- They’re able to break through the swaddle on their own - or even attempt to free themselves.
- Their startle reflex disappears. The swaddle is no longer necessary at this point as preventing the startle reflex from waking them up is the whole point of the swaddle in the first place!
- They start hitting certain developmental milestones - like reaching, grasping, and sitting up.
- They show signs of irritability or discomfort in the swaddle. When you try to swaddle them, they resist.
Any of these are signs that you should stop swaddling them. But how do you go about this without taking a step back in their sleep routine? We’ll give you some advice below.
Tips for Getting Out of the Swaddling Phase
Now that you know when to stop swaddling a baby, how do you actually go about it? It’s not always easy. You may end up wishing you could go back in time to when getting them to stop fussing or getting them to sleep was easier.
However, we encourage you to appreciate each and every stage of your child’s development - because they grow up way too fast. And to help you navigate this step with confidence and grace, here are a few tips:
- Take it slow: Transitioning your baby out of swaddling can be a gradual process. Start by leaving one arm or both arms out of the swaddle, and then gradually move to a wearable blanket.
- Create a soothing sleep environment: As you transition your baby out of swaddling, it's important to make sure they still feel secure and comfortable. Make sure their sleep environment is quiet, dark, and cool, and use a white noise machine if necessary. Get them some comfy, cozy zipper footie pajamas or some of the other amazing bamboo pajamas we have at Caden Lane. We also have soft crib sheets, and you can spoil them with a personalized baby blanket as well.
- Use a wearable blanket: A wearable blanket, also known as a bamboo sleep sack, can be a great alternative to swaddling. It allows your baby to move freely while still feeling snuggled and secure.
- Provide plenty of tummy time: Tummy time is important for your baby's development, and it can also help them get used to sleeping without a swaddle. Start with short periods of tummy time and gradually increase the time as your baby gets stronger.
- Offer comfort and reassurance: As you transition your baby out of swaddling, they may be a little fussy or restless. Offer comfort and reassurance by patting their back, singing a lullaby, or simply being there with them.
- Be patient: Remember that transitioning your baby out of swaddling is a process, and it may take some time for your baby to get used to sleeping without a swaddle. Be patient and consistent, and soon your baby will be sleeping soundly without a swaddle.
Final Thoughts on How Long to Swaddle a Baby
Hopefully, this article gave you some clarity on how long to swaddle a baby. While your baby swaddle wrap is going to be your best friend early on, the time will come to say goodbye within the first 4 months of your child’s life. This can be hard - but it’s a necessary step in childhood development. So - enjoy it while it lasts! With a personalized swaddle from Caden Lane, you can look back on these early moments with great fondness.
And, you can count on us for all the other newborn accessories you need as well - like custom baby clothes, your baby’s coming home outfit, baby milestone blankets, and a whole lot more. We’re here to empower you along your parenthood journey with in-depth resources and all things baby essentials in our online storefront!
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