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When to stop swaddling your baby

Swaddling can play a fundamental role in the journey towards better sleep. Once you’ve mastered why, when, and how to swaddle your newborn baby you may be enjoying the consistency swaddling brings. However, as is so often the case, just when you get accustomed to one stage, it’s time for the next. When to stop swaddling is an important step to understand in a baby’s sleep progression. Many parents find this transition a little confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.

From developmental signs to look out for, to the reasons you should stop swaddling your baby after a certain age, find out everything you need to know below. 

At what age should you stop swaddling?

As a general rule, when to stop swaddling your baby is as soon as they start to show signs of rolling over. On average, children will begin to display these signs between 2 to 6 months old. It’s important to note that for some babies this can happen as early as 8 weeks old, while for other babies, it happens later.

If a baby rolls over during sleep while still swaddled it could pose a safety hazard by restricting baby’s movement or breathing. If you’re using a traditional muslin swaddle that requires wrapping, it has the potential to come loose, which may also pose a suffocation hazard to a mobile baby.


What are the signs to stop swaddling?

If your baby is showing one or more of these signs, then it’s time to transition to “arms-free”. Babies will generally begin to show these signs between 2 - 6 months of age. You should always consult your GP about your baby’s motor development if you’re unsure. Here are some signs to look out for to indicate it’s time to stop swaddling your baby for sleep:

  • Starting to roll over during playtime
  • Using hands to push up during tummy time
  • Decreased or no startle reflex
  • Lifting their legs and flopping them to the side
  • Ability to escape out of a traditional swaddle
  • Resisting being swaddled traditionally

Why should you stop swaddling your baby?

The number one reason you need to transition your baby from swaddling is for their safety. If your baby rolls over onto their tummy while being swaddled, they may find it difficult to roll back over onto their back. Not only can this be uncomfortable and distressing for your baby, but there are serious risks involved too, including possible restriction of their breathing.

Swaddling babies after this stage can also impact age-appropriate motor skill development. When you notice your baby showing signs of starting to roll, you should begin to transition from swaddling to “arms-free” sleep.


How do you transition out of swaddling?

Transitioning out of a swaddle is a subject we at Love To Dream know well. Our Ready to Roll collection is specifically designed for this purpose, and to make the journey towards independent sleep as smooth as possible. With the same cosy feel of a swaddle, our award-winning Transition Suits and Bags have wings that can be unzipped to enable you to comfortably and gradually introduce your child to arms-free sleep.   

Follow the 5 steps below to help transition your baby out of their swaddle:

1. The one arm out method

With our bestselling Swaddle Up™ Transition Bags, you can unzip one arm at a time to ease your child into a new sleep routine. If your routine is to swaddle your baby before sleep or a nap, simply swap this step for putting your baby into a Transition Bag and unzip one arm to start to introduce arms-free sleep, maintaining a similar feeling of comfort.

2. Both arms out of the swaddle

Once your baby has settled into a new rhythm, you can unzip the second arm of the transition suit to enable even more freedom of movement. It may take a couple of nights for your child to adapt to this new way of sleeping.  

3. The legs out method

If your baby is ready for more movement, the Swaddle Up™ Transition Suit is the perfect next step. With a hip-healthy design, your child will be able to sleep with their legs free to move. 

Designed to last for years to come, the five-in-one solution can also be used for play and travel with a twin zipper for easy nappy changes.

4. Removing the swaddle

Once your child is used to sleeping with their arms and legs free, it’s time to adopt a swaddle-free sleep routine and move into using a sleep bag as an alternative.

5. Alternating swaddling and sleeping freely

You can choose to alternate between using an arms-free swaddle and sleeping freely. Once your child has reached stage three of their development, you can look to our On The Move range for support. 

A safer way to keep your little one warm during the night, our Swaddle Up™ Transition Bags and Suits replace the need for blankets. Refer to our temperature guide to find the right style depending on the season.  

How do you get your baby to sleep without being swaddled?

When you find something that works for your baby, like a swaddle, it can be hard to embrace change. Here are some expert tips on how to transition from a swaddle to a new way of sleeping:

1. Use Transition Bags and Suits

Our Transition Bags and Suits are designed to help your child learn to sleep more independently. The zipped wings allow you to remove one arm at a time, helping your child to adapt to more freedom of movement without losing the comfort of being swaddled. 

Designed to be used all year round, our suits come in a range of fabric grades for the different seasons with four sizes to choose from: small (3.5-6kg), medium (6-8.5kg), large (8.5-11kg), and extra-large (11-14kg). 

2. Establishing a routine

Regardless of whether your baby is being swaddled or not, creating a safe sleep routine is essential during times of adjustment. This will look different to every household, from bedtime stories to using white noise.

  • Try to reduce the amount of light in the room an hour before bedtime.
  • If possible, carve out an hour before bed to settle your little one. This might be a bath, reading a book, a baby massage, or singing a lullaby. 

3. White noise

Some parents and caregivers like to use white noise to settle their baby during times of transition. If this is something you’d like to try, place the sound machine at least two metres away from your child’s cot or bassinet, don’t let the sound level exceed 50 decibels, and always keep out of reach. 

 Common swaddle transitioning FAQs from parents

When the time has come to stop swaddling, it’s common for parents to have many questions. Explore more information on swaddle transitioning in the FAQs below.

How many nights does it take to transition out of a swaddle? 

Every child is different. It can take as little as 2-3 nights for your baby to become familiar with the adjustment. We recommend slowly introducing change over time. Start with one arm out for 2-3 nights, if your baby seems comfortable then try the second arm out for another 2-3 nights. Adjust this time frame to suit your baby.

Can I still swaddle my six-month-old?

Importantly, when to unswaddle your baby is indicated by your child’s development stage, rather than a specific age. You must not swaddle your baby once they have shown signs of rolling over or pulling themselves up onto their hands. This usually occurs between the ages of 2 to 6 months old, sometimes earlier. 

Is it OK to stop swaddling at 6 weeks?

Swaddling your baby is a personal choice. If you decide not to, make sure to follow the below measures for a safe sleep routine:

  • The Lullaby Trust recommends that your child sleeps in the same room as you for the first six to 12 months to prevent the risk of SIDS.
  • Never co-sleep with your child. Use a bassinet or cot until your baby exceeds the weight or age limit. 
  • Always ensure your baby sleeps on their back with the face uncovered. 
  • Ensure your baby’s mattress is firm, clean, and flat.
  • Remove any toys, loose objects, or blankets from the baby’s crib/bassinet before sleep.
  • Look out for signs of overheating such as flushed skin or rapid breathing, if you see these signs make sure your baby is not too hot.

At Love To Dream, we know that every child is different, and we’re committed to helping you to find the right solution for your family. With you at every step, Love To Dream™ believes today’s little dreamers are the shapers of tomorrow. For further advice from our experts, visit our Sleep Library.