If you're like most parents, you used a swaddle during the first months of your baby’s new life. Not only does swaddling help put the baby to sleep (and give you a break!), it also sets your baby up for a lifetime of healthy sleep habits and strong development. Swaddling is also a great way to make your baby’s sleep safer, as it protects your little one against their natural startle reflex and it keeps their hands off their face, helping to prevent scratching. Swaddling is also great for calming a colicky baby, and It keeps your little one on their back while sleeping.
Naturally, you can’t swaddle your baby forever, and you will need to understand when it’s the right time for your baby to transition out of the swaddle and sleep sack to other solutions that are more appropriate for the next stage of their life. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you understand when and how to help your baby to transition!
The Right Time to Transition Out of Sleep Sack
The main reason for transitioning out of the swaddle and sleep sack is safety.
While it’s true, as we said before, that swaddling is the safest solution for 1 to 4 months old babies, it actually becomes unsafe once your child learns to roll over. If your child rolls while wearing the swaddle, he or she might end up in an unsafe position and not be able to roll back by themselves.
Children typically begin rolling around four or five months old. Even if you think your child would prefer to sleep in the swaddle longer, you need to put it aside for safety.
You should also stop swaddling once your child is regularly breaking out of the swaddle. At this point the swaddle becomes another piece of fabric in the crib, which isn’t safe, according to the ABCs of safe sleep. If they refuse to stay inside the swaddle, they either don’t like it or prefer to have the freedom.
To conclude, here you can find a chart from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) showing the higher risk of SIDS cases for swaddled babies. (You can read the complete article about the correlation between swaddling and SIDS here).
Swaddling actually becomes unsafe once your child learns to roll over.
The Right Way to Transition Out of a Sleep Sack
Is there a right way to transition a baby out of a sleep sack?
Even if your baby wants out of the sleep sack, the transition can still be jarring. After all, that enclosed type of sleeping is all they know. They might have trouble falling asleep without it. Short answer to the question: there’s no ONE right way. You will need to follow the general rules, but also keep trying, until you find the way that works with your baby.
Here’s also some “inspiration” from other parents for your baby transitioning out of the sleep sack:
Some moms and dads opt for a measured approach. They leave one arm free for a few nights, then both arms free for a few nights with a wrapped lower half. This works for some babies, but others use the new leverage to escape entirely.
Other parents do it cold turkey: it’s tough on some babies for a couple nights until they learn to relax without it. Others adjust right away. How you go about it depends on your child’s temperament.
Still, many babies don’t like the freedom one bit. The exposure makes them anxious and fussy. This usually happens when you’re forced to stop swaddling (due to rolling), but your baby doesn’t want out. Some babies are still in the face-scratching phase, which can wake them up.
Will My Baby’s Sleep Deteriorate After Transitioning Out of Sleep Sack?
Of course as parents we are concerned about safety but also sleep quality for our children. If your little one is still dependent on being swaddled to sleep, it may be tough to stop swaddling or using a sleep sack. If you still have concerns, consult with other moms, or ideally with your pediatrician, and then make your decision.
You can also consider transitioning your baby out of the sleep sack gradually! Similar to the previous example of parents approaching the transition one limb at the time, you might consider “unswaddling” your little one’s arms and legs after the first night-waking, so they get to try this new experience for a shorter period of time compared to a whole night's sleep. Another option is to “unswaddle” the baby only for their naps first, so your child can get used to it for shorter sleeps first.
Whatever method you decide to use, consider that this is a big change for the baby, and it’s perfectly normal if this might affect their sleep quality in the beginning. This is why you will need to take extra efforts to soothe them and make them feel comfortable. Rocking your child during the transition period or playing their favorite soothing music could help, but keep in mind that you’re establishing a new habit for the baby that you will eventually need to break in the future.
Be aware that it might take up to two weeks for the baby to get used to the transition, so be patient and support your baby during this big change!
You will need to take extra efforts to soothe your baby and make them feel comfortable during the transition out of the sleep sack.
Transition Out of Sleep Sack… in Style
We created the Zipadee-Zip to make babies feel safe and calm, even when swaddling has to stop. It’s a fantastic way to help them make the transition from the sleep sack. The Zipadee-Zip is a wearable blanket that gives babies plenty of room to move around, and roll over but still lets them feel their edges. In other words, the product has slight stretch in the arms which organically and comfortably pulls them back into themselves. This cozy resistance reminds them of life back in the womb.
Plus, with an item like the Zipadee-Zip, you can offer that swaddle-like feeling when you’re out-and-about, like in an airplane, in the car, in the stroller, visiting the doctor, or just hanging out at home. It’s the best sleep sack for babies because it was specifically designed for this troubling period of your child’s life.
Written by Stephanie Parker from Sleepingbaby.com, inventors of the Zipadee-Zip
The motto for Sleeping Baby, makers of the Zipadee-Zip, is: "Inspiring Dreams One Night at A time," and that, in a nutshell, is how it all started…with one little dream that has since become the Parker family's reality. When Brett and Stephanie Parker's daughter, Charlotte, was born, the feeling that welled up inside of them was indescribable; they never realized until first looking into those baby blues of hers that they were even capable of that kind of love.
When it was time to transition baby from swaddling, the Parkers tried every sleep sack on the market and every swaddle weaning trick they could find for nearly two weeks and nothing worked to get baby Charlotte to fall and stay asleep.
Stephanie became determined to restore sleep and sanity to their household and set out to find a solution that would soothe Charlotte's startle reflex and provide her the cozy womb-like environment she loved so much but still give her the freedom to roll over and wiggle around in her crib safely. Out of sheer desperation and exhaustion, the Zipadee-Zip was born. The first Zipadee-Zip(R) Stephanie put together on her little sewing machine worked like magic!
To date tens of thousands of Zipadee-Zips have been sold and all from word-of-mouth marketing. It is so rewarding for the Parkers to see other parents and babies getting the sleep they both need and deserve!
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