By Maggie Moore
Swaddling is one of the primary sleep tools I recommend to all parents of newborns. Babies should be swaddled for all sleep, whether at bedtime or naptime. This technique helps babies feel secure by emulating the feeling of coziness they felt in the womb. Additionally, it helps with the startle reflex that is inherent to all babies and can cause them to startle themselves awake.
My inbox is flooded daily with messages from parents who are concerned about what will happen with their little one’s sleep once they outgrow, or start to fight the swaddle?
Let’s discuss the gentlest, most effective way to transition a baby out of the swaddle. Keep in mind that every transition is a totally new experience for the baby and needs to be smooth and non-traumatic. Transitioning out of the swaddle is a big step for your little one. We are going to change something in the environment of their sleep, and because sleep is one of the most impactful activities for a baby’s health and wellness, we need to pay extra attention.
Signs That Your Baby Is Ready For Transitioning Out of Swaddle
- Has your baby turned into a little Houdini? No matter how tight the swaddle is, your baby keeps busting out? If this sounds like for your little one it is time to transition away from the swaddle. A baby is capable of understanding when it’s time to transition out of the swaddle and will always “escape” from it if they feel it’s the right time.
- Did baby turn into a rolling stone? If your little one has started to roll over, it is time to immediately transition them out of the swaddle. A baby who rolls in the swaddle with their hands and arms inside is a SIDS risk, which stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and is a sudden, unexpected death of an apparently healthy baby. The right positioning of the baby (on their back) and the use of a crib can help prevent SIDS.
Similar to adults, babies can struggle with change; it is simply human nature. During the swaddle transition, it is important to avoid making any changes to your child’s sleep environment, schedule or how you are putting the baby to bed (especially if they are going to sleep independently).
You should expect some disturbance in your little one’s sleep while they adjust to sleeping without the swaddle and in something new. Once they adjust, their sleep will return to normal. Sometimes babies might need more freedom of movements, so letting their arms out might be a possible solution to their disturbance during sleep. The Zippy Freedom was designed with this goal in mind: making babies comfortable (and safe, thanks to the lack of blankets in the crib) during their naps!
Similar to adults, babies can struggle with change; it is simply human nature.
Where to Go After Transitioning Out of Swaddle?
Picking the right product is key, and you will find there is no shortage of products to help babies sleep better at night following the swaddle transition. There are a few key features to look for in a new product:
- Does it continue to help with the Moro reflex? The Moro reflex, or startle reflex is an involuntary motor response to loud noises, intense light, and sudden movements. It involves the baby spreading their arms and moving their legs before bringing their arms in front of their body. The startle reflex is not a bad thing itself, but for some babies there’s the risk of exaggerated reactions that could negatively impact their sleep.
- Can babies roll in the product? Your little one just learned a new skill! Don’t take it away from them! When infants develop their upper body muscle, they can’t wait to show off their strength so they start to roll over. Most of the time this skill is not just a show off, but also helps the baby to find a comfortable position then they sleep.
- When will the baby have to transition again? As the baby grows, they will go through different stages, characterized by different needs for their clothes. The transition out of the swaddle is, obviously, just a phase, and keeping this in mind is essential for choosing the right item for your baby.
The Zipadee-Zip was designed for swaddle transition and checks all the boxes above for a product that will help with the adjustment. Additionally, Zipadee-Zip continues to help with the startle reflex. Most babies don’t grow out of this until after three months and many will need to transition out of the swaddle before then. (The Zipadee-Zip is only for babies three months or older).
You can also opt for a swaddle with arms out for your baby! For example, the Zippy Freedom, guarantees your baby the movement they will need to feel comfortable during their period of transition
Many parents opt for the swaddle as the go-to baby clothing option for their newborns. The cozy and restrictive comfort offered by this bundling technique can help young infants feel safe and soothed, promoting better sleep, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The design of Zipadee-Zip provides babies with a free range of movement and is safe for stomach sleeping, leaving parents able to sleep more soundly knowing that their baby is safe if they roll to their stomach during the night. This attention to detail is what makes our Zipadee-Zip so loved by babies and their parents!
Transitioning Out of Swaddle as a Start, Not as a Finish
Since transitioning from product to product can cause disturbance in a baby’s sleep, it is nice when a product can be used for more than just a few months. The Zipadee-Zip can be used up until three years of age! I always recommended staying in a Zipadee-Zip until your toddler is ready to transition to a big kid bed, as it will make it difficult for them to climb out of the crib.
For your baby each transition or change is a discovery but also a small trauma. Same is true for your little one transitioning out of the swaddle. Our goal as parents is to reduce this stressful aspect of their growth and make each transition as smooth and efficient as possible.
When it comes to infant and toddler sleep, simplicity and structure breed healthy sleep habits. We said that transitions are small, unavoidable, traumas for babies, so limiting this aspect will make your baby’s sleep environment consistent and eliminate the chance of regression! Keeping that in mind, we did our best with our Zipadee-Zip, giving priority not just to quality, but also creating a sleepwear that allows your baby to go through the easiest transition out of the swaddle you can imagine!
Maggie Moore is the Founder and Head Sleeper at Moore Sleep. She is a certified pediatric sleep consultant through the Family Sleep Institute, which means her sole focus and objective is getting your baby on a healthy sleep schedule so the whole family can get the sleep they need.
Like many parents, Maggie and her husband struggled with getting their son on a healthy sleep schedule and he was unable to fall asleep independently. As a result, her family was losing precious sleep every night.
Maggie became a firm believer when, shortly after hiring a certified pediatric sleep consultant, her son began sleeping independently at bed and nap times. It was a turning point that resulted in not only restful nights, but waking up fully rested with the energy to face the day. Maggie knew right away she wanted to become a certified consultant herself so she could help other families struggling to get the sleep they need.
Maggie and her family reside in Southern Indiana (near Louisville, KY). She received her bachelors in Journalism and a second concentration in Communications & Culture from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Follow Maggie on Facebook and Instagram.