May 23, 2024

Transitioning from Swaddle to Sleep Suit

Transitioning from Swaddle to Sleep Suit

Some babies cannot wait to get more freedom and start breaking out of the swaddle on their own, and others love the security that comes from the tightness of a swaddle and it seems like they could sleep swaddled forever.

However, there does come a time where you do need to ditch the swaddle to keep bub safe.

As per the American Academy of Paediatrics, when an infant exhibits signs of attempting to roll, usually around 3-4 months (but may present earlier), swaddling is no longer appropriate because it could increase the risk of suffocation when the swaddled infant rolls to the prone position.

As per these recommendations, your baby should no longer be swaddled at the first signs of bub learning to roll.

HOW DO YOU REMOVE THE SWADDLE?

If your little one is quite sensitive to changes, it is a great idea to start this transition well before you are seeing the signs of rolling. Be proactive and start “weaning” them of the confines of swaddling to make it a more gradual change.

Some sleep bags such as the Love to Dream or ErgoPouch have transitional aspects that allow you to open the arms to help with this change.

In this scenario, you can remove one arm of the swaddle, keeping one arm secure and allow a couple of days or a week of adjusting to this freedom, and then remove the second arm whilst keeping the chest swaddled. After another couple of days or a week, you can remove the swaddle all together and move into a sleep suit in its place. You can follow their lead with how long to stay at each step (as long as they aren't trying to roll!).

A quicker transition could allow for you to start with one arm free for Nap 1, the second free for Nap 2+ and both arms out for bedtime.

For babies that are not sensitive to change, OR for babies who are showing signs of rolling, swaddling can be dropped cold-turkey. Remember that your bubs safety is #1.

WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT DURING THIS TRANSITION?

Of course, it is expected to see some sleep disruptions as they get familiar with the extra freedom that comes with their arms free.

Some may still be bothered by the moro reflex (more commonly known as the startle reflex), others may get distracted by brushing their hands against the side of the bassinet or crib. However, some babies don’t show any setbacks at all!

The length of disruption depends on your bubs temperament, prepare for up to 1-2 weeks of disrupted sleep.

Common things you may notice are:

  • More difficulty falling asleep, you may need to incorporate shushing and patting
  • Frequent waking if bub still has the moro reflex
  • More prominent wakes, less likely to connect into subsequent sleep cycles
  • Shorter naps

FINDING THE RIGHT SLEEP SUIT

A few key points to find the perfect sleep suit for your little one:

  • Ensure the sleep suit has plenty of room in the leg area, often spanning much longer than your bub. This allows for non-restrictive movement to help your little ones development.
  • Check for proper fit of the sleep suit to ensure no risk of suffocation. It can be tempting to buy the up size for longevity, but you want to ensure the neck of the suit is not able to reach up to cover their nose.
  • It’s a good idea to check material of the sleep bag, especially if your little one runs hot or cool, or if they are prone for skin irritation such as eczema. You may want to consider organic cotton or bamboo versus polyester blends or fleece.
  • Check TOG rating of the suit in comparison to time of year and the room temperature. Below you’ll see a great reference for how to dress your baby with different TOG ratings. Remembing, each manufacturer has their own recommendations and the below is simply a guide! 

Remember that each child is unique and this transition will look different baby to baby. Some babies are much more sensitive to the tight embrace of a swaddle so they will likely need more time to master this advancement.

Don’t stress though, as your bub will love the freedom once they have the practice of their new found movement.

  • Has this transition caused more disruptions than expected? A 30 minute chat may be helpful to talk through how to support your bub through this change. 
  • Our Newborn Sleep Guide walks through some hands-on support techniques to help your little one find comfort in things other than swaddling.
  • Not sure what is right for you? Book your FREE 15 min Discovery Call and see if we can help!