Author Topic: Weaning the swaddle - when, how, tips and tricks  (Read 11259 times)

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Offline jessmum46

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Weaning the swaddle - when, how, tips and tricks
« on: March 20, 2013, 15:42:54 pm »
Weaning the swaddle - when, how, tips and tricks

From around 3 months of age the startle reflex diminishes and babies begin to develop better control of their arms.  Many babies will at this age begin to find their hands and start to develop self-soothing skills.  This can be a good time to start weaning the swaddle, although some babies will not be ready until later on.

*If your baby is able to roll from back to front it is important to stop swaddling for safety reasons*

From the special sleep interview with Tracy Hogg:
“Q:  I’ve seen some questions from parents about swaddling babies beyond the age of 3 months – whether to do it.

T:  And a lot of babies need it, because they haven’t quite found their fingers.  You know, some babies up to 7 or 8 months like to be wrapped.  Even as adults – my husband cannot bear the bedclothes tucked in, and I have to be in a cocoon.  It’s individual.”

Other signs that your baby may be ready include fighting being swaddled or frequent Houdini-like escapes.  Many parents find out by accident that LO is ready when they escape from the swaddle but continue to sleep as normal. 

There are two main approaches to stopping swaddling - the gradual approach and ‘cold turkey’.  Tracy Hogg described the gradual approach:

“First of all, if you’ve been swaddling and now want to try stopping, you’ve got to do it gradually, first one arm and then the other.  The process is to go gradually.  Some like to have one arm down by their side and the other up by the face, so they can find their fingers.  But if you find they’re not settling being unswaddled, even if you’ve tried to do it gradually, then swaddle them – and keep trying the gradual approach every now and again. But keep swaddling until they can settle.”

If you have previously been using a technique where the arms are swaddled by the sides, you can try an alternative swaddling technique such as the Aussie swaddle (Swaddling Technique (aka "Aussie swaddle")) where the hands are contained within the blanket, but are next to the face so LO can suck on them if needed.  You can then progress to swaddling with one arm out, then both. 

The alternative approach is to go ‘cold turkey’ and just remove the swaddle.  Some sleep disturbance is to be expected with either approach, but many Mums have had success this way with LO getting used to sleeping without a swaddle after a few days.

Other useful tips and tricks
-   Using a Grobag or similar sleeping bag to give a feeling of containment and provide a similar sleep cue to swaddling
-   Tucking a light sheet over the top of LO and firmly tucking it under the mattress at both sides, again to give the feeling of security (could be used with a sleeping bag)
-   Try unswaddling for naps initially, keeping the swaddle at night until LO is more used to sleeping without it
-   Introduce a lovey to give LO something to keep their hands occupied with, and encourage self-soothing
-   Try being in the room when LO is about to transition between sleep cycles and applying gentle pressure to the upper arms to prevent jolting (holding through the jolts) - you should do this for a few days/naps in a row and then try a nap without

Finally, if you try to wean the swaddle and LO is not ready, then unless there are safety issues consider reswaddling and trying again in a week or two.