When and How to Transition from Swaddling to Sleep Sacks

baby being swaddled by mother

One of the first things the nurses in the hospital will teach you to do is how to swaddle your baby. Wrapping them up tight in a blanket is a great way to soothe a provide comfort for your little one. For many babies, it’s a great way to help them to sleep better and longer — another major plus for you!

However, you can only swaddle for so long. Eventually, it’s going to be time to transition away from the swaddle, and the next step that many parents take is incorporating a sleep sack.

How do you know when it’s time to transition your little one from a swaddle to a sleep sack?

A Good Rule of Thumb

According to Healthline, you will want to be prepared to stop swaddling your baby sometime between three and five months. They explain that “(swaddling) is a temporary method to help newborns adjust to life out of the womb.” The more they grow and develop, the less they’ll need the swaddle.

We get it! If your baby has slept well with a swaddle, it can be really hard making a change. Especially if that means that sleep is disrupted. Sleep is precious for both baby and parent, and can sometimes be hard to come by. However, when the time comes to put away those muslin blankets, keep in mind that this is for your little one’s safety, as well as their overall development.

Signs Your Baby is Outgrowing Their Swaddle

However, there are some other indicators that you can look for that will tell you that your baby has outgrown his or her swaddle and are ready for a sleep sack, including:
  • Rolling over, especially from their back to their side or stomach. Babies can roll over as early as two months! This is a huge milestone for their mobility
  • Your baby is breaking out of the swaddle—their arms are coming out or their legs are kicking the blanket open
  • His or her mobility has increased, including rolling and scooting
  • Your baby is uncomfortable being swaddled
    • They fight being swaddled before being put down for a nap or for the night
    • They wake up more frequently during the night — this could be because they are uncomfortable with the tight swaddle
  • Their startle reflex starts to go away—swaddling your baby helps to soothe through the startle reflex. This reflex typically fades around three months, telling you it’s time to stop swaddling

If you’re noticing any of these signs before that three to five-month mark, there’s no need to wait. Any one of these signs on its own is reason enough to begin the transition from a swaddle to a sleep sack.

Tips for Transitioning to a Sleep Sack

Once you start noticing the signs that it’s time to stop swaddling, stock up on some sleep sacks. They come in a variety of colors, materials, and sizes, so make sure you’re getting one that accommodates all of your personal preferences. Sleep sacks are designed to mimic the warmth of comfort provided by a blanket. However, you should keep any loose bedding out of your baby’s crib until they’re at least twelve months, which is why a sleep sack is so helpful.

There are a few options when it comes to transitioning. One is just to go cold turkey! Pack up those swaddle blankets and start putting your baby in a sleep sack right away.

Another option is to take a week or two and slowly swaddle your baby less and less. Start by swaddling your little one and leaving one of their arms out of the swaddle. After doing this for a few days, leave both of their arms out of the swaddle. Give that swaddling technique a week and then start laying them down in a sleep sack.

You might also consider swaddling every other time they go down to sleep. For their morning nap, wrap them up in the swaddle. When the time comes for their afternoon nap, do the sleep sack.

If one technique doesn’t work out, don’t let it get you down. Every baby is different, and what works for one child won’t be quite the same with another. Keep trying until you find the technique that works for you.

Other factors can contribute to how well your little one sleeps, especially during this transition period. Young babies thrive from having a schedule, so make sure you’re being consistent with their sleep schedule.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider investing in some black-out curtains so you can keep the room as dark as possible. Make sure they’re wearing cozy and comfortable pajamas, like a knotted baby gown. Have a white noise machine to cancel out any background noise that might happen while they’re sleeping.

How Long Can I Use a Sleep Sack?

Once your baby has successfully transitioned to sleeping with a sleep sack, there isn’t a timeline on when they need to stop using it. You’ll find that there are even walking sleep sacks for older toddlers.

Remember that a sleep sack was designed to replicate the warmth that comes from sleeping under a blanket. Once your child is old enough to sleep with a loose blanket, there’s no need for a sleep sack. However, your child’s sleep sack may come to serve as a lovey of sorts, providing comfort during nap time and at night. So it’s really up to you when it’s time to say goodbye to the sleep sack.

Giving Your Baby a Good Night’s Sleep

At the end of the day, we know that your biggest priority is helping your baby to sleep well and sleep safely. When the time comes to transition from a swaddle to a sleep sack, it can feel like a daunting task. Equip yourself with the right tools and tips and with time, your baby will be sleeping soundly in their snuggly sleep sack!

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