How to transition from swaddle & beyond ...

By Elisa Weeden, Shnooki sheet

Have you ever walked into the nursery to find Houdini the escape artist instead of your baby? Despite being tightly wrapped or in a swaddle your little magic man or lady has wriggled and squirmed their way to freedom.

And it isn’t a happy freedom – it’s a screaming, wide awake, give me attention kind of freedom. So you wrap them up again, only to be woken in no time by the triumphant screams of your accomplished escapist. And so the night goes on…

It’s a common story among parents and starts to make you wonder if swaddling is worth it? Scientific studies have shown that a swaddle can have a calming and sleep promoting effect on young babies, as well as reducing the frequency of spontaneous awakenings.

There’s no specific age that you should stop swaddling, but if your baby has lost its startle reflex (which usually disappears around 3 months) and is rolling over from their back to their tummy and back again during supervised play (usually around 4-6 months) you need to start thinking about transitioning for safety reasons. It can be unsafe for a swaddled baby to roll onto their stomach as there is no way for them to move around, use their arms to hold their head up, or roll back over during sleep.

The reason most newborn babies love to be in a swaddle is because it makes them feel happy and safe, like they were in the womb. When you take away that comfort and familiarity, of course they are going to cry. But you can’t leave them in a swaddle forever so, to make the transition as easy as possible, you need a plan to keep little Miss or Mr Squirmer warm and cosy all night but with increasing freedom to move as she or he sleeps.

Many people transition their baby from a swaddle to a sleep bag. These bags allow the baby to roll and roll back in their sleep, however there is still a transition period from the swaddle to a bag or to just wearing their PJ’s with a sheet and blanket.

So what are your options?

Some people go cold-turkey and just accept that they will have a few rough nights while the baby gets used to sleeping un-swaddled.

Others unwrap one arm, let the baby get used to that feeling and then unwrap the other before finally ditching the swaddle altogether.

One of the reasons we developed the Shnooki Sheet was that one of our Chief Shnooksters was transitioning her baby from a swaddle to a bag . Little Miss who used to sleep through was suddenly waking up in the night curled up in the corner of the cot crying as she had become untucked from her normal cot sheet and blanket. When we tested her with the Shnooki Sheet she remained tucked in snug and secure all night and with the blanket she was warm and cosy. We were pretty happy it worked so well as we all got a good night’s sleep!

As always, choose what works best for you. Hopefully these tips will help you transition from swaddle to sleep bag and beyond!

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Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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