Ahhh the age old new parent question: When should I stop swaddling? Swaddling with arms down is an essential part of baby sleep – even though many parents swear that their baby hates it. If you’re one of those parents, stick with it, almost every baby will come around to the swaddle. The fact is that in the womb, babies grow and develop in a snug, tight space. You’re mimicking this comforting feeling when you swaddle baby, so don’t be put off by it if your baby cries when you first try to swaddle them. The swaddle also helps calm the Moro reflex (when babies throw both of their arms back and start crying), which will ultimately help with getting more restful sleep.
While swaddling is considered safe when you follow the recommended guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it’s not something you should be doing for more than a few months.
“Unless the baby is sleeping securely wrapped in SNOO, swaddling should be stopped when your baby starts to roll, which is usually around two to three months,” says pediatrician, founder of Happiest Baby and inventor of SNOO, Dr. Harvey Karp. “Swaddling reduces crying and improves sleep, so you don’t want to stop too soon. Rolling over raises the risk of SIDS by three to four times and rolling over while swaddled raises the risk an additional three to four times. This is why doctors recommend stopping swaddling when the baby starts to roll. Trouble is, when you stop swaddling, the baby has an even easier time rolling to the risky stomach position.” He adds that besides rolling over, swaddled babies can become overheated, have trouble breathing if loose blankets cover their face or have their hips injured by tight swaddling.
This is where SNOO comes to the rescue. It allows babies to have all the benefits of swaddling, without any of the risks. The genius smart bassinet, which you can buy or rent, comes with a sleep sack for your baby. You can also buy a SNOO 5 second swaddle to put your baby in before placing him in the sleep sack – essentially double-swaddling. It’s very easy and fast to do and it helps reduce crying and boost sleep (fewer startles and less flailing). “In addition, the SNOO swaddle is secured to the bed, so the baby is protected from dangerous rolling. Our SNOO Sack has little wing loops that attach to the bed’s safety clips to keep babies safely on the back…all naps/nights. That means your baby can get all the benefits of swaddling – less crying and better sleep – and avoid the risk of rolling from zero to six months, which is the peak period for SIDS.
Bottom line: Starting at around two months, monitor your baby for signs of rolling over, unless you’re using SNOO. SNOO is the one exception to the “stop swaddling if rolling rule.”