When to stop swaddling is the million dollar question!

Taking the leap and un-swaddling your baby can be nerve wracking!

What if they won’t settle?

What if they wake up all night?

Leaving the cosiness of a good wrap can take time and perseverance, and often a gradual approach will give your baby the gentlest transition with the least sleep disruption.

If your baby starts to roll back-tummy you need to either un-swaddle immediately or invest in a safety sleep for a few months to prevent baby rolling back to tummy in their swaddle in bed. Fortunately, most babies don’t do this until closer to 6 months when they can easily cope with no swaddle, but some little clever bubba’s do this as early as 3-4 months!

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If baby is on the cusp of wanting to be snug in a firm swaddle and wanting to be free, he may benefit from a slower transition.

If your baby isn’t rolling but is over 4 months and you think they might be ready to un-swaddle, try one arm out for a few days to ascertain if your baby is ready.

If they cope well, then you can remove the second arm and transfer to a sleeping bag.

Taking your time, about 1-3 weeks for the whole un-swaddling process is common. Transitional swaddles can help in this process, or you can simple go back to a muslin and wrap one arm in and one out. Love to dream, ergo pouch and miracle blanket all work as transitional swaddles.

To swaddle with one arm out, copy the picture below and simply wrap the final layer around your babies tummy not their arm. White noise and a cuddly in hand are also great distractions when you work on the un-swaddling process.

Quick facts

  • 30% of babies are un-swaddled by 4 months, 50% by 6 months, and the final 20% need to be un-swaddled in the 6th month for safety.

  • Swaddling becomes a sleep prop like rocking or bouncing to sleep if used much beyond 6 months.

  • Swaddling sometimes gets a bad rep, but it is safe and effective when done correctly and not in a bed sharing environment.

  • Un-swaddling your baby is a positive step towards independent sleep.

How to unswaddle

“I took Ben out of his wrap when he was 6 months old, he coped really well at that age. I had tried at 4 months but he just wasn’t ready, he cried and didn’t sleep a lot, I am glad we waited the few extra days.” ~ Julie

“Isla was wrapped until she was 9 months! In hindsight this was a sleep prop for her, and we had to sleep train her for 4 days to sleep without the swaddle, this was quite tricky and I wish we had done it sooner. She really wasn’t used to sleeping with movement and freedom.” ~ Louise

“Evie was in her sleeping bag by 4 months, she was an early roller so I had no choice. I was really worried as she slept so well in her swaddle, but within a week we were back to our old sleeping patterns, and she was so happy in her sleeping bag until she was 2!” ~ Kirsty

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