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Signs it's time to ditch the swaddle

There are many benefits to swaddling during the first months of life; it provides them with a sense of security, comfort, and helps promote better sleep.

It has been known that swaddled babies sleep better, experience less anxiety and that swaddling prevents unnecessary wake-ups due to the startle reflex.

Most parents use swaddling during the newborn stage, and then start to phase it out at around 3 or 4 months age. Some babies enjoy being swaddled beyond 6 months, whilst others start to fight it even much earlier than 3 months.

For some babies the startle reflex they experience may still be strong, and removing the swaddle when they are not yet ready may only result in more frequent waking due to startling themselves during sleep.

And so, there isn’t exactly a ‘right’ age for when you should stop swaddling. The important thing about swaddling however is to make sure you are swaddling correctly – but this is another topic for later.

If your baby is breaking free of their swaddle, this isn’t necessarily a sign that it’s time to stop swaddling. However, if it results in loose blankets in their cot, then this becomes a safety issue and its time to either ditch swaddling or to switch to a safer swaddling alternative.

Basically, swaddling becomes ineffective and even risky when babies start to reject swaddling.

That said, the best guide to knowing when swaddling is no longer working or worse has become unsafe for your baby - is none other than your baby.

When is it time to ditch the swaddle?

If none of the above signs apply to your baby, below are things to consider when deciding when swaddling is no longer appropriate:

Developmental Milestones: Swaddling may interfere with a baby's ability to explore and develop their motor skills, such as bringing their hands to their mouth, reaching for objects, and grasping things. Once a baby shows increased interest in these activities, swaddling might inhibit their progress.

Hip Development: Babies need to have their hips free to move and develop properly. Overly tight swaddling or swaddling that restricts leg movement can increase the risk of hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint is not properly formed.


The question is more like what is an effective alternative to swaddling? Because there are now many baby sleeping products that can be used as an alternative to the swaddle blanket wrap for swaddling.

Here are some key things to look for when choosing an alternative:

  • Look for something that doesn't restrict your baby's arms to any one position.
  • Look for something that allows your baby to move their arms freely to enable them to roll safely during sleep.
  • Look for something that gives your baby freedom to move while providing the security they need to promote good sleep (because they may still be experiencing some startle reflex). 
  • Look for something that is roomy enough to support healthy hip development.

The Sleepy Hugs is Designed to Make Swaddle Transitioning Easy - Shop Now!

Swaddling your newborn helps them to feel safe, secure and keeps them sleeping longer. A huge WIN for parents!

But as they get older and start to roll, they should no longer be swaddled. Swaddling restricts arm movement, so if they were to roll onto their front they may not be able to roll back again and this can be dangerous.

The Sleepy Hugs allows for a gentle transition from swaddling to free arms without going cold turkey.