Hi friends! I love writing for you here on Delightfully Frazzled, but I also love getting to share the words of others who can offer you different wisdom. Today I’m super excited to introduce Pachi, a pediatric sleep consultant who is passionate about helping kids (and parents!) get better rest. She’s sharing her opinions on the swaddle: why she recommends it, when to stop using it, and how to effectively transition out of it. She has some great tips for helping newborns sleep better! If you’re a new or soon-to-be parent, check out her great advice. You can also find more helpful articles and resources at her website!
As a baby sleep expert and a newborn care specialist I get asked often lots of questions about the swaddle. “Is a swaddle a prop? Is it useful? Where do you stand on a swaddle? When do I start the transition from the swaddle to a sleep sack?”
Swaddling a newborn is an excellent tool and I always recommend it. It mimics the feeling of confinement that your baby experienced in the womb. It can be very comforting to a lot of newborns. I use with all my newborn and under 3 months old clients.
(Now, some parents are more concerned about, “Is the baby getting overheated from a swaddle?” I would just encourage you to keep an eye on it. I mean, obviously if your baby is sweaty under the swaddle, then perhaps you’re wrapping him too tightly or it’s too heavy of a blanket. Again, I’m asking you to use common sense around it making sure you are doing it correctly and are watching the room temperature as well.)
But the bottom line is Swaddles are very helpful for a newborn in getting them calm. It also helps with the startle reflex where they throw their arms out uncontrollably, which can wake a sleeping newborn. Wrapping their arms tightly can help with that. Absolutely use it.
After a while a swaddle can can become a sleep prop– an unhealthy sleep habit that we want to avoid. If babies get used to the idea that they need to be tightly wrapped every time they sleep, then when they kick free. They may wake up and need your help to come back in and re-wrap them. It becomes a love-hate relationship at a certain age where your baby thinks he needs a swaddle but he doesn’t like it that much anymore. This usually happens around 12 weeks when they are starting to think about rolling around.
Babies become experimental with their movements. They like to kick and practice and roll around. Because of this they’re most likely going to kick free of the swaddle eventually no matter how tightly you wrap it. Then they are going to waking up crying for you to put the swaddle back on. Not fun. You’re going to have to intervene somewhere in the night or through the nap and get them wrapped up again.
I know, it sounds difficult: “So you are saying that I should use the swaddle but it may backfire eventually?” Yes and no. It will turn into a sleep prop if you just wait until the baby is too old or too used to it to take it off.
A good rule of thumb around the swaddle is, by the third month or when your baby start showing signs he will be rolling around soon, start working your way out of it. For example, leave an arm out at a nap time. Try for no-swaddle at a particular time. Bedtime is a great place to start experimenting with no-swaddle because it tends to be the easiest time of the day to get a child to fall asleep.
Just make sure you start doing the transition when your baby is ready and don’t wait too long.
One of my clients told me her friend that had an eight-month old, sewed together four receiving blankets so that they had a big enough blanket to swaddle their eight-month old baby. You can see how that can become problematic. If you’re a situation like that when your baby is too used to the swaddle and you’re wondering “How do I get out of this now?” I have to tell you that the only thing you can do is to lose a swaddle cold turkey.
There will be no successful way to wean out of the swaddle because now it has become such a prop and a habit. A baby may feel concerned with anything less than being tightly wrapped up in his or her normal swaddle. You’re going to have to go through it one way or the other. So let’s get it done and go cold-turkey with a swaddle.
A nice transition option is something called the Zipadee-Zip. It can be a good transitional object when you’re in the swaddle and you’re working your way out it. It resembles a swaddle but it’s a little looser with some arm and leg room involved. Check that out if you want to ease your baby into this a little more gently.
Another option is a Sleep Sack, a wearable blanket that gives the baby some comfort because they still have something around them, but it is loose enough that them can kick and roll around.
I hope these tips will help you know when to say bye bye to the Swaddle and the best ways to do it! If you are not 100% when, just watch your baby. He or she will give you the signs!
Pediatric Sleep Consultant Pachi Parra has been working with children and parents for the last 3 years as a professional nanny. Seeing how many sleepless families are out there, she decided to take her child care career to a new level. With a gentle and simple approach and good support, she helps these families to teach their children to sleep well.
Pachi trained under Dana Obleman personally, the creator of The Sleep Sense TM Program. These methods have been used worldwide by more than 30,000 families to solve children’s sleep problems. This program stresses the importance of teaching the children hot to soothe themselves into a deep, restful sleep.
Pachi’s goal is to help families be happier and healthier one sleep at a time, educating and empowering parents in the best ways to guide their children into good sleep habits.
If your baby doesn’t sleep well she can help! Just go to her Facebook Page and schedule a free Evaluation call to know how she can help you. You can also check out her website here for tips and advice.