When do I have to stop swaddling my baby?

Some babies need to be swaddled up to 8, 9 & 10 months of age so it is perfectly fine to still swaddle your daughter when she is sleeping but during the nonsleep periods, Dr. Karp recommends keeping her unswaddled so she has time to strengthen her muscles and practice her development. When trying to wean from the swaddle, begin by placing one arm out of the swaddle. If she is still fussy & moving her arm she may not be ready to be weaned.

43 Responses to “When do I have to stop swaddling my baby?”

  1. Bridget Says:

    Our son is 5 months old and we still swaddle him for sleeping (mainly because he has to have a pacifier to sleep and otherwise pulls it out of his mouth). I am terrified now that he is trying to learn to roll over that he will roll over in his sleep and suffocate. We place him on his back in a positioner, but some mornings I will go in to get him and he is still totally swaddled, but wriggled away from his positioner. Should I be concerned he may roll over while still swaddled?

  2. Angelar Says:

    I have found my 4 month old rolled over on her belly, face down twice in her swaddle. Is it time to stop swadding? If so, how do we keep her from waking during the night?

  3. Casie Says:

    My son is 3 months old and sleeps very well when swaddled. He can roll over to his belly now, even when tightly swaddled. This causes him to end up face down, without his arms to help him lift his head. Do I need to stop swaddling him?

  4. Leanna Says:

    My son is 7 months and is rolling over now each time he is swaddled. Does this mean he is to be weaned from the swaddle? I have attempted it but I’m finding he is waking up constantly throughout the night-3 to 4 times . I’m at my wits end and I don’t know what to do can you please help me with this situation.He was sleeping through the approximately 8-9 hours I would like this back. Please help!!!

  5. Jordan Glover Says:

    Use a sleep positioner in the crib or co-sleeper to keep them from rolling over!

  6. Nuria Says:

    I swaddle my baby with the Woombie. To tell the truth that swaddle is great because it does allow my baby to roll over back and forth and still remain swaddled. The Woombie allows him to use his arms while still feel the snuggle of a swaddle. Everyone should try it. My baby loves his Woombie. By the way he is 6 months old and still needs to be swaddled.

  7. Dr_Karp Says:

    Swaddling works very simply…it keeps babies from starting themselves…this allows them to stay asleep longer and to be calmed more effectively by the other S’s. The arms should be snug, but the hips/knees loose and flexed. There is no convincing evidence it increased oxygenation…studies show the O2 of swaddled babies equals the O2 of unwrapped ones.

  8. Dr_Karp Says:

    Never put your swaddled baby on the side or stomach…unless told to do so by your baby’s doctor…side and stomach are great to calm babies who are crying, but sleeping in that position has been shown to increase the chance of SIDS.

  9. Dr_Karp Says:

    not recommended

  10. Dr_Karp Says:

    you really dont want a swaddled baby sleeping on the stomach…so 1) make sure you are using the best white noise (all night)…that helps sleeping be more peaceful with less rolling
    but 2) if the rolling continues, let your baby sleep swaddled and belted into a fully reclined swing or infant seat…try to wean the swaddle again in a month or two.

  11. Julia Butela Says:

    We have been swaddling my daughter since she was born. She is now 6 months old and cannot sleep at night without being swaddled. The only reason this bothers me is because if she gets her arms out she wakes up. Since her hands are barely free she cannot sooth herself and screams. Oftentimes, she gets so upset that she takes a while to get back to sleep. On nights that she cannot get her hands free, she sleeps for 7-8 hours straight. She is also very hot during the summer nights because of the swaddle. Should I start the weaning process or continue using the swaddle? Thanks!

  12. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Julia,
    THanks for your question. Try swaddling in a light sheet or gauzy cotton blanket (in just a diaper) to avoid overhearing (and use a fan too if needed. If that is still too hot, stop the swaddling. And use a strong white noise sound all naps/nights…(our specially engineered womb sound CD is the best one available). It often work wonders to reduce wiggling in sleep and keep babies in the swaddle…and it will be much easier to wean the swaddling when you use sound as loud as a soft shower all night (continue the sound for at least the first 12 months to prevent problems form teething, growth spurts, etc).
    And, I hope you take a look at our Happiest Toddler DVD when your baby gets to 9 months…it does for tots what THB does for babies. In days, you can reduce struggles, boost patience and get your infant on track to be more cooperative and have better self control.

  13. Jennifer Shaum Says:

    Hi,

    My son is 6 months old and still wont go to sleep unless swaddled. My husbands grandmother is totally afraid of this. She seems to think that 1) He can get pshycological damage from it and 2) that I could get into trouble for still swaddling at his age. I try to explain to her that he isn’t swaddled so tight he can’t get out of it, he is only swaddled to sleep… I mean I’m not putting him in a staight jacket or anything. But just to ease her peace of mind can you tell me if I am doing something wrong?

  14. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Jennifer, I understand why your HGM is worried, she didn’t grow up with babies being swaddled. But, of course it’s been used for thousands of years and babies do just fine..even swaddled to 9,10, 12 months (just for sleep of course). Make sure you are also using a good white noise CD (as I have described in letters to other moms). It is key to helping your DD wean form the swaddle earlier and to prevent waking form teething and other issues.

    Also, the swadddle needs to be snug enough so she can’t get out…otherwise it can actually make babies more fussy…and leads to a loose blanket that can get aeround her face.
    (And, don’t forget to take a look at The Happiest Toddler DVD when she gets to 8 months!)

    I hope that helps,

    Dr. Karp

  15. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Louise,

    It’s very common for babies to go through growth spurts and need more food. However, I have 2 questions for you: 1) what type of white noise are you using? Sound that is too quiet or high pitched may just not be effective enough anymore…a rougher sound works better (that’s why books recommend vacuums, hair driers…or our specially engineered low pitch rumbly sounds). 2) at tis age many babies are so nosy they get distracted during the day and forget to eat, so they have to make up for it at night. Try making sure your feeds are quiet and undisturbed…using white noise during the feed also helps babies focus on the job at hand. Cluster feeds (offer feedings every 2-3 hours in the afternoon) and a dream feed at 11P may also help.

    Good luck!

    Dr. Karp

  16. bkumar Says:

    Our Baby had reflex problems and we used to sleep him in a swing / cradle swing all night as that kept his reflex problems comfortable as per doctor’s advice. He was also crying a lot when we put him in a bassinet or crib. Now at 6 months he likes to sleep in his crib and since last week he learnt to roll. He has just started rolling in the past week to his tummy. He is very fond of rolling every where for fun.
    he is able to lift his head up and use his arms . still I am concerned as he is rolling to his tummy in his crib. I see him rolling to his tummy often at night and put him back to his back. Since our bed and crib are very close I monitor him frequently. I am still troubled and worried. Is there a solution. is it normal for babies to do . I use positioners still he rolls over .Is it normal for babies to roll to their tummies.

    How to handle this ? Please suggest.

  17. Dr_Karp Says:

    It is very normal for a 6 month old to roll to the tummy in the crib. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that once a baby can roll to the stomach you dont have to keep rolling him back. He is almost completely passed the age of SIDS.

  18. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Stacey, At this age most babies are ready to be out of the swaddling, but they still need a rough womb sound all night and naps (like our Soothing Sleep sounds) played as loud as a shower. Start the white noise and you may be able to wean the swaddling in a week. At this age babies can roll over even when swaddled, but they are strong enough to lift their heads and breath even when they are on the stomach. Nevertheless, if you continue to swaddle, I would let him sleep in a fully reclined infant seat or swing – exactly as described in the DVD: swaddled, buckled in, with the white noise playing. When he’s safely strapped in the he won’t be able to roll over anymore.

  19. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Marlena, At this age most babies still need the swaddling , but if you also play a rough womb sound all night and naps (like our Soothing Sleep sounds) played as loud as a shower he will sleep better adn be less likely to flip over. However, if he still is rolling when swaddled I would let him sleep in a fully reclined infant seat or swing – exactly as described in the DVD: swaddled, buckled in, with the white noise playing. When he’s safely strapped in the he won’t be able to roll over anymore. Happy T’giving!

  20. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Sounds frustrating! All those changes can certainly turn a good sleeper into a reluctant one. You could certainly add the swaddling back (it’s a little late, but some kids just love it!). I would also try encouraging his attachment to a teddy or blankie during the day and at nap time and then giving it to him at bedtime…also try dimming the lights and putting on white noise 60 minutes before bedtime to signal to his brain that bedtime is coming…and have a regular, calming bedtime routine…perhaps with some massage, every night.

  21. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Lindsay, At this age many babies still need the swaddling , but if you also play a rough womb sound all night and naps (like our Soothing Sleep sounds) played as loud as a shower he will sleep better adn be less likely to flip over. However, if he still is rolling when swaddled I would let him sleep in a fully reclined infant seat or swing – exactly as described in the DVD: swaddled, buckled in, with the white noise playing. When he’s safely strapped in the he won’t be able to roll over anymore. Happy T’giving

  22. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Susanne, At this age most babies are ready to be out of the swaddling, but they still need a rough womb sound all night and naps (like our Soothing Sleep sounds) played as loud as a shower. Start the white noise and you may be able to wean the swaddling in a week. At this age babies can roll over even when swaddled, but they are strong enough to lift their heads and breath even when they are on the stomach. Nevertheless, if you continue to swaddle, I would let him sleep in a fully reclined infant seat or swing – exactly as described in the DVD: swaddled, buckled in, with the white noise playing. When he’s safely strapped in the he won’t be able to roll over anymore

  23. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Ken,
    I am so glad the 5 S’s have helped so far. It is very common that babies resist falling asleep (or begin waking more) at 4 months. I am glad you are using the rough white noise. Good try with one arm out, but clearly that was not what she needed. So, here are several things you can try to shorten the struggling:
    Get out for some long walks in the late morning to get plenty of light exposure (protected from direct sun…of course)
    Greatly dim the house lights for the hour before you put her to bed
    Use white noise (like a soft shower) for the hour before bedtime
    Delay bedtime 30 minutes or try it 30 minutes earlier (is she yawning and bleary eyed when you put her to sleep? Kids who are not tired resist sleep…and so do kids who are overly tired).
    Try a rougher sound on the CD (like the hair dryer), played at the intensity of a shower (played much less than a vacuum).
    Consider using a fully reclined infant swing (exactly as described in the DVD) for naps and nights…swaddled, buckled in, with the white noise playing (away from the family dog).

    Please let me know how it goes! Happy New Year!
    Dr. Karp

  24. Dr_Karp Says:

    HI Sandra, Yes, it’s too late for that…but it is not too late to start using the white noise CD (I’d use the rain on the roof sound..it’s on Itunes).
    Good luck! Dr. Karp

  25. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi K,

    Hmmm…he loves to be in someone’s arms? That is really another way of giving the 5 S’s. So you should be able to mimic that with some combination of other tools. Try a rougher white noise (like the hair dryer) and are you using the swing fully reclined? are you jiggling it, as shown on the DVD? on the fast speed? Perhaps place a warm hot water bottle on his tummy to imitate the feeling of being held…
    Let me know how it goes! Dr. Karp

  26. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Kendra,

    Thanks for the feedback..I’m glad the 5 S’s were a help! Make sure the sound is strong (as loud as a shower) and rough/rumbly (I like our specially engineered sounds – hair dryer or rain on the roof that have the high pitch reduced and low pitch amplified). Use sound and swaddling for all naps and nights. Many infants wake because they are going to be too early…or because they are hungry (do you wake him to do a dream feed at 11p?) Also, I recommend you always put him in bed awake (if he has fallen asleep, jostle him a tiny bit when you place him in bed to wake him slightly…so he learns to put himself to sleep when he is not in your arms…if he cries…jiggle the crib or pick him up to calm him…then put him back in the bed). Please let me know how it goes! Dr. Karp

  27. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Rachel, Your 7 month old should be able to be weaned from the swaddling…do you use strong white noise for all naps and nights? Sleeping on teh stomch swaddled is not recommended for infants under 4-months…but by 7-months she should be able to lift her head and move her face to the side to make sure she can breath…there shouldn’t be any objects that might block her nose/mouth, like pillows/soft toys/etc in her crib. All best, Dr. Karp

  28. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Please see the answers already posted about weaning swaddling,rollin gover and using white noise. Best of luck.

    Dr. Karp

  29. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Megan,
    THe best is to use a BIG flat, thin blanket and swaddle exactly as shown on the DVD…really snug. Make sure the sound in strong enough (as loud as a shower…and rumbly – see other discussions of white noise on this site). If he loves bouncing..he may even need to sleep in a fully reclined swing – as discussed in the book and DVD.

    Good luck, Dr. Karp

  30. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Lindsey,
    Please take a peek at some earlier answers on this subject on this site…you’ll see a host of ideas (using our CD/itunes noises are more effective than machines…and use as loud as a shower…belting him into a fully reclined swing (should go about flat)…and even letting the swing move.
    Good luck, Dr. Karp

  31. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Carrie, Good Q…you want to separate the blanket at the legs and put the belt between the legs..the arms stay wrapped..I demonstrate that on the Happiest Baby DVD…it’s really pretty easy..make sure you are using the right type of white noise too.
    Good luck, Dr. Karp

  32. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Leigh,
    Going outside won’t cause colic…and you can go out the very first days…if the weather is agreeable…just keep your distance from people (and wash your hands when you come back).

    Have fun,

    Dr. Karp

  33. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Emily,
    My guess is that the sound you are using is not loud/strong/rough/low pitched enough…so that is the first thing to change. (You might check out our specially engineered sounds on itunes or on the Super-Soothing Sleep Sounds CD). Also, I would recommend swaddling his legs too (they can be loose…the arms very snug)…having the legs free makes it much easier for a baby to break out. If all else fails, you might consider letting him sleep in a flat swing…on the fast speed. All these things are easy to wean once he is sleeping well.

    Good luck,
    Dr. Karp

  34. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Kadie,

    I am so sorry to learn about your son’s hearing problems. You are right, that would make the white noise ineffective. But, kids with hearing loss often respond well to vibration…some parents have had success with pitting an electric toothbrush in with the baby for naps …or using a vibrating infant seat. You might also use white noise and crank up the base all the way…with a tweeter to emphasize the vibrating lower pitch sounds in our itunes tracks 6,7 or 8.
    You can also use a swing as demonstrated on the Happiest Baby CD.

    I hope that helps!
    Dr. Karp

  35. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Don;t worry…she won’t go to college needing to be swaddled! Some babies seem to need swaddling even to 8, 9, 10 months…but what helps to wean it faster is to use a rough, rumbly white noise CD for all naps and night sleep. (I usually recommend track 5 or 6 of our specially engineered CD…played about as loud as a shower.)
    Have fun! Dr. Karp

  36. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Talia, Make sure you are using a rumbly white noise CD (all night/naps…as loud as a shower)…this will improve his sleep…but if he is still trying to roll over, I recommend you ask your doctors permission to swaddle him (with the white noise playing) and then buckle him snugly into a fully reclined (flat) swing or infant seat.

    Take care, Dr. Karp

  37. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Anne, As I discuss in my new sleep book, infants who can escape the swaddling are not being swaddled properly (big enough blanket? arms snug?) or they may need to sleep swaddled in a fast moving swing all night…I recommend you double check your technique with your doctor or on The Happiest Baby DVD). Also, make sure the sound is as loud as a shower…and try a more rumbly, rough noise (I discuss this in other responses on this page). Best of luck! Dr. Karp

  38. Dr_Karp Says:

    You don’t have to…but most parents find that the best way to learn these counterintuitive methods is to watch the DVD a few times (to master the basic techniques)…and then the book is much more understandable. Good luck!

  39. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Natasha,
    Yes swaddling is still OK (my longest wrapped patient was 18 months!!)…but are you using a strong white noise? That is key to helping wean form swaddling. Also, at this age using a lovey. If you want to learn more, there are lots of specific suggestions in my new sleep book. All best, Dr. Karp (sorry for the short response….)

  40. Dr_Karp Says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Yes, you don’t want your swaddled baby to be on the stomach. That is why I often recommend the baby wrapped and snug in a fully reclined swing…and are you using a strong white noise!!? That is VERY useful to keep babies sleeping…it’s like a teddy bear of sound that reassures them during sleep!! If you would like, there is more info on this in my new sleep book. All best, Dr. Karp (sorry for the short response….)

  41. Dr_Karp Says:

    As I have said many times on this site…swaddled babies who roll over – but still need swaddling t sleep well – can be swaddled (with white noise on) and hen belted into a fully flattened swing or infant seat.

  42. SP Says:

    Dr. Karp,

    I just watched your DVD today and tried the 5 S’s tonight with my almost 3 month old. It worked wonders. He usually has a crying/screaming fit every night for 1-2 hours, but tonight, it only lasted about 10 minutes! We always have a fan on in the room and a giraffe that makes white noise, but the wrapping, swinging, and shooshing were what worked. I have shooshed him since he was born, but was afraid to be too loud. You eased my concern. He is asleep right now and I’m looking forward to some shut eye myself. Thank you so much for the techniques!

  43. Shannon Says:

    I had been taught to swaddle a baby snugly by my mom since I was 9 years old. So, when I had my child this past May, I knew that I would be using that “trick” simply bc of its effectiveness. However, in my 8th month of pregnancy, a friend gave me your book, Happiest Baby, and told me it was a must read. It was the only baby book I read cover to cover…the missing 4th trimester just made SO much sense. I truly feel that book built on my skillset and allowed me to effectively & confidently “know what to do”. Altho part luck, our son is not a sensitive soul so that does play a factor…he has truly been the happiest baby on our block. Thank you, Dr. Karp

    I had no idea a forum existed like this…our son just turned 12 weeks & I was starting to worry that I ‘needed’ to stop swaddling him when he slept…but I know now, I’m fine. And thanks to the dialogue in this forum, I once again feel confident in my decision and prepared for the short-term ‘what ifs’. Thank you, everyone!

    Sincerely,
    Shannon

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