Swaddling is one of those great things that we learn when we are still in the hospital with our babies and we’ll continue doing as long as it works. Swaddling helps both mom and baby get more rest, it helps baby feel safe and secure, keeps baby warm, and may even help when a baby is suffering from colic. Swaddling is an art form, and it’s been used for so long because it works with more babies than not. So, when do you have to give it up? Is there a time when you should stop swaddling your child?
During the first weeks of life your child will likely feel more comfortable when they are swaddled because they’ll stay warm, he or she will feel secure, and they won’t scare themselves with startle reflexes. But, after about a month or so you should consider cutting back on the amount of time that your child is swaddled. Swaddling at night is still fine at this point, or any time during sleep, but during the waking hours your baby should be free to experience the world through touch. Babies at this age often start to reach out toward things; they can feel the skin of their parents, the softness of their blankets, and just about everything else in their environment. Babies at this age learn through touch, and it’s important that they are able to do so.
A baby that is swaddles can actually be kept from advancing developmentally because of their immobility. While most children will wiggle their way out of the swaddle at this age, they should feel free to move about and start experiencing the world around them. The more your child is able to move around, the more he or she will develop, and the mobility process is already beginning! At just one month of age your baby is learning how to move and control his or her body so in just a few more months crawling and then walking will be a possibility.
Babies over one month of age will usually tell their parents through movements or crying that they do not like to be swaddled anymore, so the swaddling usually stops naturally. But, if your baby still likes to be swaddled you need to unwrap him or her during their waking hours so they can begin to move about. The baby that doesn’t want out of the swaddling around this age is few and far between, but it does happen. Some babies are just very content to be wrapped and snuggly, but it’s important for them to begin to learn about the world around them. The only way for this to happen is through movement, and that can’t happen when your baby is swaddled.