Swaddle depended, now what?

  • Hi everyone! I am a first time mom and I have a beautiful 3 1/2 month old baby boy. Ever since he was in the hospital we were encouraged to swaddle him to get him to sleep, which was fine but I think he is getting dependent on it to sleep. He has started to roll over (front to back) so I know we won't be able to use them for much longer but I don't know how to transition him to sleep without the swaddle, he usually wakes hisself up. I am also unsure as to how to help him self-soothe. He doesn't sleep unless he falls asleep while eating or if he is rocked to sleep.

    Please help, any advice would be greatly appreciated! Have a great day!

  • Congrats! Being a first time mom can be a hard transition! My second who is 7 1/2 months loved to be swaddled as well. She was very fussy/colicky baby until about 5 months! She wanted to even have the blanket on her face (she still does but only a little so it doesn't completely cover). I started to make it less and less around her each night and also switched to a blanket. I made sure she was aware of where the blanket was so she would know it was there.  This way if she did roll or turn she would be able to move the blanket so it wouldn't smother her. My daughter also liked to be fed or rocked to sleep and still does sometimes. What I would do if she fell asleep was burp her and move her around until she woke up to finish her bottle. Once she was finished even if she was asleep I would burp her again and then lay her down. I would let her fuss and eventually little by little she stopped being fully dependent on me. Once the signs showed she was tired I would stop rocking her and lay her in her crib. It might help you to start slowly making him fuss a little to go to sleep. Then when he gets older you can start having him cry to sleep. My daughter now knows once she is done with her bottle I lay her down give her her blanket and leave. She sometimes cries and other times doesn't. I don't usually let her cry over 30 min. Some parents don't like the cry method so that is up to you. With experience of my 2 girls that was the only way to get them to sleep on their own. Also a bath before bedtime and lavender lotion and gentle massage helps my daughter still get drowsy enough to calm herself to sleep. Good luck!

  • Hi-

    I think it's great that he responds well to the swaddle and is able to sooth himself to sleep with the swaddle.  I wouldn't be overly worried about him still needing to be swaddled to sleep.  Being swaddled is a healthy, non-harmful way to self sooth.  I think that with time you can transition him to a special blanket, stuffed animal or binki.  I would start by tucking him in snugly without swaddling all the way around and adding another soothing tool.  So far as helping him to sleep without being held or fed, it's the same sort of gradual but consistent deal.  Maybe try bundling him and putting him in the crib, place your hand on his tummy and help him feel the comfort of your hand without actually holding him.  When he is almost asleep then pick your hand up and see if he can fall asleep.  The key is consistency.  It sounds like you are doing a great job already!


  • He may not be quite ready to be unswaddled, but you can try by loosening the swadle a bit at night and during naps. Then he can move around more. Gradually loosen the swaddle until you can leave his arms out of the swaddle. Then once he is okay with his arms out of the swaddle, try leaving it all together. Good luck!

  • Your story matches mine perfectly! Some babies just need that extra bit of comfort initially but you can work him out of it. Start with nap time and swaddle him with one arm out. Do that for a few days and work on getting him to sleep with an arm out at nap time and then swaddle with the other arm out, keeping the swaddle blanket around the waist/legs. Start doing that at bedtime over a few days and then ease him out of it all together. Some babies still like sleeping in sleep sacks, even if they aren't swaddled, which is just fine. Good luck!!