When to Stop Swaddling?

(Excerpted from The Dream Sleeper with permission from Jossey-Bass.)

The optimal time to stop swaddling is between two months and four months of age. At this point the Moro reflex (newborns’ instinctive startle) has started to wane. Keeping a child swaddled much beyond this age can be uncomfortable and may affect physical development.

When parents stop swaddling their children, they’re often astonished to see how much they travel around their crib while they sleep. They move and flop from one end to the other several times a night. Babies may look peaceful when they sleep, but don’t be fooled: they’re actually doing important exercise while they slumber.

By the time babies reach four months, they will benefit from the freedom to move at night. It may not be something they immediately embrace, but all that nighttime movement helps their gross motor development. This is crucial for upcoming milestones like crawling, standing, and walking.

Never try to teach your baby to sleep while swaddled. It inhibits their self-soothing ability and makes it harder for a baby to learn.