Weaning your baby out of the swaddle: when, why and how.
When is it time to encourage your baby out of the swaddle?
When babies are approximately 4 or 5 months old they reach the milestone of rolling by themselves. They will start controlling their arms more and being much more aware of their bodies. This is the time when they need to progress out of the swaddle and start sleeping without it.
Just because you are weaning baby out of their swaddle doesn't mean you now have a bad sleeper. It simply means that you now are helping to guide them at their pace to the next stage in their development while still meeting their sleep requirements.
When you start weaning from the swaddle, it is a game of discovery for you and your baby. The first thing to discover is which is their 'dominant arm' or, more to the point, which arm do they express themselves with the most. It is the arm that, when they are dreaming, stills flies up and hits them in the face, and that is the arm that is still not ready to come out of the swaddle quite yet.
How to find which arm is dominant?
The answer is simple - trial and error. Firstly, try one night with the left arm out (still swaddle the right arm in as normal). If your baby has a normal sleep and doesn’t wake up at any unusual time, then that arm is the least dominant and this is the arm you can keep out from now on.
If, however, you try the left arm out and they wake up at times when they usually wouldn’t, then that arm needs to be tucked back into the swaddle. It will stop her from unconsciously hitting herself in the face! Keep this arm tucked in for the moment and, instead, release the least dominant arm through the other shoulder opening.
Every two weeks, trial the dominant arm out until your baby can sleep with either arm out. Then, try both arms out of the swaddle at the same time. If this is successful and you have three consecutive nights of normal sleep with both arms out, then your baby is ready to move out of the swaddle and progress onto a Gro Bag.