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How (and when) to transition your baby from a swaddle to a sleepsack

Updated: Apr 22

FIRST, let's discuss why we even use a swaddle in the first place. The swaddle is wonderful during those first weeks to help calm your baby and provide longer stretches of sleep. It resembles the environment in the womb giving them that snug/tight support. It also helps against the reflex babies have early on, and keeps their arms and legs from flailing.

While the swaddle is wonderful tool to help with sleep, it is no longer safe once baby is starting to roll.

So, how do you transition from this amazing sleep resource in the easiest possible way?

First, if baby is rolling, you have to remove the swaddle immediately and go right to a sleep sack.

However, if there are no signs of rolling and your baby is around ~8+ weeks then you can take one of the below approaches.

  1. Cold Turkey: You can just immediately move to a transitional sleep sack or a regular sleep sack and give your baby grace as they take some time to adjust (some specific product recommendations are linked at the end).

  2. Partial Nights: Begin the night without the swaddle and use a transitional sleep sack or a regular one. If baby wakes up or is fussing earlier than normal you can switch back to the swaddle. Ideally, each night, you make it longer and longer until they need to go back in the swaddle.

  3. One arm in and one arm out: For a few nights leave just one arm in the swaddle, then move to both arms out.

  4. Use a transitional sleep sack: Some sleep sacks offer a little more support and can help for a few weeks between fully transitioning (recommendations below).

How to approach the transition during the day vs. night:

This might end up being a personal choice but you don't have to transition for both day and night at the same time. Some babies handle the transition a little better at night when sleep pressure is higher and might need more support at nap time. Figure out what might be best for your little one. Sometimes just going all in and dealing with any setbacks can be easier and overall shorter. For my youngest, I ended up doing the transition for naps first and then night sleep. At this point, with my current situation, I was okay if naps were shorter but wasn't ready to reduce any night sleep just yet... :)

When is the best time to do the transition?

I've already mentioned that around 8 weeks is a great time to start the transition. I find it easier, and safer, to allow for more time to work through the transition before baby starts to roll + before they get too old and get more stuck in their sleep ways. My babies are always late rollers and usually don't hit that milestone until around 7 months but they are always out of the swaddle by about 3 months at the latest.

Need more help with this transition? Are sleep disruptions stressing you out? Want help establishing an age-appropriate routine? Contact me for a FREE 15-minute consult to see if working together could be a good fit.

Product Recommendations:

About the Author:

Jessica Dooley- Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Best Little Sleeper

As a mom of THREE boys (4 years, 2 years, and 1 month) Jessica knows firsthand how important sleep is for kids and the entire family. After learning how to support her boys in sleep in very different ways, Jessica developed a passion for pediatric sleep, and started to help many friends and family. Due to this passion, she officially got certified through the Institute of Pediatric Sleep and Parenting in 2022 and launched Best Little Sleeper. Jessica supports families 1:1 with virtual consultations and customizes each plan to the unique situation and the family. Her goal is to help families get the best sleep possible!

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