How & When To Transition From Swaddle To Sleeping Bag

How & When To Transition From Swaddle To Sleeping Bag

Swaddling is a wonderful way to help babies stay calm and reduce their crying as it recreates that warm, cosy feeling of being in the womb. One of the best benefits of swaddling is that it helps suppress the Moro or Startle reflex experienced in younger babies. 

But, swaddling isn’t forever. You’ll have to eventually put the swaddle away and transition your baby to a sleeping bag, and this can become quite a challenge for parents if your baby has gotten quite used to being swaddled. This article will help guide you on when to stop swaddling and talk about three ways to safely and effectively transition to a sleeping bag. 

What you’ll learn in this article;

  • When you should stop swaddling your baby and why: 5 signs to watch out
  • How to transition from swaddle to the sleeping bag: 3 Steps
  • Are baby sleeping bags safer than swaddles?
  • The best sleeping bags to transition to

When you should stop swaddling your baby and why?

Between 2- 6 months - when baby starts to roll over. There’s lots of conflicting information out there, and you’re probably wondering which one is right. We checked with Plunket and the Ministry of Health, and they both recommended that swaddling should stop when babies “start trying to roll over”. 

According to Plunket, most babies roll over between three and six months.

But how does rolling over affect swaddling? Swaddling is only safe for babies lying flat and on their backs. In any other position, swaddling can be dangerous as the baby is at risk of suffocation. 

Here are 4 other signs that it’s time to stop the swaddle,

1. When your baby’s startle reflex starts to go away

All newborns are born with the startle or Moro reflex which is one of the main reasons for swaddling as it helps soothe them. However, an infant’s startle reflex usually starts to fade out between two to four months old. So, if your baby startles less and less, it would be a sign to transition to a sleeping bag.


2. When your baby wakes up more frequently at night

Have you noticed that your baby is waking up at night more than usual, especially without needing to be fed or changed? This might be because the swaddle is becoming uncomfortable for them and are trying to break free.

3. When baby can break out of the swaddle

If your baby can unwrap themselves or even wiggle an arm out, the swaddle is no longer safe for them. Loose fabric is dangerous for infants as it can increase the risk of SIDS through suffocation.


4. When your baby doesn’t like being swaddled

Some resistance is expected, especially on the first try, however, if your baby starts to fight the swaddle as they grow older, it can be a sign that they are ready to come out of it and sleep with their arms free.

How to transition from swaddle to the sleeping bag

Stopping swaddling can be a challenge if your baby has grown quite used to it. You can stop cold turkey or do it gradually in the below manner,

Step 1: Start by swaddling your baby with just one arm out at first.

Step 2: After you’ve tried step 1 for a few nights, and the baby is used to having one arm out, swaddle with both the arms out. 

Step 3: Try step 2 for a few more nights and then stop using the swaddle altogether and move to the sleeping bag.


Are baby sleeping bags safe?

Sleeping bags or sacks are a popular way to wean babies off from the swaddle. They offer the same snugness as a swaddle but don’t come with the risk of being unwrapped as they are made with either a zipper, snaps, velcro or a combination of the three. 


Are sleep bags safer than swaddles?

If used correctly, yes, sleep bags are much safer than swaddles as they lower the risk of SIDS while keeping the baby warm at the same time. However, it's important to find the right fitting sleeping bag for your baby. 

The right-sized sleeping bag would prevent the baby from slipping down into the bag and becoming covered. 

We stock sleep sacks from a variety of materials and brands, like this Stanbury House Hemp and Organic Cotton Sleep Sack which is 100% NZ-made, gentle on baby’s skin and perfect for use all year round.



The best sleeping bags to transition to

Need some help choosing a sleeping bag. Not to worry, we’ve put together a list of sleeping bags best by budget and style.

You’ll be happy to know that all sleeping bags at Hatch Baby conform to AS/NZS 1249-2014 sleepwear standards. 


The Best Budget-Friendly Sleeping Bag

From $30



Best Transitioning Sleeping Bag

Love to Dream Swaddle Up Transition Bag Bamboo 1.0 Tog - Grey




Best Sleeping Bag for Crawling and Walking Babies

Living Textiles Sleep Walker




Best Sleeping Bag for Winter

Merino Kids Go Go Bag




Best Sleeping Bag for Summer

Cotton Muslin Sleeping Bag


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