We've teamed up with Raegan Moya-Jones, co-founder of aden + anais, who literally wrote the book on swaddling. Below is an extract from her book, swaddle love, which tells you all about the the transition from swaddle to sleeping bag and how to tell when the time is right.
"When should I stop swaddling my baby?" It is perhaps one of the most frequently asked swaddling questions new parents pose to experts and send into the blogosphere. The most frequently cited answer: "The baby will let you know."
"Most babies will tell you when they don't want to be swaddled anymore," says Bradley T. Thach, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Newborn Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. When they are older, stronger, or feel more comfortable outside of the swaddle, they will likely put up a terrible fuss or simply fight their way out of the swaddle and be content to sleep unbundled. When my little Houdinis began wriggling out of their swaddle blankets, I switched to sleeping bags. The bags allowed the girls to feel secure and sleep through the night, whilst eliminating the risk of having lose blankets in the cot.
As you might expect, babies reject swaddling at different ages, but it usually occurs between three and six months, the common age at which infants begin to outgrow their swaddle or develop a natural urge to move more whilst sleeping. Some mothers claim that their babies loved swaddling up until the age of one, whilst Dr. Thatch told me that many cultures around the world regularly swaddle babies past the one-year-old mark. For his part, the Classical Greek philosopher Plato recommended swaddling babies until they turned two. I would have paid a great deal of money to see Plato try to swaddle my four little girls when they were two; he would have had Buckley's!
Other parents say that their babies never accepted a full swaddle, and instead preferred a half swaddle that left their arms and hands completely free. As I already mentioned, I started out with the basic swaddle, then when my girls were about three months old, I moved to the more liberal Aussie swaddle so they could bring their hands to their mouths. By the time my girls were six- or seven-months-old, they became comfortable with a bath, story, lullaby, and muslin sleeping bag rather than a muslin swaddle.