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When and How to Stop Swaddling a Baby

Sleep expert Heather Turgeon, co-author of "The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep—Newborn to School Age," will fix your family's sleep problems in this space as she does in her home consultations. Turgeon's solutions are nonjudgmental, kind and—best of all—based on science.

No situation is too challenging. Leave your sleep problem in the comments. Let's all get a good night's sleep, finally.

Dear Heather,

I think my baby is ready to not be swaddled anymore, so now what's the best thing for her to wear at night?



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Dear Unwrapped,

This is a question that stumps a lot of parents, because the goal of the first four months is exactly the opposite of what comes next. In the first three to four months, we wrap and swaddle babies because they have immature nervous systems that need containing—an unswaddled baby sleeping on her back (where we put her for safety reasons) will naturally wake a lot because her arms and legs go flying periodically.

When babies develop new motor skills, like the ability to roll to their sides or tummies, they're ready to be set free. The goal at this point is to give them as much freedom of movement as possible. When babies get comfortable rolling and moving in their cribs, they can find their own favorite sleeping positions—that's the ultimate goal for sleep.

So the best night attire is fitted cotton jammies (or an over layer of a blanket sleeper, which is another footie pajama but for cold winter nights). This is preferable to a sleep sack, because it allows the baby to freely travel around the crib. We want babies to "own" their sleeping space, adjusting and moving as they see fit.

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There's no need to over-bundle. It's also OK for your baby to just wear a cotton onesie or a footless one-piece pajama in the summer.

Here's to cozy sleeping!

Sleep happy,


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