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Here's a hard-and-fast rule that might help you: When your
baby is able to roll, for safety reasons it's time to go swaddle-free. Even if she's never rolled in the swaddle, as
soon as you see her rolling on her play mat, the safest move is to stop swaddling.
Yes, the end of the swaddling era feels strange. It's the
wide-open world of pajamas and freedom of movement. You're not alone in being
nervous to take the plunge. We've met moms and dads who, for a short time, find transitional PJs like the Merlin suit really helpful. A
sleep sack is another option you can try.
The end goal, though, is to have your baby go to bed in just
pajamas, so she's free to move, grab her small blanket and find her favorite
sleep position. If you have some time to make a gradual transition (because
your baby is not yet rolling), you can go one step at a time. Start by
unswaddling just her arms and seeing how that goes for a night or two. She may
find her hands and rub them on her face, which can be soothing and may help her
sleep. On the other hand, if the result is wildly smacking herself because of
the little startle reflex, re-wrap her and try again in a couple of weeks. Once
you've gotten arms out, the rest is easy—it's the arm freedom that is the
biggest hump to get over.
All this is good news, I promise. Imagine you were contained
in a tightly wrapped blanket and couldn't move. It wouldn't help you sleep,
right? Eventually, the same goes for our babies. Going from containing and
wrapping them to letting them freely move, self-soothe and be in charge of
their own body movements at night takes time to get used to.
get there, though, and she'll sleep better as a result.