Alternatives to Swaddling

Swaddling is a sleep aid that many baby experts and parents recommend. Much like their time in the womb, swaddling provides a cozy and snug environment for your baby. Since many newborns have twitching-like reflexes that they are unable to control, swaddling helps keep them still, calm and ready for sleep. However, some babies resist swaddling leaving parents to wonder about alternatives to swaddling.

Alternatives to SwaddlingSwaddling is a tried and true method of soothing babies to sleep for many. It’s one of the 5 S’s that Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block, recommends for calming babies. But when babies are not feeling the love from a swaddle or age-out of swaddling, many parents search for alternatives to swaddling to help pacify their babies and lure them to sleep.

One helpful solution is wrapping only the upper or lower area of your baby’s body. This can be achieved in several ways. First, you can use your traditional swaddle blanket or a pre-made swaddle blanket and only wrap up your baby’s legs. Or you can use an upper body only swaddle called the Swaddle Strap, which holds your baby’s arms in place to avoid sudden movements that may wake her.

Sleep sacks are also great alternatives to swaddling. They zip over your baby’s clothes or pajamas to form a wearable sleeping bag, of sorts. Sleep sacks come in long sleeve or sleeveless versions to keep your baby cooler or warmer depending on the season. Another nifty take on the sleep sack is the Zipadee-Zip. It zips your baby’s arms and legs within compartments in a blanket to allow some movement but still binds your baby for warmth and comfort.

Sometimes alternatives to swaddling don’t involve a different wrapping method, but simply require sleep associations and a better sleep environment to help ease your baby into dreamland. A consistent naptime and bedtime routine that may include a bath, a feeding, a story or a lullaby are all great for getting your baby ready for sleep. Also, having a sound machine and a soft nightlight can make your baby’s room feel comfortable and safe. Creating sleep associations will signal to your little one that it’s time to clam down and get ready for rest. After awhile, she’ll come to expect and enjoy the routine and the sleep that follows.

Rocking, wearing or bouncing your baby to sleep may help too. Being held closely and tightly to mommy or daddy is somewhat like being swaddled, but better! Plus movement may help your baby relax and fall asleep faster.

You may need to combine some of these alternatives to swaddling or try a few to find what works best for your baby. For those who enjoy it, swaddling is great up until 3 or 4 months. After that, transitioning to alternatives to swaddling is a better choice to allow your baby space to move and to prevent muscular problems associated with tight swaddling.

Sources: Parenting and BabySleepSite