Swaddling your newborn baby can help them sleep better but should you swaddle your baby for daytime naps? As a sleep consultant for 15+ years, I get this question a lot and the answer might surprise you. Read on for more information about when you should swaddle your baby for naps.
Why Swaddle Your Baby?
The benefits of swaddling are numerous. Most babies sleep better while they are swaddled because it mimics the womb, keeps their startle reflex from waking them up, helps to keep them on their back which is safest, and soothes them.
How to Swaddle
Essentially, to swaddle your baby, you wrap them up in a little burrito. However, there are many swaddling products nowadays to help you swaddle easier, faster, and safer so your baby can’t break out. Loose blankets can be very dangerous for a baby!
Be sure to review our How to Swaddle article for information on how to swaddle your baby safely.
Should You Swaddle Baby for Daytime Naps?
Yes! You should swaddle your newborn baby for daytime naps. When your baby still has the moro reflex, keeping them swaddled will help them take longer and more restful naps. In general, there is no reason NOT to swaddle a baby for naps because we want them to be rested during the day so they sleep better at night.
If you are worried about your newborn confusing days and nights, try not to be. There are other ways to teach them the difference between day and night. Most babies will sort this out naturally within a few weeks anyway. If not, simply limit any single nap during the day to two hours to help with this. That means you can still swaddle your baby and simply wake them two hours later, if necessary.
When to Stop Swaddling for Daytime Naps
Of course, all good things come to an end and that includes swaddling. Eventually, we need to stop swaddling, and stopping the swaddle during naps is a common strategy. This will allow your baby to get used to having their arms free but without disrupting their nighttime sleep (which is exhausting for you!)
I recommend you dabble with unswaddling at least one arm around 8-16 weeks old at least a few times a week in preparation for the 4-month sleep regression. That doesn’t mean you have to unswaddle your baby for ALL naps EVERY day! Gradually, allow more and more time without the swaddle so your baby can get used to it without disrupting your newborn’s schedule.
Over the next several weeks, your baby can spend more and more time being out of the swaddle at nap time. If they start rolling, you will want to unswaddle immediately for safety purposes. If you’ve already been “practicing,” the transition will be smoother.
Most parents will stop swaddling the baby completely by 4 to 6 months old, on average. If your baby rolls from back to belly sooner, you will need to stop the swaddle earlier.