Dr. Karp Part 2 Answers Two Key Swaddling Questions

March 18, 2013 |  by  |  0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, book review, Karp, swaddling
swaddled newborn baby

I have made no secret of my unassailable love of swaddling. Swaddling babies might be the only thing I love more than Game of Thrones (Winter is coming, unless you live here in VT where apparently winter is already here and apparently, never ending). Swaddling provides so many benefits (not even including how cute little baby burritos are) that it’s one of the few things that I recommend for ALL babies. So please stop asking me how to get your unswaddled newborn to sleep better because my answer will always be to swaddle that baby.

But of course the parents of these unswaddled newborns don’t live under a rock. It’s not that they don’t know what swaddling is or haven’t tried it. They tried it and and have come to the conclusion that, “Their baby HATES THE SWADDLE.”

So this seemed like a perfect question to ask the Grand Poobah of baby swaddling, Dr. Karp. Do some babies just hate the swaddle? Or should ALL newborns be swaddled?

The other big swaddling dilemma that comes up frequently is, what do you do when your baby absolutely LOVES the swaddle, but has figured out how to flip over in it. You can never ever let a swaddled baby sleep on their tummy (seriously NEVER) so these safety-conscious parents ditch the swaddle only to end up with an unswaddled non-sleeping baby. Does Dr. Karp have any helpful advice for the parents of flipping swaddle-loving babies?

Also what is the best way to swaddle a baby who is sleeping in a swing, rock n play, etc. that needs to be strapped in? I have long recommended to simply leave the legs OUT of the swaddle. Turns out there is a better way. Check out the short video below and find out how!

Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep
Looking for more from Dr. Karp? If you’re struggling, it might be time to find a local certified Happiest Baby educator for some hands-on support. Or pick up his great book which will be available in paperback on March 19th. I know, you’re probably thinking you need another baby sleep book like you need a good case of athlete’s foot. But honest, this one is worth a look.

Has Dr. Karp convinced any of you parents of swaddle-hating babies to give it another go? Is anybody anxious about getting their swaddle-loving baby OUT of the swaddle?


  1. Very timely! My 5 mo loves his swaddle…but last night he started flipping :(. Woke up at midnight and 4 am screaming bc he was face down and couldn’t right himself. He just mastered rolling and apparently is practicing at night too 😉

    We have a zippy and are going to try that tonight, but I am terrified! He has been doing so great in the crib while swaddled, only wakes up maximum once per night. He will sleep in his swing unswaddled, and will nap for about an hour in the zippy in the crib, so maybe it won’t be so bad. If it is a disaster after a few days, I think he will be going back in the swing for a while!

    • Another Zippy fan (filing away for future reference!). But sadly you can’t use the “swaddle weaners” if they’re flipping either so you’re options are:
      1) swing + swaddle (or swing + zippy)
      2) crib in jammies

      I know it sucks but there it is 🙁

      • Hmmmm. What is the issue with the zippy and flipping? (That sounds like a dr Seuss book…). It’s basically Jammies with the hands covered. He has full range of movement and can prop himself up no problem.

        • If your baby’s in a zippy and the zippy is a flipping then the baby zippy flipper meets a poodle eating noodles…

          The general safe sleep recommendation is that babies should never be face down in anything that restricts their mobility so as far as I can tell that includes zippies, merlin miracle suits, etc. But when in doubt you are always free to run it by your local beloved pediatrician!

          • Ugh. Just tried crib and PJs and it was a *disaster* – he rolled onto his tummy immediately and then started SCREAMING. we gave him 10 min to see if he would roll back (he is capable of this, although it seems very random right now) but no luck and he was just hysterical. Even my husband couldn’t calm him down…mom had to come up.

            So now he is in the swing for the night. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing but we have a few road trips coming up and I am not sure we can fit the swing in the car…

            Everyone keeps telling me that their kid slept so much better on their tummy (which is why previous generations did it, right?) but it is a foreign concept to him.

            It seems like if we want him to sleep in a crib, we either have to wait til he is a super awesome roller and can pick where he wants to sleep, or basically CIO as he exhausts himself so he learns to sleep on his belly.

            Funny, I just posted another comment on this site about how well he was doing…totally jinxed myself :(.

            • did you try one of those wearable blankets/sleep sacks? it may be harder for him to roll wearing all that material. and maybe try to put him down when he’s almost passed out and less excited to try rolling?

            • Elis – good suggestion…I do have a sleep sack somewhere. I will look for it tomorrow and give it a try. It’s such a bummer, because he was sleeping all night in his crib lately, so I feel like I am taking a step backwards by going back into the swing. But hopefully it’s just a brief step back til he can roll back and forth better.

            • We just went through this last week, having to break the swaddle because of rolling. We also started using cloth diapers three days later – guess what! It’s a lot harder to roll over in a cloth diaper (and a sleep sack).

            • Already in cloth! 🙂 but maybe with the addition of the sleep sack it will slow him down.

              Slept great in the swing after the crib freak out, so maybe I should just go with it.

              Thanks for the suggestions, ladies…this is the best forum 🙂 nice, reasonable people!

      • Hi, please could you tell me what to do about feeding and winding a swaddled baby?
        Also, should I swaddle for all naps as well as night sleep? If my little one drops off should in swaddle even if that might wake him up or simply swaddle when I see the first sign of tiredness? Also, swaddle on car trips when I want him to sleep?
        Thank you so much

  2. I am anxious about getting my swaddle-loving baby weaned from the swaddle. He will be 5 months old tomorrow and has really started breaking out of the Halo SleepSack. He still has a strong startle reflex.

    • If he’s not flipping then why the rush? Seriously it sounds like you have a “keep baby from breaking free” problem vs. a “need to ditch the swaddle” problem. Lots of people swear by double swaddling so that might be an option to pursue. Sometimes you need a newer SleepSack because the velcro has worn out. Anyhoo a few ideas to play around with?

      • We use a Muslin (Aden and Anis) blanket and do the “Double Swaddle technique” shown here:

        And THEN we put the SwaddleMe on top of that!

        And we have had to replace the SwaddleMe a few times because of the velro. But my very mobile 8 month old had never broken out.

      • My baby will be starting daycare in a month and loves his swaddle. They cannot be swaddled at daycare so I am looking for tips on how to wean from the swaddle. He also sleeps in a swing which he will also need to be weaned from. He will be 3 months old next week and will be 4 months old when he starts daycare. I just ordered a Zippy but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  3. I’d love some ultra-swaddle ideas/reviews from Alexis or others who have tried them. We’ve gone with the double swaddle for months, but now even that isn’t quite doing it. Our little guy isn’t getting all the way out of it – but he is able to get VERY loose inside, which means a) it defeats the purpose of a tight swaddle and b)he probably will get out of it someday soon. He’s seven months and I’m not anxious to get rid of the swaddle, but I am anxious to be done re-wrapping him in the middle of the night!

    He could always bust out of the Halo sleep sack and a regular swaddle. We haven’t tried the Swaddleme, but it looks to be similar in strength to the sleep sacks. Anyone have thoughts on the Woombie? The tightness looks good, but I think lack of arm movement is what our little guy needs, and the Woombie doesn’t look like it will really help with that.

    Any recommendations or ideas? Or…should we just start working on weaning him off since he’s a master escape artist? Thanks for the help!

    • Katie, I didn’t get to use it much but I have the Woombie. I bought the Houdini version and it is really tight. Somehow, my baby preferred the old-fashioned arms by the side swaddle instead of Woombie’s arms up on the chest so I didn’t use it much. Also, it is easier to get a REALLY angry baby into a double swaddle than the Woombie, at least for me. But I love the look and feel of the Woombie and will be saving it for a future sibling.

    • Katie,
      See my Double Swaddle plus Swaddle me suggestion above. The triple swaddle works for us! 🙂

    • I’ve gotten really mixed reviews on the Wombie so I can’t say entirely to “go for it” because there seem to be a large percentage of people who feel it’s a waste because it doesn’t curtail arm movement inside the sack. Although if money is no object – HAVE AT IT! 😉

      I would take Ashley’s advice – I also love the muslin wraps + swaddleme. Even if he’s 7 months go with the SMALL swaddleme (the large ones are big enough to swaddle your husband). Double swaddle.

      Also the miracle blanket is my “go to” for swaddle houdinis. Can also be used with a double swaddle scenario.

  4. I have one of those babies who loudly (read scream bloody murder) protested the swaddle. Even with the rest of the 5 Ss it was a horrible fight. Our solution? To swaddle once my son got really drowsy or even asleep. Yes, it was nerve-wracking because I had just spent 30-60 minutes getting him to sleep and then risked waking him up by getting him in the swaddle but he really slept better in the swaddle. Once we started properly swaddling he could go one 5 hour stretch at night.
    Also, double swaddle if you have to. Youtube is your friend here 🙂

    • Do you have or could you get video of this? I can imagine the surgical precision required to swaddle a sleeping baby, you with beads of sweat on your brow, your partner gently blotting them while you both gently swaddle your sleeping baby with baited breath.

      It’s a great solution that I’ve never considered and am totally not kidding, would love to see how that works!

      Double yes on the double swaddle.

      • Sadly (for you) we stopped swaddling about a month ago when we decided to ditch the paci at bedtime. But if the image conjured up in your mind was of a sort of blue wire/red wire situation you are close to reality 🙂
        My son needed to be nursed to sleep and then held for 30 minutes until in deep sleep before I could put him down. So at bedtime I would lightly drape him in the swaddle so that it got warm (I didn’t want the cold fabric to wake him) and then nursed/held him for the required amount of time. Once I felt it was relatively safe to put him down I very gently put him in the crib, waited for a few seconds before taking my arms from under him and then proceeded to swaddling him, stopping every time he stirred and making a shshsh sound all the while. I did this with several different types of swaddles including a double swaddle. Ah, fun times.

        Another trick I discovered was to “jiggle” the baby in the crib if he woke up a little. Where I live we use swaddles which have bows across them, like this:–34
        When trying to help baby doze off I would take the knot on one of the bows and move it quicky from side to side thus producing a jiggling motion(I hope I’m making sense). Boy, do we go to crazy lengths to help our babies sleep…

    • OMG! I thought I was the only one in the world that did this. I used to swaddle DD after she was asleep as well. She would fight and scream if I did it awake. I have a baby girl that from newborn to like 4 or 5 months would sleep like six to seven hour stretches swaddled like this. Once she started rolling over and I had to unswaddle sleep has gone out the window. I tried the zipadee zip but it didn’t help usp. She also hated the swing, car rides or being in the stroller. Basically any motion. She will be one in a few weeks and sleep has never been the same. UGH.

      • HA! Red wire/blue wire – THATS what I was going for. I’ve heard a billion baby stories and the “must be swaddled AFTER falling asleep” is a new one!

        • We have to do this too. Our 3 month old will grunt and struggle to get his arms free even double swaddled. So this is what we’ve come up with. We put the swaddle down in the swing with the sides of the swaddle hanging over each edge, put him down over/in the swaddle, give him the binky, start the white noise and the swing rocks him to sleep while I go do something for 5-10 mins. I check back and once he is asleep I gently pull his arms in, tuck one side of the swaddle, then tuck the other side in (all the while moving with the swings motion). Works like a charm!

          He sleeps better swaddled if he is already asleep he won’t fight it. And now he is getting bigger ill make sure that little safety belt is easy to grab once he is swaddled and buckle him in as well. It was about 10 weeks when he refused the swaddle (he wouldstay up until he managed to get his arms free) so for the last 3 weeks this has worked really well for us!

  5. This is a great video, thanks! I gave up with swaddling quickly, and I wish I had seen this earlier so I would have stuck it out longer. I have a question – at 7 months, is it too late to start swaddling? My motion junkie is a great night sleeper with swing (next to her crib and at 50% power right now), white noise, and a lovey. She gets a good morning nap of 45 minutes or so when I run with her in a jogging stroller. She has never taken to the swing for her afternoon nap, though. I am basically lost as to how to get her to take an afternoon nap. I have tried everything, with some success for a few days at a time, but now she just won’t sleep in the swing during the day (or anywhere else but on me, and I have to bounce her to sleep on a joga ball). I left a long comment about my issue on your previous post, but I guess it was just too long! Is it worthwhile to try swaddling during the day? I don’t want to add it at night, because she soothes herself with her thumb and lovey. I am at a loss as to how to get this baby to nap! Thanks for any help! And thanks for your great site – you have helped our night sleep situation so much!

    • Hey Bridget,

      I would say you have a general napping problem. LOTS of people have a general napping problem. If you held him and bounced he would take 1.5 hour naps all day long. So the issue is that he’s just not willing to take naps under the circumstances that YOU would appreciate (or that would give you a break from jogging and bouncing).

      Would swaddling help? It might. A lot of kids are out by 6 months but there is definitely a strong contingent that is still swaddled till 1 year. And in general if you even THINK swaddling will help I’m inclined to suggest you give it a go.

      On the upside you must be in great shape! 🙂

  6. Yay for this video!!! (but) I have a giant fear that my son will be 11 and still need to be swaddled. I am in no rush to get him out of it, because he acts like he is in the dark trying to find the lights switch the few times we’ve tried so I know he’s not ready. However… he does have to be double swaddled and even then sometimes he escapes. Plus he can’t just fall asleep while in the car seat spontaneously if he isn’t swaddled.

    My question to you is- what do you say to those people who were swaddling, but when going to sleep train (usually a form of CIO in the crib) stop cold turkey to “kill two birds”.

    The reason I ask is this has been recommended MANY times on the babycenter sleep message boards and it has mom’s shaking in their boots!

    • Amber, we are one of “those people” 🙂 We made it all the way to drowsy but awake in the crib using supergentle no-cry methods but then couldn’t get rid of the paci so we turned to CIO after 6 months. We did a week of preparation where we swaddled with one arm out and it went pretty well. Then started the sleep training still one arm swaddled and after 3 nights I only swaddled his torso and then after 2 nights just put him in a sleepsack and it all went quite well. Obviously, every baby is different and we may have been lucky. Maybe try a few nights with one arm out to see what happens?

    • I don’t subscribe to the whole “pulling off the bandaid at once” thing. For two reasons.

      1) Swaddling is really soothing. If you’re going to have to go to cryitoutsville, why not give baby as much soothing as possible to minimize crying?

      2) Generally getting OUT of the swaddle (a la Katka’s one arm out method) is pretty painless. Either the one arm out or the “swaddle weaning” products like the merlin magic sleep suit seem to work pretty great.

      So take that babycenter sleep boards! 😛

      • So how do you wean off the merlin sleepsuit??? She went to that from the miracle blanket when she was 3 months. Now she is 6 months and we don’t want to have to go to the next size in the merlin and its HOT and these things are like insulated sleeping bags. She is still pretty jerky. In the sleepsuit she really just slams her legs down. We call her “The Stomper”. She will do that for awhile and then fall asleep. With out the sleepsuit she just rolls over and crys. Even in a sleepsack…

  7. the woombie is one of the few products i try to convince all my friends to get!! for the very reason that babies can slide their arms around inside it. my first-born was able to suck on his fist through the fabric near his neck 🙂 and as Dr. Karp pointed out, in the womb babies have their fists up near their mouths.
    i stopped night-time swaddling for both my babies at around 6-7 months and that worked fine. my 1st couldn’t nap without being restricted till he was 2! at daycare they wrapped him in his blanket like a burrito. my 2nd is 6 months and definitely naps better in the swaddle.

    • Fantastic! Seriously – sooo many people are way to quick to give up on the swaddle.

      The woombie is definitely one of those things babies just LUV or want NO part of. They’re definitely handy because it solves the “baby breaks free of the swaddle” dilemma!

  8. This video came out at the right time. My 3.5 month old recently turned over on her stomach while swaddled and my husband and I have been trying to go cold turkey without the swaddle. The past few nights we were waking up every two hours and soothing, which is a change from her sleeping through the night! Last night, we swaddled and strapped her into the swing and she didn’t make a peep all night!! Thanks! I love your site!

  9. Our little guy just learned to flip from back to tummy while swaddled last week (he just turned 6 months on Saturday). What a disaster! He’s never been a good sleeper, but just within the last couple of weeks had FINALLY caught on to the “put down awake” thing we’d been trying to teach him for months. I could actually just put him down and walk away most of the time – something I never thought would be possible with him (he’s kinda crazy!) So much for that… Now, even if he’s so tired he can hardly keep his eyes open (without being overtired), as soon as we lay him down his eyes pop open and his arms go up in the air and NEVER STOP MOVING.

    We’ve kept everything else the same – loud white noise, routine, etc., but looks like we’re back to square one. No naps. Very difficult bedtime and frequent night wakings. So sad.

    I resorted to going back to the swing so I could swaddle him for a nap yesterday afternoon (we had him there from ages 3 to 4 1/2 months or so for naps and bedtime…). Again, it was difficult to put him down, though, and it was a short (25 min or so) nap. I suppose he just needs to get used to sleeping in the swing again, if that’s our only real option. But is that really it? I thought we were on the road to good sleep until this whole rolling thing happened. Now it seems like any work we had done is out the window. Can’t live with the swaddle and can’t live without it…

    • OK, this is a crazy idea but what if you put him down swaddled and then UNswaddled him once he is asleep? I had to swaddle my baby after he fell asleep so it could work the other way round? Babies enter deep sleep after about 30 minutes, that’s when I would try.

    • We have a similar situation (see above…) and opted to just embrace the swing again for the time being. Our dude is ok unswaddled in the swing though…I am hoping the practice will allow him to transition back to the crib once he can master rolling from tummy to back better (he loves to roll to his tummy, but then is super pissed that he is on his tummy. Of course.) little dude does better holding onto a lovey while unswaddled, too – do you have one?

    • Well swaddled in swing is definitely an option. And it’s hard to say if the short swing nap was because he’s not used to it or because he’s just overtired/exhausted.

      Another option – what about using one of the “swaddle weaners” like the merlin magic sleep suit or zipadee?

      • Thanks for the input Alexis and everyone!! We’re trying to embrace the swing again, but it’s just not going that well this time around. I think it may just be a phase where he is so busy and wanting to move around all the time that he is having trouble settling down anywhere. Even swaddled in the swing, he’s a bit more restless and wakes fairly frequently. All he wants to do is flip around! Crazy guy. Anyhow, we’re doing our best for now and hopefully this will pass soon!

        • Oh and thanks for the details on the “swaddle weaners,” Alexis (haha, “swaddle weaners…”). I actually wasn’t familiar with either of those, so I looked them up. The Merlin Suit looks funny (baby body cast!) but had good reviews, as did the Zipadee. I may try one of those sometime soon, too. I’m in Canada, though, so sometimes availability, etc. can be an issue.

  10. Hi there

    In the UK we are advised by our midwives not to swaddle because of the risk of cot death (linked to overheating I believe because the swaddle introduces multiple layers of blanket). Is this not the case where you are? I came across your site too late for my little girl (I’d already come to the put her down awake conclusion a d things were on the up) but I’m seriously considering the swing and swaddle for baby number two when they come along. I just can’t shake the fear that swaddling could be dangerous…?

    • Deb, obviously you needd to take into account the number of layers baby is wearing and the temperature in the room because, yes, overheating is a SIDS factor, but these two things are under your control so jammies + swaddle + temperature of 19-22 degrees C where baby sleeps are OK.

    • Hey Deb,

      Here in the US the medical community is very much PRO swaddle. But you are totally right in that overheating is a SIDS risk factor. But as Katka mentions it’s definitely possible to swaddle without overheating. I’m a big fan of muslin swaddle blankets which somehow don’t make babies too hot. They cost a $$ but the Aden and Anais muslin blankets are fantastic. Do they have anything like that in the UK?

      • I am from the UK too and we were taught how to swaddle in our antenatal classes so it may be just your local midwives for reasons know only to the NHS?! We were also given the advice about no rolling in swaddle and careful not to overheat, but those can definitely be accomodated. My little chap is 8 months and still sleeps MUCH MUCH better in the swaddle.

        Also, this will mean nothing to anyone but Deb – but I picked up 4 of the Aden and Anais giant muslins for a bargain in TK Maxx – so you could keep your eye out 😉

  11. Hi Alexis,

    Our 7 mo little guy regularly wakes up between 4 and 430.  I don’t think he’s hungry. He’s gone until 5 or 530 without eating before. We also tried feeding him at four a few weeks ago and it led to a bunch more night wakings. Our goal is to not pick him up before 5 but that’s very difficult.  For the past week we decided to let him cry until 5 no matter what.  He’s  gone back to sleep once or twice, but the majority of the time if he does wake up at 4 or 430, he’ll cry the entire time before we pick him up at 5. Last night was the worst. He woke up at 345 and screamed until I broke down and picked him up at 430.  What should we do? Feeding him at 4 leads to more night wakings but letting him cry is not working.


    PS the miracle blanket worked wonders for the first four months. I give it to all my pregnant friends at their baby showers.

    • I’m guessing this is a separation anxiety thing – food doesn’t work and going to him results in more waking. But I also hear you – 2 hours of ineffectual AM crying is no party for ANYBODY.

      You have a few options:
      – Double down on the crying. (Listen I didn’t say this is a fun option but it IS an option). You go to him when he wakes, you offer food, he accepts/rejects that’s his choice. You put him back down and you’re done.

      Pros: If you’re consistent (no caving) it’s a rough few days. Cons: Babies can cry a bunch in the AM because they’ve had some sleep.

      – More soothing. Even if you’re “done” with these things to encourage more sleep in the AM you offer swing, swaddle, etc. to try to get him to sleep from 4-6 AM.

      – Co-sleeping. Listen this can back up on you (your 3 AM wakeups become midnight wakeups) so the idea of a ~2 hour AM cuddle doesn’t always work. But for lots of babies this is a way to avoid tears and get everybody happily in bed until 6:00 AM. But don’t do it unless you are cool with it because this could very well set up a pattern you are stuck with for a loooong time.

      Or until you go back to option #1.

      • Uh, yeah, we were co-sleeping at 4, and it went awry quickly. Erratic night wakings, more crying, fitful sleeping for everyone involved. Even just going to him and feeding him at 4 was causing more wakings. We carefully moved the feeding to 530 and resolved not to go to him before then. It’s been better for sure. He’s not going back to sleep at 530, but if that’s the price we pay for setting boundaries, we’ll take it. Now if I can find a way to stop nursing him down for naps, my life will be unicorns and rainbows.

        • PS While letting him cry this past round, my husband insisted I put on headphones and white noise to drown it out. Mothers, please do this. It is hard to believe your baby is not in pain when you can hear him cry, even when you know that he’s not. With the headphones on, it is easier to remember that you are doing what you believe is best for your child. There is no reason to torture yourselves during this process.

  12. I have a 2 mos old. She’s EBF and loves her hands to suck/soothe. I do a modified swaddle, where her arms can be broken out if she needed them. But lately she’s bern waking up just a few minutes of putting her down :(. It’s exhausting bcs it takes me forever to rock/ walk her to sleep!! Should I try swaddling her tighter or even double swaddle even though she won’t have access to her hands??? She refuses a paci :(. I’ve never tried putting her down swaddled awake or half asleep. I basically have the swaddle blanket in position on her cradle so when I lay her down fully asleep I wrap her w/ swaddle-tucking techniques. I also use a white noise app, but it hasn’t helped if she wakes. And she can wake up even with a squeak of the floor. Am I doing wrong by trying to rock/walk w/ her to put her to sleep? I feel like that’s what I do! She STTN, but I have her on her tummy, unswaddled and we co-sleep. She has good head control. But for momma’s sanity, I rather have her on her back/ side.

    • Hey Blanca,
      Babies are exhausting! Why do you think everybody makes all those jokes about new moms stumbling around like zombies? BECAUSE IT’S TRUE!

      Listen – I hear how frustrating it is. But here’s the deal…

      Stop putting that baby to sleep on her tummy. For real. No pithy joke here – just me telling you that it’s not OK. It’s a major SIDS risk and the risk of SIDS peaks at 4 months which means you’re in the thick of it. Sure lots of babies sleep better on their tummies. But it’s still not OK.

      Ok enough lecture.

      Once you’ve listened to my advice on having her sleep on her back that opens you up to the possibility of swaddling. And I would DEFINITELY swaddle that baby! You’re baby needs lots and lots of soothing and eventually it grinds you into a pulp because you’re rocking, holding, etc. all day long. Of course you want to cuddle your baby but when it crosses the line into “an exhausting grind” it’s time to make a change.

      I would swaddle her. If she’s really into being rocked then why not try a swing? Swing+swaddle is the answer. Also if your white noise isn’t working I’m guessing it’s too quiet (common issue). You’re going for roughly the volume of somebody taking a shower.

      Good luck!

  13. Btw, she’s 10wks. I don’t own a swing, but so have a rock n play. She won’t sleep in that thing, but again I haven’t tried a tight swaddle as it seems she’s wanting to break free to access those hands! I am grateful for the night sleep, but need her to nap, too! I can’t get anything done…some days, not even shower :(. I have other tots. Two of which were good sleepers w/ my modified swaddle.

    • PS. OK fine work with the rock n play. Am less of a fan because you’re still there providing the rocking but it might be a good intermediate step?

  14. Here’s another pre-swaddled product to add the list of possibilities – the Swaddle Strap. We got one last week and have been pretty happy with it. Our little guy can STILL break out of one side, but the design allows that he can’t get it over his face and the other side still stays tight with one arm out (which makes it a great transition product for us). Also – totally made for swings! Well worth checking out if you’re dealing with a swaddle breaker or need something easy to use with the swing (or really for anybody!).

    • LOVE this product. A friend recently gave us one, and we transitioned my daughter (6 months at the time) straight into it from a really tight double swaddle with absolutely zero fuss. She’s now able to scoot herself all around her crib at night and always ends up with her head jammed into the corner since her feet are free, but it hasn’t bothered her at all. When she gets over the cold she’s working on, I’m going to start her with one arm out and hopefully we’ll be out of the swaddle for good sometime before college!

  15. Wait a tic– I’m still not understanding how to put a baby with legs swaddled buckled into a swing. Can anyone here elaborate?

    • Oh, below is a reply for you Maret! Didn’t click the right reply so you get notified…

      • Yeah I’m actually not a HUGE fan of that technique even though I used the photo. It’s actually super hard to find good photos of babies in swings (I think I emailed this nice Mom on Flickr even to get that one). Anyhoo…IMHO I would say you have two options:

        1) Lets out (swaddle the arms – legs are footloose and fancy free). Generally I’ve been pro-this way. It’s easy to do and you can securely strap baby in. But Karp prefers…

        2) Legs IN the swaddle. You would need to leave enough loose material around the legs to basically push the swaddle blanket up between their legs like a “V” so their legs are still within the blanket but the strap can squeeze in there too.

        The legs IN option is more technically difficult and I haven’t found there to be much benefit in having legs in. But I’m not a bestselling author/pediatrician so I have to defer to Karp on this one 😉

  16. Not totally sure I understood what Dr Karp meant either… but I think maybe this…. we used to strap our teeny bub in like the second pic on this article from Alexis:

    (the cute baby in the pink swaddle).

    I guess they are buckled a bit less securely than if you unswaddle the legs, but as parents we were happy with it.

    LOVED the swing when it worked for us. Total lifesaver for about 3 months!!

  17. Hello! My little almost 7 month old is starting to flip over in her swaddle and sleeping bag, and I would love to use one of the ‘swaddle weaners’, but merlin magic and zipadee don’t seem to be available in the UK. Pout. Any UK TT fans have any suggestions? X

  18. Hi, I think this company sells them in the UK:


  19. I am scared.

    This LO will NOT sleep without a swaddle. I mean, not at all. She is 5.5 months and rolling is coming. What in the world do I do?

    I broke the paci addiction overnight two weeks ago and am working on putting her to bed drowsy but awake.

    A typical night looks like this:

    bath, boob, book, a little rocking until the eyelids flutter, put in crib, she looks at me, I leave, she turns her head a few times, protests once or twice and falls asleep. (Sometimes, I have to go back in a do a pick up and little more rocking, but I do always make sure she looks at me as I leave).

    6:45 – bed-time
    10:30 – 11:00 – wake up, yelling and no amount of shhh-ing will work. Dad rocks her until she falls back asleep.
    1:30 – wake-up, feeds, back in crib 30 minutes later (she eats the whole 30)
    3:30 – partial wake up, she puts herself back to sleep
    5:30 – up for the day (cooing and happy and talking, so I suck it up and begin the day).

    She averages 9.5 hours of sleep per night, so on the low side, but so was my oldest and she is generally a happy kid.

    Naps are still a mess, paci and swaddle, but they are my next goal.

    I guess my question is two fold:

    1. Will her suddenly rolling in the next few weeks (because she is close) derail all the work I have put in?

    2. Why won’t she put herself back to sleep at that first awakening? She does it at night, after the feed and at 3:30, but no matter what we do, she needs to be rocked at 10:30 – are we shooting ourselves in the foot or will that gradually get better? When I first started the no paci deal, she would wake up after an hour and need help getting back to sleep, but she doesn’t do that anymore.

    I really, really don’t want to end up in cry-it-outsville, having visited before, so I am trying really hard to do it “right” this time around.

    I am just afraid I am screwing it all up.

    • Oh and thank you for this site – I have found a lot of advice on here to be very, very helpful in steering me in (hopefully) the right direction.

  20. Yes, I am anxious about getting my swaddle-loving baby out of the swaddle! He is almost 9 months old. About a month ago he was almost done with swaddling and then he got diarrhea that lasted four weeks and then a fever and then a cold and then vomiting. He was waking all the time and then we tried the swaddle again and voila! He slept. So we’re back with the swaddle and I don’t know how we will ever be done with it.

  21. Alexis-
    Just a quick question. You have said on here many times that some babies need to be swaddled for a long time. My guess is that those older babies are flipping to their stomachs and back pretty easily right? I mean, at a year old that has to be the case. Is it only babies that NEVER sleep on their stomachs that can be swaddled? My guy is 7 months old and has refused to sleep on his back since he could roll over a few months ago, and yet he still absolutely needed/needs the swaddle. (If he really wants to get out of it he can, and he cries and fights sleep until he falls asleep exhausted, unswaddled, and on his belly.) You say NEVER NEVER have a swaddled baby on his tummy, but he has major head control and I guess I’m just curious if there is something you know that I don’t. Please enlighten me. HOW is it that older babies can be swaddled if you can NEVER swaddle a baby that flips over? Are you only talking about very young babies with little head control? Thanks (ps I did discuss this with my pediatrician and he gave me the go ahead to continue swaddling, but I’m still curious your thoughts).

  22. Also, I only half swaddle him. He can move his feet and legs completely, and rolls both ways easily while half swaddled.

    • So in the last week we stopped with the swaddle because he wiggles around so much that when it comes undone in the night it wraps around his face so maybe that answers my question a little-still curious about the older baby swaddle thing. Aside from that, I just wanted you to know that your blog really saved my a** at a time when I needed to know other people were going through the same things. I love how you are about gentle soothing and yet when it comes down to it, some babes just need to cry. Two months ago my guy was up every 2 hours to nurse. With diligence we have gotten him into his own crib, in his own room, and un-swaddled and for the last week he has slept 7-2am, nurse, 2:30-7:30. THANK YOU.

  23. I feel so cheated by swaddling!! My nearly 5 month old daughter CANNOT sleep without it and she can roll over so I have to weane her. I wish I’d never swaddled her to be honest because getting her tosleep without it is not working!! My mother and in laws are so smug, they warned us that this would happen. Putting her in a swing, which she never has needed to sleep, seems to be a band aid rather than a solution, they need to learn to sleep in bed. Next baby – no swaddle.

    • My 5 month old was the same, but we tried the zipadee zip sleep suit a few days ago and it is going well. I started by pinning the arms of it down with safety pins for a couple of nights to restrict her movement a little more, but now I have removed them and it’s going well. She still has to be swaddled for naps right now but we’re working on that. I had tried swaddling with one arm out, both arms out, no swaddling at all, etc., and she would NOT sleep at all that way until we got the zippy. I think the zippy would be fine even if she’s rolling because it really doesn’t restrict movement-just keeps them covered and gives an “enclosed” feeling.

      • Thanks for the tip I might get one… It’s worth a try!! I cant get my babe to sleep in under half an hour without a swaddled and she wakes early… She’s been miserable this week poor kid

  24. My son is 5 months old and currently is swaddled but has begun flipping himself over and freaking out. He arches his back sooo hard when he’s fussing that he has literally flipped himself OUT of both the swing and our bouncy seat, both were tightly buckled as well. In an attempt to make it harder for him to roll over I started using the Miracle Blanket, thinking it was more restrictive and therefore would be harder for him to roll in, but his Houdini self gets him arms out as soon as he wakes up a bit at night. I’m not a swaddling dummy either. My first son was swaddled until he was 8 months. ha Any ideas? Just ditch the swaddle altogether and deal with the uncontrollable screaming and sucky sleep for however long?? Ugh.

    • This further convinces me that swaddling is not the way forward… Newborns are so unsettled anyway you may as well persevere when they need to be fed every four hours, rather then have them become addicted to swaddling and then be in danger when they can roll.

    • Not that you want to buy more items, but when my son was rolling over and threw himself out of the swing more than once, but still needed swaddling, we used a bassinet which has a lap strap. Because it was flat and not pitched like a swing or bouncer he could not arch himself out. Maybe you could find one used? The name of the bassinet is the First Years 5-in-1 Carry Me Near. This is also fabulous for trips at this age.

  25. My 3 month old girl just started rolling over. She was sleeping really well through the night when swaddled. We’ve tried a sleep sack the last 3 nights but she’s waking up every 1-2 hours. Can I still swaddle her? Or will she roll on her face?!

    • Rolling unswaddled is not the same as rolling swaddled (it’s a lot harder) so why don’t you keep an eye on her and see what happens when she’s swaddled? There’s a good chance that she won’t or CAN’T roll swaddled.

      If however, she’s rolling over swaddled then you’re done. Fini. No more swaddle 🙁

  26. We are in the same boat as many and I think it’s fate I was just referred to this blog – our almost-6-month-old daughter has thrived with the swaddle (and paci) until very recently, but she cannot fall asleep without it, and started rolling over a while ago. Since she could only roll one direction, we put her on her back with the side of the crib blocking her flip, but at this point she is so strong and so agile, that she can scoot all around the crib (her legs never stay in the miracle blanket for very long) and flip. We know that sleep training is needed, but we are terrified to do everything at once: wean off the swaddle, take away the paci, AND stop doing so much to put her to sleep before putting her down.

    We have started swaddling with one arm out, and have been using the Woombie every once in a while, with either one or both arms out, with sporadic success – but when her arms are free when she is first being put down for sleep, she gets so overly stimulated that she can’t fall asleep, and keeps taking the paci out of her mouth and using it as a toy. She’ll scream and cry and not fall asleep at all. But the real clincher is that she prefers to sleep on her stomach!!! My husband and I are living in mortal terror – we constantly watch the monitor, and keep adjusting her position if she ends up on her stomach… I just let her other arm out of the Woombie, but she is face down now, sleeping soundly.

    How is she supposed to learn to soothe herself to sleep if she continues to be swaddled? Doesn’t she need to access her fingers/thumb? The advice to keep swaddling and use a swing/seat seems very bizarre to me – there has to be some way to allow her to progress beyond it. What order to we “train” her? HELP!!

    • 1) If she’s flipping herself onto her tummy and digging it then where’s the problem? Yay! Most babies like to sleep on their tummies. Once they’re strong enough to get there, you can leave them there without all the angsty monitor watching 🙂

      2) Self soothing does not necessarily mean finger sucking. So the idea that babies need fingers to soothe is just not true. Sure some babies LOVE fingers. Others could care less.

      Your child is 6 months old so maybe she doesn’t desperately need the swaddle anymore. But some babies DO. Some parents find their babies become a crying non-sleeping mess without the swaddle so for those people, keeping the swaddle and strapping baby into a swing (to prevent flipping) buys them some time for baby to ORGANICALLY outgrow the need for swaddling at which point they can be safely put back into the swing.

      Sounds like your child is actually doing great without the swaddle and with the tummy sleeping – YAY!

      If her arms are flapping about a bit too much you might want to try the Merlin Magic Sleep suit. Hands are free so if she’s a sucker, she’s welcome to have a go. But it dampens their movements so the arms are less of a distraction at bedtime.

      • Alexis,
        Thank you so much for responding to my comments! Since then, we have been exclusively using the convertible Woombie, alternating either arm out, and during the night taking them both out. She’s getting easier to put down without being fully swaddled, and because the Woombie allows for limb movement inside of it, we feel okay leaving her on her tummy while she wears it with only one out. She sleeps SOOOOOO WELLLLL on her tummy! It’s been a total game changer. I really recommend the convertible Woombie for swaddle weaning (so far).

        The first night of what ended up being the start of sleep training, I just got fed up with rocking her after half an hour, and left her in her crib to “deal” on her own for half an hour, and she didn’t so much cry as make noise and whimper and climb all over, and then fall asleep. The second night, she cried, and I told myself I would wait five minutes and then check on her, and in 4 minutes she was asleep – HUH??? The following 3 nights, she has fallen asleep in my arms before I am done singing my one song – 2 times with the paci, and tonight without it (a miracle).

        Oh, I forgot to say, she hasn’t eaten during the night since she was about 3 months old, so that isn’t an issue.

        Here are my questions:
        1) As she is so young (2 days shy of 6 months), I don’t really want to completely give up rocking and singing her ONE SONG as part of the otherwise very simple bedtime routine – it’s part of being a little baby, and part of how I viscerally communicate love and care – BUT – is this not teaching her to fall asleep on her own? Do I actually have to stop doing this in order for her to learn that skill?? I mean, I did leave her for 2 nights AFTER singing to her, and she did fall asleep, so… I guess my fear is just what is going to happen when she doesn’t fall asleep right away. Thoughts?

        2) If I successfully wean her of the paci for FALLING ASLEEP AT BEDTIME, can I still use it when she cries during the middle of the night if it helps her go straight back to sleep? Or do I need to just ban it from nighttime sleep completely (but it is still okay for naps? Confusing! 🙂

        3) According to your articles, picking her up and soothing/rocking her when she wakes in the middle of the night is okay, right? Because that seems to be taking away another instance of her having to put herself back to sleep – or should I view it as a gradual process? Again, a bit confusing! But if we have to ban the paci at night, she will require rocking because that is taking away her soothing device.

        Again, thank you so much for the blog and for your response! So helpful!


  27. Hi,
    I agree that babies should be swaddled, but my 3 month old now fights the swaddle all night long. We used the newborn woombie with great success, but now that he’s too big (and the next woombie size is too loose on him). We’ve spent hundreds on the halo, merlin, other Velcro swaddled, and have tried to double-swaddle ith our Aden and Anais blankets. He flails too much to sleep urn swaddled, but is up very 30 mins – 1 hr fighting the swaddle. Any suggestions?

    • Sorry for the typos! Post should read:

      I agree that babies should be swaddled, but my 3-month old now fights the swaddle all night long. We used the newborn woombie with great success, but now he’s too big and the next woombie size is too loose on him. We’ve spent hundreds on the halo, merlin, other Velcro swaddled, and have tried to double-swaddle with our Aden and Anais blankets. He flails too much to sleep unswaddled, but is up very 30 mins – 1 hr fighting the swaddle all night long. Any suggestions?

    • Hi, maybe the Zipadee-zip? I used one for my swaddle loving son and it worked really well. A little pricy but it’s a mom owned small business in Texas which I was happy to support.

  28. Hi there – I feel like I’m really missing something here. My baby girl is 3 months old today and the double swaddle + swing has been an absolute life saver for us. However – how can you safely swaddle and swing? We have the little lamb from Fisher Price, and there is no way to harness them into it when they are swaddled like a little torpedo. Can’t just buckle around them because the buckles have to connect to the crotch strap. She’s just started moving and wriggling more and we’re beginning to be concerned that unbuckled she could somehow wriggle her way out of the swing while trying to break free of the swaddle. Any suggestions?

  29. Any advice for a baby who will be 12 months in two weeks, and who still likes to be swaddled with a woombie? She has recently begun sticking one arm out, but when I have tried to half zip her to ween her off the woombie, she wakes frequently. Is this normal or okay? Also, I use the woombie to put her to sleep and nurse her. In fact, it is not easy to nurse her without the woombie. Any advice would be greatly welcomed.

    • Hey Dani,

      Lots of babies are swaddled at 12 months. I’m not worried but at some point you’ll logistically need to get out. They cost $$$ but many people RAVE about the Merlin Magic Sleep Suit or Zipadee. They reduce the movement of their arms but still allow motion. THey can be a great transitionary method to go from swaddling to PJs sans tears!


  30. Any thoughts on getting a 4 month old swaddled baby out of the Fischer Price Rock n’ Play? We tried to unswaddle her first but she needs it. Hands were in the face or rubbing material or being sucked all night. It was miserable. She wouldn’t take more than a 30 minute nap all day. She has been sleeping 10-12 hours straight a night for 6 weeks. Now she was up every hour. My thoughts were to get her sleeping flat first but I’m at a loss. I need any help possible.

  31. Where’s the video of the swaddling for a swing?


  1. Essential Baby Sleep Power Tools EP 4 - Precious Little Sleep

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