Many babies like to be swaddled for the first few months of life. Swaddling provides warmth and a sense of security for infants, helps keep them calm and prevents them from getting upset by their over-active startle reflex. It's common practice for hospitals to show new parents proper swaddling techniques, but knowing when and how to stop swaddling is more complicated. To ensure your infant's safety and healthy physical development, you should end swaddling by the time she is 2 months old, recommends Rachel Moon M.D. in a 2013 news article from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Limit swaddling to sleep time once your baby is about 1 month old. Stop swaddling your baby while he's awake at this point to prevent over-dependence on it, and to prevent inhibiting mobility and motor skill development.
Watch for indication that your baby is ready for you to stop swaddling. Your infant will likely start moving around more in her sleep and may begin to dislike the constriction. Look for crying, kicking and increased fussiness when wrapping your baby up as signs that it's time to stop.
Switch your swaddling method so that your baby's upper torso is wrapped tightly but her arms and legs are free. This functions as an effective transitional step once your baby starts indicating it's time to stop swaddling, explains DrGreene.com.
Look for more of the same signs your baby doesn't want to be swaddled anymore after using the less constrictive method for at least a few days.
Replace swaddling with other sources of warmth and comfort, such as a soft receiving blanket. Use something fairly light, though, as babies sleep better when they're slightly cool, and overheated babies are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, according to the American SIDS Institute.
Introduce other methods of calming your baby before bedtime. Give your baby a warm bath or a gentle body massage at night, rock or sing to your baby, nestle him under your chin, play soothing music or provide a pacifier.
Swaddle your baby's arms and upper torso in a blanket -- loose enough to fit your hand in between the blanket and your baby's chest -- but don't swaddle her lower body because this carries the risk of leading to hip dysplasia, explains Dr. Richard Swend in the 2013 American Academy of Pediatrics news article.