Many newborn and young infants love being swaddled because it makes them feel safe and secure. However, by the time infants are three or four months, they should not be swaddled as they need to be able to move around freely – especially while they are sleeping or napping.
This is not just a comfort issue – they actually need to move freely for their growth and development. The movements that they do while sleeping help to develop their gross motor (large motor) skills and help to prepare them for crawling, standing and walking – all important and essential developmental milestones for babies. Babies whose movement is restricted do not have the opportunity to develop these important gross motor skills.
We all love seeing our babies sleeping snugly and swaddled. That’s OK for the first few months, but then we have to let them grow and move so that they will develop into the active and moving toddlers we love.
One thing that is important to keep in mind is that babies who have been swaddled can have difficulty falling asleep once you stop swaddling them – so you may need to gradually stop swaddling. You can change from swaddling to a sleep sack with your baby’s arm inside for one week. Then you can transition to having your baby’s arms outside the sleep sack to eventually not using the sleep sack at all.
Dr. Gina Lamb – Amato MD is a general pediatrician and developmental pediatrician who works at Village Pediatrics and Agho Medical practices both in Manhattan, NY. She has a masters in child therapy and works with a child psychologist Rosa Vasquez PhD performing office and home consultation for newborns and parents, office and home developmental assessments, school consultations and parent child playgroups where play and art along with baby massage and other techniques are used to help parents bond and support their child’s development. Formerly, Gina was the Director of Pediatric Special Medical Needs before she went into private practice where she cared for medically fragile infants and children. She is also a Early Intervention Pediatrician for Early Intervention which assesses and treats infants from age zero to 3 years. She has extensive experience in Early Head Start programs which work with infants from prenatal to 3 years of age. She is the mother of a beautiful daughter who is 3 years old and the joy of my life. Her husband is an artist, producer and owns Synchronicity Space, a non-profit arts organization that supports emerging artist in fine art and theatre. Finally, she is also an artist who paints mainly babies and children.