You are finishing up clinic visit for a healthy 6 month old and the parents ask you about some sort of sleep sack thing… They recently stopped swaddling the baby and are having a lot of trouble getting her to sleep without the wrap. Advice?
The transition out of a swaddle can be a struggle for some babies, we know it isn’t safe to swaddle infants once they start to roll, so what can you offer?
First, the basics: infants need consistent routines that 1. progress towards bed and 2. end (as much as possible)with infants being placed to sleep on their back while still sleepy. This helps them learn the skill of falling asleep – so they don’t need to be rocked, fed, or otherwise attended to at 2am when they wake up. An example could be: bath, stories, feed, and a song in the crib. The sequence cues the baby its time to sleep and they get to practice dozing off in bed alone, an important skill.
Sometimes they will fall asleep while feeding, which is ok, no need to wake them back up, the goal is consistency. Once a family has a solid routine down, they are in a good place for more advanced sleep training. There are certainly many products available to supposedly help ease this transition, but all will work better with attention to the basics – and most babies can learn to sleep well with just a little help from their parents.
My favorite sleep advice comes from Dr. Craig Canapari and his website: https://drcraigcanapari.com – check it out!
Pictured above, Ralphie’s famous snow suit scene from A Christmas Story, 1983 and an example of a sleep suit (Magic Merlin)