For the majority of parents, swaddling is an obvious choice when it comes to their little ones. Swaddling mimics the environment inside the mother’s womb. It is wrapped tightly around the baby to make them feel comfortable, secure, and safe. But still you should know the signs, when baby doesn’t want to be swaddled.

But a baby is not always comfortable with swaddling. So you have to look out for signs baby doesn’t want to be swaddled. The thing is, you will know when they are not liking the swaddle. They will give you some clear signs of that.

They might seem fussy more than they usually are, behave like an escape artist, or react in a certain way that portrays a firm “no,” But a mother knows her baby best, so trust your instincts when you feel they are trying to say no to swaddling.

But why does a baby fight swaddling?

Fighting and breaking free from the swaddle is a sign that the baby is quite active in their sleep. Newborns pass through two different sleep cycles. One is quiet sleep, and the other is active sleep. 

But why does a baby fight swaddling

In the case of newborns, active sleep is a lot like REM sleep that adults have. But there is a huge difference between the two. In adults, during REM sleep, the skeletal muscles get paralyzed. But that is not true for newborns. Swaddling limits flailing so that they don’t get startled and wake up.

A baby can also fight swaddling when they are overtired. Take note of their sleep cues as well as the wake windows to prevent them from getting overtired.

Signs baby doesn’t want to be swaddled

Before the birth of the baby, they enjoy their stay inside their mother’s womb. They are always fed, happy, and warm in there. After their birth, they suddenly drop into the cold and loud environment, which leaves their system in shock completely. 

Signs baby doesn't want to be swaddled

Adjusting to this new world can take some time. It can also affect day-to-day life. To get them accustomed to the world, parents choose to swaddle their babies to make them feel secure and warm, just the way they were inside their mother’s womb.

Swaddling can be an amazing way to get them comfortable in the initial days. But after a certain age, you should stop that on your own if you miss out on the signs they are giving you. Let’s look for the signs baby doesn’t want to be swaddled.

They roll over

Well, it can happen that you have been swaddling them without any issues, but suddenly, they start to roll around. As a parent, you know that you should always get them to sleep on their back, but this can be a little surprising when they roll to the side while sleeping. It can be even more scary if they start rolling to their stomach.

Swaddling has been a common technique for comforting babies for years now. When it is done correctly, it is safe. But you have to keep an eye on them and check if there are any signs that the baby doesn’t want to be swaddled. And rolling over is one of the biggest cues.

If you notice that your baby is rolling over in the crib or mini crib, then it is time to stop swaddling. This is important because a swaddle has a way of restricting the movements, and it can turn out to be dangerous when they roll over on their stomach. 

They are breaking out of the swaddle

If you find your baby getting one or both of their arms out of the swaddle every day, then the first thing you should do is check if you are doing it right. But if you are doing it correctly and know how to swaddle a baby, and they are still breaking out of it, then it is time to transition out of the swaddle.

Now, the thing that might bother you is what you are going to do about it. The time of the nap or sleep might be such that swaddling your baby is not easy or rather pointless. If this happened just a few times, then it could be a fluke, but if that happens regularly, then you have to think of making new accommodations for your strong baby.

You will have to think of finding an alternative to swaddling. If they are breaking free of it, that is a clear sign that they are not liking it. There is also another explanation that they have come of age, where they have learned to roll over on their own. That is something different.

They do not like the swaddle

The baby might not be breaking out of it or has not yet started to roll over, but they simply might not like their swaddle. It is not mandatory for every baby to like swaddling. This is completely normal. 

You can figure this out if you find your baby fussing more when you swaddle them or if they seem more happy when they are out of it. You will notice a shift in their mood the moment you start to wrap them in the blanket.

Is it okay if you are not swaddling your newborn?

Is it okay if you are not swaddling your newborn

Most people recommend swaddling to prevent the startle reflex of the baby and to create a cozy womb-like atmosphere. But when you have tried everything, changed the swaddle, or checked for the technique you are using, and your baby still doesn’t like a swaddle, then do not force it on them.

The actual fact is that even though swaddling is a useful technique, it is not necessary for their development. The swaddling stage is just a small phase of their lives. If a newborn does not want to be swaddled, they do not force it on them. They are just learning to self-soothe themselves.

Well, if they do not want to be swaddled, there are other options that you can opt for. There are other techniques you can use to let them know that it is time for them to get to bed. The sooner they learn sleep associations, the easier it will be for them to sleep consistently.

What can you do when the baby doesn’t like to be swaddled?

The reason could be anything that you cannot swaddle your baby, or they don’t like to be swaddled. So, you have to look for some other alternatives that they might like and keep them comfortable. There are a lot of baby products out there, so it will not be very difficult to find something that your baby would love.

If you are looking for an alternative to swaddle, look for some of these qualities.

  • Never restrict a baby’s arm in one single position.
  • Allow them to move their arms freely so that they can roll around safely during the night.
  • Give them the mobility they require to move around all through the night, along with some added security and comfort.
  • Give them enough room so that they can grow. If you wrap a baby in a fabric tightly, it can interfere with their proper hip development.

Finding the correct alternative for a swaddle might be a little difficult, but once you figure out what is best for your baby, it makes a huge difference to get them to sleep. Some of the alternatives are sleep sacks, sleeping bags, or wearable blankets. Look in the market for the best sleep sacks, and you will be sorted.

You should keep in mind that the sleep sacks are made from various materials, and you can get them weighed before you buy them. Some sleep sacks are a little heavy to keep the baby warm during the winter, and some are lighter for those warm spring nights. And ensure that you are buying the correct size for your baby.

A few more signs baby doesn’t want to be swaddled

Here are some signs baby doesn’t want to be swaddled. They show these signs when things don’t work out for them.

  • They are struggling and squirming against the swaddle, trying to break free their limbs from the tightness of the swaddle.
  • They are breaking out of the swaddle every time you put them in.
  • If your baby loves sucking their hand or a finger to self-soothe them and you are covering their hand, they will not like it. Try to keep one arm free.
  • They cry their lungs out when they are swaddled and do not settle down.

Tips to deal with a baby that fights swaddling

Tips to deal with a baby that fights swaddling
  • Try swaddling when you and the baby are calm. This is going to make things a lot easier for you as your baby has a tendency to pick up any anxious and nervous energy. So if you are relaxed, it is going to keep them relaxed as well.
  • Try some other swaddle. Not all babies like the same type of swaddle. Some are easy to use, and some are not.
  • Have patience and practice with your baby. Often, it takes a little longer to get things right.

Try some of the best swaddles for your newborn

Try some of the best swaddles for your newborn

Here are some of the best recommendations for those babies who don’t like swaddling.

Happiest baby sleepea

This swaddle gives a combination of a unique interior with a compressive pouch, making it difficult for babies to break out of it. It is made from 95 % organic cotton along with spandex and polyester.

Review: “First off, I was stunned at the quality of this product for the price. If they sold something like this at Target, it would be $50 easy. With that…my four month old daughter is a wiggle worm who loves to fight her way out of swaddles. However, she will not fall asleep unless her arms are snugged to her sides…this swaddle was a life saver.”

Halo SleepSack Swaddle

The exterior wings of this all-cotton swaddle might be a little easy for kids to escape, but for those who don’t like a tight wrap around them, Halo SleepSack Swaddle is the best option. Babies who do not like a form-fitting swaddle try these. It also has armholes and a larger sack for easing out the midnight diaper changes.

Review: “Pretty good, and my newborn seems to sleep well in this swaddle. The wrap is like wings that come off the back and they do seem to ride up while my newborn sleeps and start to creep into his face and mouth. He is also able to get his hands out a lot of the time. I do like that you have eh option to swaddle with the hands included or not. Fits as expected. Velcro is quite strong and does startle my son when I undo it. Washed up well, did not shrink much.”

Woombie Air

If you know that your baby would escape the swaddle or want to avoid the Velcro noise, then this is the best option for you. It does not have wings, but it zips the baby from its neck to its legs. It is really easy to use and is made from a cotton-spandex mixture.

Review: “This is THE BEST way to swaddle! Our baby would wiggle his way out of even the tightest blanket swaddles. We started using two blankets, but that kept him totally restricted. This is great because it keeps his hands from waking himself up, but it is loose enough that he can still move around inside the sack, which he loves to do. At six months we still use this almost every night. This is a must-have if you plan to swaddle!”

Monitor your little ones’ milestones

Noticing signs baby doesn’t want to be swaddled is one of the first accomplishments that your baby experiences in their life. This means they are getting more secure with you along with the environment. 

It might be difficult for you and the baby to ditch the swaddle even though your baby doesn’t like it much. But this is a stepping stone towards more independence and getting a restful sleep. 


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Subhasree is a content writer who is passionate about traveling, writing, and reading books. In her leisure time, she is seen listening to music and watching web series. Writing along with music and dance are ways in which she expresses herself.

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