Transitional Sleep Stages - from Baby to Toddler

Transitioning from a swaddle is always a tricky decision. As a mother, I totally understand when other mothers are nervous about changing anything. You probably think, “If it ain't broke, why fix it?” The answer in this case is simply… because you have to! Once your baby is starting to roll, it is not safe to have them swaddled anymore (see the SIDS guidelines on this issue). Aside from the safety aspect, you actually want them to be able to roll around and this is why… You want your baby to be able to get comfy in a sleeping bag. Nothing is nicer, particularly in these colder months, than snuggling up nice and tight and keeping warm. 

The other reason is that if your baby has a pacifier you want them to be able to reach out and re-plug themselves during the night. Or if they have a blankey (if they are six months or more), then they can reach out for that and bring it close to them and cuddle up to it. All of this will help your baby sleep better and at the end of the day that’s what we all want. Basic formula really… your baby sleeps better, you sleep better! 

I often get asked for advice on how to transition a baby out of the swaddle, so here are my top tips: 

1. Invest in a Love To Swaddle UP 50/50 as this helps babies adjust to full blown freedom slowly by giving parents the option of removing one arm at a time 

2. The ‘Cold Turkey’ approach - Just make the switch straight away, which may mean having to endure a few hard nights but inevitably it won’t be as bad as you think 

3. If you don’t think you can handle going cold turkey and don’t want to invest in a 50/50 swaddle then do it over a week or so and encourage rolling during play time, lots and lots of tummy time! The general rule is that once babies can roll from their backs onto their tummies or sides easily it is not necessary to reposition them on their backs. 

4. Create a new sleep association - Mothers often worry that swaddling their babies was the perfect cue for them to go to sleep. Change it up… add some music, give them a massage first or read them a book. Just do something consistently so that they will know that it’s sleep time. 

So what now? A sleeping bag is the way to go when transitioning a baby out of a swaddle/wrap. It is recommended by SIDS not to use a blanket for safety reasons and it's also comforting to know that with a sleeping bag your baby will stay covered and warm, and therefore you won’t be woken up because they are cold. But which sleeping bag to go with? There are just so many different options available that it can be very overwhelming for mums to make a decision. Let me make it easier for you…. 

The Love To INVENTA Sleep Bag is Ah-mazing! It has a unique ‘Genius Cooling System’ which allows you to regulate the temperature of your baby day or night with minimal disturbance by simply opening a zip on either the front or back to reveal breathable mesh ventilation. Thanks to its Longa Shorta™ feature it also grows with your child (which is great because we know how these growth spurts always seem to happen as soon as we've bought something new!) and it feels wonderful with 100% natural bamboo lining. It is also hypo-allergenic which is perfect for my little sensitive princess. 

What else do you need to know? Toddlers are seriously wonderful! But as wonderful as they are, they can test limits when it comes to bedtime. Remember, as parents we have to set boundaries and this gives them reassurance and security. They will unquestionably stall, bargain, procrastinate and negotiate around bedtime. The key to getting toddlers to sleep well is very easy IN THEORY. Positive reinforcement is essential as is teaching them good ‘sleep manners’. Toddlers love positive reinforcement so don’t disregard a good old sticker reward chart (or if they don’t understand or appreciate a chart then a sticker on their shirt to wear all day is equally beneficial). Lots of verbal praise definitely helps too. This ties in with learning their ‘sleep manners’ as they can get a sticker for each sleep manner they tick off. Each manner is personal to your child. So if it was being respectful to their baby brother sleeping in the same room then that’s fine, or getting into bed by themselves or not calling out all night… whatever it may be. 

Go through the sleep manners that you expect from your toddler and really reward them for it, they will thrive on it. Constantly go over these sleep manners every night at bedtime even if you think they aren’t really listening, they are! Keep up the reward of good sleep manners and if it wasn’t such a great night then just remind them and encourage them to follow through with them the next night. Some parents want to give big rewards – avoid this as your children don’t actually need it and it isn’t sustainable. Hugs, love and praise are all your toddler seeks (and don’t forget about those stickers)!

Of course the other secret (and it shouldn’t be a secret by now) is consistency and predictability. Have the same routine every night. Dinner time, bath time, song and story time and then tell them it is time for sleep, put them into their bed, put on their Sleep Bag, give them a kiss and walk out. 

Sweet Dreams, Bec