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Are there risks associated with swaddling? When should swaddling be discontinued?

Yes. There are risks associated with swaddling. They include:

  • Swaddling too tightly at baby's hips can cause problems. Keep the swaddle loose at baby's hips. The hips and legs need to have room to move. 
  • Swaddling can cause baby to overheat.
  • If baby is swaddled with a blanket, the blanket could come loose and become a suffocation hazard.
  • Tight swaddling can make it hard for baby to breathe. There should be enough room to fit two fingers between baby’s chest and the swaddle.
  • Accidental deaths have occurred when swaddled infants are placed on their stomach or when they roll to their stomach. (An infant may roll onto her stomach even if not regularly rolling.)

If parents decide to swaddle their baby, they should always place baby fully on his back to sleep. Swaddling should be stopped by 6 to 8 weeks of age or earlier if baby shows any signs of attempting to roll. To learn more, review the Swaddling resource

Please note, there is no evidence that swaddling reduces the risk of sleep-related infant death.