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Startle Reflex & Swaddle Transitioning

Babies have different needs for their sleep as they pass through the different stages of their development.

Some babies like to be swaddled for months on end, while others constantly wriggle their arms free and others still roll over early but cannot sleep without some restriction to their ‘startle reflex’.

What is the Startle Reflex

Babies while asleep are in a state of dream sleep (REM).  The state of dream sleep occurs in about 50% of a newborn's sleep.  During this sleep, your baby's eyes dart back and forth under their eyelids, while the rest of their body is very still.  They will have the occasional twitch and may do little jerks in their sleep known as the startle reflex (also known as the 'moro' reflex).

Relaxed to Hysterical in .6 seconds

The startle reflex (or 'moro' reflex) is one of many reflexes that babies are born with and is part of their defence 'fight or flight' mechanism.  It is an automatic reaction to a loud noise, or the sensation of falling and causes the baby to be startled and flail their arms sidewards/upwards then immediately bringing their arms to their chest in the foetal position.  So if that baby is falling asleep and suddenly has a startle reflex, it will go from relaxed to hysterical in .6 seconds and when their arms move about, they no longer feel the safe environment of the womb -  the edges of their little world.

Good News! It goes away 

The good news is that the startle reflex usually disappears after around 3 or 4 months, but this may be later for some babies.  Hence, why we are encouraged to swaddle babies from birth until the startle reflex has disappeared.

Bad News: Swaddling No Longer Works

Swaddling is wonderful for babies during the first few months, until they no longer want that restriction or until it is no longer safe. Many babies develop Houdini skills. Unfortunately at this stage many babies are not ready for full freedom. 


My Personal Discovery
from the Founder of Baby Loves Sleep

During my research, I learnt a few crucial things about babies and sleep:

I discovered that not all babies enjoy the feeling of having arms restricted in a tight swaddle.  

I also learned that most babies naturally sleep with their arms up. While this is mostly true, as babies grow and develop, they start to move around during their sleep cycles and they don't always sleep in one position.

I then began to question whether keeping my baby tightly wrapped would lead to restricting his development and natural tendency to move their arms around, and that perhaps this had become the cause of his constant waking.


Enter the SLEEPY HUGS sleep sack

The uniquely designed SLEEPY HUGS sleep sack was created for babies who have outgrown swaddling and are seeking freedom from the tight restriction of the swaddle wrap, but are still needing some security to help with the startle reflex. 

Benefits of Unrestricted Arms 

The SLEEPY HUGS supports babies development by allowing babies to sleep in their natural or preferred position, but not strictly in one position only. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advice that it is essential to discontinue wrapping as soon as baby starts showing signs that they can begin to roll, usually between 4-6 months. 

Therefore, swaddling is no longer safe when baby starts to roll onto their tummy - this includes swaddle suits that restrict babies to an arms-up, arms-down or arms across the chest only positions.

The SLEEPY HUGS is safe for babies that have started rolling onto their tummy during sleep, as it allows free range arm movement for baby to push themselves back to a safe position.


When your child is able to roll over, the SLEEPY HUGS allows your baby to move their arms freely while still providing the enclosed, secure feeling that they enjoy. It is designed with a slight resistance in the arms so that they can move freely, yet there is comfort and security to calm the startle reflex.  

Tried and Tested

All our uniquely designed sleep sacks have been thoroughly tested by parents and babies just like you and have proven to give the security and comfort that they need to sleep well again.


The SLEEPY HUGS has given my baby and many others the secure feeling and improved sleep that is so needed. And as we all know, a sleeping baby is a happy baby and a happy baby means a happy family!


I hope BABY LOVES SLEEP gives your baby, and you, the sweet, deep sleep you all need.

Wishing you the sweetest of dreams,

Malou and the BABY LOVES SLEEP Family