Guest Post by Melissa Doman, a certified SleepSense consultant
The market for baby sleep products is vast and confusing. Just a quick search on the web gives you a storefront with a hundred stroller options, cribs with a bassinet and bouncer, sleep hammocks, swings galore, and more. Parents desperate to get their baby to sleep just a few more hours buy things that they don’t really need or even worse, hinder the baby’s sleep quality.
Why are these products often problematic? Because they create dependency on mom and dad to fall asleep.
We all have our own ways of soothing ourselves to sleep, but we don’t rely on swinging or a car ride to rest easy. The below products make it so that you are the underlying sleep prop, making it hard for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep without you there. I’m here to make your life simple and help you cut down on the baby products taking up space.
Here are the top products that I advise parents to re-evaluate and potentially get rid of for the best sleep quality:
Automatic swings: Seems pretty harmless, right? Lie your baby in the swing, turn it on a low setting, and baby’s off to dreamland. However, these swings are only made for infants and young babies. What happens when they grow out of it? If your baby has been going to sleep only with the help of the swing, this can translate to needing rocking from mom or dad when they can’t fit in it anymore.
Dock-a-tot: specifically designed for babies that are co-sleeping, my feeling is that this encourages an unsafe sleep environment. My recommendation is to put the baby in the crib on their own, eliminating the need for the dock-a-tot completely. And, they won’t be looking for you every time they wake up at night either. Babies who co-sleep tend to wake up after every sleep cycle because they will check and make sure that mom and dad are there. It can affect sleep consolidation pretty significantly.
Rock n’ Play: to go along with the previous two, the Rock n’ Play is only made for babies a certain age. The Rock n’ Play is also considered an unsafe sleep environment due to the baby’s sleep position and affects the head shape and neck control as well. If the Rock n’ Play is their usual sleeping environment, it will be tough to transition to the crib later. Many times, I have spoken to parents where baby simply grew out of the swing or Rock n’ Play, and they became the rocker. And this rocking can go on for hours! One or two moms I’ve spoken to would end up spending the whole night in the rocking chair.
Swaddlers for older infants: Many new parents that I work with ask about swaddling to comfort a baby. And certainly, there are more spirited babies than others and mimicking their position in the womb can help calm them. The problem here is that I have worked with many babies that keep swaddling after those first couple months, and parents end up sewing several blankets together to swaddle their 7, 8, 10-month baby. As babies get older, they want to move and they get stronger. Logistically, it can be really challenging! So, if your baby is still being swaddled, consider a gradual transition away from it. Going without the swaddle also frees your baby to move, which is good for overall brain growth and development.
Pacifiers: again, a fairly harmless and age-old baby product. For some infants, parents can use this to help comfort their very fussy baby. However, if the baby is put to sleep enough times with this, it will affect their sleep consolidation. In the middle of the night, the pacifier could fall out of the baby’s mouth, and the baby won’t be able to put it back in – that’s when cry for mom or dad to put the paci back in. One mom I worked with had to do this nearly every hour. That can get really frustrating! So, try and avoid using the pacifier as your child’s sole soother.
Crib bumpers: although these don’t usually become sleep props, for young babies these are a suffocation risk. For older babies and young toddlers who can stand and starting to climb, it gives them a step up to eventually get themselves over the crib rails. Not only can this be unsafe, but it allows for an easier escape and more opportunities to come to parents’ room.
I teach my families not only the importance of the number of hours but quality as well. Just because a baby is in the crib from 7am-7pm doesn’t always mean that it’s the best quality sleep. By trying to eliminate the props that your baby needs you for, sleep quality for you and baby can increase exponentially.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
Melissa Doman is a certified SleepSense Consultant and offers families in the Greater Philadelphia region a clear, successful and gentle approach to getting a child to sleep. To schedule a free 15-minute consultation, visit http://bit.ly/2f8qP3i.
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To learn more about Melissa Doman, melissadomansleepconsulting.com.