If you follow any parenting sites or skimmed over headlines last month, you likely saw reports about the massive recall for Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘N Play Sleeper. Enormous in scale, the Sleeper recall includes all models from the product’s inception in 2009. Sadly, the Rock ‘N Play is attributed to more than 30 infant deaths. After much thought, I decided now was as good a time as any to talk about the billion-dollar baby industry that continually markets items to sleep-deprived parents, promising to help their babies sleep…and how you don’t need any of them to have a well-rested baby (and self).
If you’ve not checked out safekids.org, it contains a wealth of information for parents and has a worthy mission: “Safe Kids Worldwide is a global organization dedicated to protecting kids from unintentional injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost 1 million children die of injuries each year.”
A quick look at the recall section of safekids.org shows that there have been ten products recalled in the first four months of this year that are related to children and sleep. Ten! In my mind, this is an excellent argument for keeping nurseries minimalist, and supporting evidence for skipping the gadgets and snake oil fixes for infant sleep support. Simply put, there is no easy fix for sleep-deprived babies; it takes routine and consistency to take your baby from multiple night wakings to sleeping through the night.
Pay attention to environment
Your baby’s safe and healthy sleep starts with the nursery or sleep environment you’ve established. Whether you’re room-sharing or baby’s sleeping in a separate nursery, you want to make sure that it’s conducive to sleep.
Think of some of the best nights of sleep you’ve had. For me, it’s been in a cool, quiet room that was as dark as a cave. The ideal — and safest — sleep environment for your baby is a room that is dark, quiet, and cool. You want the place you’ve chosen for your little one to ooze sleep vibes, which means you need to forego decorating it busily and brightly. Cool, neutral tones — think minimalist — are conducive to relaxation and sleep.
Routine is everything
While baby gear like swings and rockers provide rhythmic movements that lull your baby — much like rocking in your arms — the rhythm you should be focusing on is that of routine. Same time, same place, same way. When the swings and rockers stop — or your baby outgrows them — you’re left with an unhappy baby who is dependent upon a mechanical item to go to sleep.
Instead of investing in expensive gadgets, consider investing in a consistent sleep routine, day in, day out, letting your little one take cues for sleep and learn to soothe themselves into slumber. No more tired arms trying to mimic rhythmic rocking, just a tried and true routine.
Skip the gadgets
Whenever you’re adding something to the nursery or your baby’s sleep environment, you want to be extremely cautious. In the case of the Rock ‘N Play mentioned above, it had initially been rated for babies ages three months and younger; in other words, the rocker was rated for babies not yet able to turn over, yet we all know that every baby is different and hits milestones at different times. The Rock ‘N Play became dangerous as soon as a baby was able to roll, which often happens before 3 months of age.
If you’ve ever heard of baby boxes, you understand the simplicity I advocate for in your baby’s nursery. A flat surface, no blankets, no toys — keep your baby’s sleep area as boring as possible, both for safety and to eliminate the possibility of stimulation keeping your little one awake.
If you need help creating a healthy sleep routine for your little one, or are interested in a nursery assessment, a complimentary 15-minute sleep consultation.