Safe Sleep Tips: The Sleep Sack

baby sleep sack - gift of sleep

If you’ve spent any time on my blog or my Facebook page, you’ll know that I’m a proponent of the sleep sack. And while you might find it strange to be talking about this as the summer heats up, but think about it—do you sleep without any covers? I didn’t think so. The sleep sack is a safe way to make your baby comfortable when they sleep.

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What You Need to Know About Split Nights

Your baby went to sleep without any issues, and you’ve finally hit R.E.M. sleep — YES! Then, you’re awoken by your baby’s cries. You go into the nursery to calm your little one, change a diaper, and maybe take care of a feeding, but your little one is wide awake and ready to play. It’s tough to be upset with that adorable little smile, but what on earth is going on here? Today I’m going to talk about split nights.

all about split nights

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How to Create the Perfect Nursery

Whether you’ve been trying to conceive for a long time, or discovered you were unexpectedly…expecting, at some point your thoughts have turned to the nursery. What room to use, what crib should you pick out, bedding, decor, and then maybe, just maybe, you thought about something practical, such as a changing station (but not likely). If you want to save yourself some time, and some sleepless hours, you’ll follow my advice for creating the perfect nursery — and it has nothing to do with matching paint chips with potential themes.

create perfect nursery

Skip the fun stuff

I know, I know, you’ve always wanted to create a bright, colorful, themed nursery, and you have the Pinterest board to prove it. And while that nursery will likely photograph really well and look like a lively and happy place to be, it’s counterintuitive to your baby getting healthy sleep.

Call me the fun police or a spoilsport, but the reality is that those nurseries with colorful characters, decorations and hanging mobiles only serve to provide stimulation, instead of a calm and restful atmosphere. Try to keep your baby’s nursery walls free from bright and/ or busy prints (blank walls are ideal), and keep to a muted color scheme, to ensure that your baby isn’t scanning the walls and decorations when they’re supposed to be sleeping. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunities to decorate your little one’s bedroom in the future.

Go dark

Perhaps one of the best investments you can make for your baby’s nursery, and likely one of the only items in there that will stay, long after the toddler years are gone, are blackout curtains, blinds or shades.

How well are you able to sleep with daylight pouring through the window? Probably not so well without a sleeping mask, but unfortunately, your baby doesn’t have that option. Creating a dark room for your baby will help them fall asleep without a lot of fuss, especially for those daytime naps and lengthy summer daylight hours. Your baby is already comfortable in the dark, having spent ten months in your wonderfully dark womb, so creating a sleep environment that mimics that is ideal.  

The cooler the better

Not only do babies sleep best in a cooler room — ideally between 65 and 70 degrees — it’s also safer for them. A hot room can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS, so keep the room cool and use a sleep sack or onesie to keep your baby comfortable while they sleep.    

Think Princess and the Pea

Just like the princess in Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale, your baby won’t be able to sleep well if they’re uncomfortable, and remember, they sleep most of the day. Put the money you’d planned to spend on nursery decorations towards a comfortable and safe crib mattress. For safety reasons, your baby’s mattress should be firm, as soft mattresses can pose a suffocation risk.

While you may be disappointed by your lack of nursery flair, I guarantee you’ll thank me once you bring your baby home and they’re sleeping soundly. If you’re unsure about your baby’s nursery, or have concerns about your little one’s sleep, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

My Favorite Things: A Sleep Gift Guide

‘Tis the season of gift guides, and I don’t want to disappoint, so I’ve rounded-up a few of my favorite things to create a sleep gift guide just for you! If you’re a client of mine, a few of these items won’t be new to you, as I recommend all of these things to my clients and friends with little ones struggling with healthy sleep.

Here are product recommendations I give to clients, to help create a healthy sleep environment for their babies, in one convenient sleep gift guide.

In this sleep gift guide, you’ll find snuggly things, comforting things, and things that promote health and sleep. I work with all of my clients to create the perfect sleep environment for their little ones, so it’s only natural that I would include items that help create the perfect setting for sleep! Without further adieu, here are six of my favorite sleep things!

Homedics-soundspa

1. HoMedics SoundSpa

Whether you have a busy, noisy household or not, a white noise machine can be a godsend, and HoMedics SoundSpa is my pick. Not only does it help mute outside noise with ambient sound, it means you no longer have to run a fan, vacuum cleaner or hair dryer to help your little one sleep (and yes, I’ve had clients use all of these things, and more, to try to create ambient, soothing sound in the nursery).

If you’re familiar with Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby method for baby sleep and soothing (which you likely are because you’re here), then you know that one of the 5 “S”s is shushing to soothe your baby (and swaddling another – you can read my thoughts on swaddles HERE). Think of the HoMedics SoundSpa as a shushing machine…that never runs out of breath — it really does work!

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2. Hushh for Baby

On the go? Don’t want to pack your sound machine, or don’t have the space to pack it? Hushh for Baby is a portable white noise machine, compact, and outfitted with a rechargeable lithium ion battery, able to be charged by the included micro-USB cord. Hushh for Baby also comes with a handy clip, so you can clip it to a stroller while out and about!

bitta-kidda

3. Bitta Kidda Sleep Sack

I am a strong proponent of sleep sacks, and the Bitta Kidda Sleep Sack combines two of my favorite sleep items: a sleep sack and a lovey. If you’re not familiar with the term “lovey”, you’ll know it as a comfort object. Remember Linus’ blankie? A lovey is an object babies (and small children) use to self-soothe at night. Bitta Kidda has attached two lovies to their sleep sack, neither of which will cover your baby’s face, making it a safer lovey option.

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4. Lovey

Notice that a ‘lovey’ is the closest I’ll come to recommending crib toys. I know toys are cute, and perhaps you think they’ll engage your baby so that she will spend more time in the crib, but crib toys are dangerous and unnecessary.

Aden + Anais make security blankets I like to recommend: the Silky Soft Musy Mate and the Classic Issie security blanket.

honeywell

5. Honeywell Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier

With a built-in UV sanitizing bulb and filter, the Honeywell Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier ensures that only the cleanest moist air is being filtered into your room. Humidifiers help ease breathing, and help avoid sickness from the drying effects of the heat during the winter months.

Notice I’ve made no mention of a baby monitor, in recommending items to add to your nursery. That’s because I want parents to be able to sleep, too, and baby monitors are not conducive to sleep, when you’re wakened throughout the night by your baby’s sighs, coos and occasional cries. If you’re already attached to your monitor, take a look at these tips to liberate yourself from baby monitor purgatory.

But what about older children, you ask? Not to worry, I’ve got something for them, too!

ok-to-wake

6. OK to Wake! Alarm Clock and Night Light

The OK to Wake! clock is perfect for toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary-age children. If your toddler is popping out of bed super early, you can use the OK to Wake! option on the clock. Setting the hour you wish your toddler to wake (or stay in bed until), the clock glows green when it’s okay for him to get out of bed. OK to Wake! also features a digital display, so your child can read the time. Additional options include a night light feature (glowing yellow instead of green, so as not to confuse your little one) and alarm clock. All-in-all, the OK to Wake! clock is the perfect item for teaching sleep responsibility to your little ones.

Now I want to hear from all of the parents out there — what sleep items do YOU recommend for adults?

 

 

Swaddles and Baby Sleep

Swaddles. Swaddling has been around since ancient times (more specifically, the Paleolithic era), so it makes sense that questions surrounding swaddling are ones I receive frequently. Is a swaddle a sleep prop? How do you feel about swaddles? Simply put, I love swaddles. I think they are great for newborns and can help calm your baby, which is conducive to sleep.

I'm asked all of the time about my stance on swaddles. Swaddling is great for newborns, but weaning an older baby from the swaddle can be difficult.

Physiologically, swaddling helps combat your baby’s Moro or startle reflex by keeping flailing arms and legs secured. With her arms and legs secured, your baby is less likely to wake herself from a sleep by startling.

If you’re worried about your baby overheating, I suggest just keeping an eye on your little one. If your baby is becoming sweaty, either loosen your swaddle or switch to a lighter blanket for swaddling – cotton muslin is a light, breathable fabric that is great for swaddling.

While I’m all for swaddling newborns, I must point out that swaddles can become sleep props (for both you and your baby). Your baby gets used to being wrapped and associates it with sleep, so when she kicks out of her swaddle, or loosens the wrap, she’ll likely wake and need you to come re-wrap her.

As your baby grows, her relationship with the swaddle becomes more complex – she thinks she needs to be swaddled to sleep, but hates having her arms and legs trapped at the same time (contradictory, I know – wait until she reaches toddlerhood!). As your baby begins to experiment with her movement, it will become increasingly difficult to keep her swaddled.

I suggest transitioning away from a swaddle by the third month. To begin transitioning, start by swaddling from the waist down, leaving the arms free. Try a nap without a swaddle. Bedtime is often the easiest time to start transitioning from the swaddle because your little one is typically the most tired at this time of day. If you’re feeling up to the challenge, try going swaddle free at bedtime.

I know of a mom who was still swaddling her eight-month-old, sewing together four receiving blankets so that they would have a large enough blanket to swaddle their baby. Not only is it unsafe to swaddle a baby who is rolling on her own, but using a swaddle at this age is definitely a sleep prop. If you’re in this situation, you really want to lose the swaddle by going “cold turkey.”

I won’t sugarcoat it – it will be difficult for you to wean your baby from the swaddle when you’ve been using it for so long. The swaddle is now a sleep prop for your baby, and he is going to protest when you put him to bed without being wrapped tightly. But, both you and your baby will be better off once you’ve removed the swaddle for sleep.

If you absolutely can’t lose the swaddle overnight, I suggest using a transition object – the Zipadeezip. The Zipadeezip can help your little one transition from being tightly wrapped by being a safe, enclosed sleep garment. The Zipadeezip resembles a swaddle, but is quite a bit looser, allowing arm and leg movement (almost like a body sleeping bag, but not quite a sleep sack). I recommend using this if you want to ease your baby from the swaddle more slowly.

In a nutshell, I’m all for swaddling up to three months of age, after that I suggest removing the swaddle (for both safety and sleep association purposes). If you’ve tried weaning your little one from her swaddle but are still having difficulty, please give me a call and we can work out a strategy together.

Fostering Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Baby

 Fostering healthy child or infant sleep habits is extremely important for their overall health and well being. The path to developing healthy soothing skills can start very shortly after birth and the best way to begin reinforcing these very important skills is the environment in which your baby learns how to sleep independently (with the help of some Rock Star self soothing skills).

Promoting healthy sleep for infants and small children has become my passion and goal for every family I come in contact with.  Including The Median Mommy!

Encouraging healthy sleep habits: The temperature of the room does matter!

Did you know that most little ones prefer to sleep in a room that is on the cool side rather than warm? Studies have shown that a too warm sleep environment can actually be very detrimental to infant sleep. Just like for most of us grownups, a too warm sleeping environment can make it very difficult for your child to go to sleep. It is also suggested that it may be one of the contributors to SIDS.

I recommend to all of my clients whether their child is a newborn or well into their preschool years to make sure their little one’s room temperature falls somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, the clothing your little one is dressed in for bed should be right along the same lines of what you would wear to bed. And a great addition to a baby or toddler’s bed is a baby sleep sack instead of a blanket (see last week’s post regarding my love for this wonderful invention). Remember cool and comfy and not warm and stuffy.Mistakes to Avoid When Feeding Your Newborn at Night

Encouraging healthy sleep habits: Although a bedding set is super cute, it can also be super dangerous.

I encourage all of my clients of infants to remove all items from their child’s crib that are non essential for safe and healthy sleep. This includes, crib quits, blankets, bumpers that are not breathable and see through as well as pillows and stuffed animals. Although a “Lovey” can be introduced around 7 months of age. All your baby needs in their crib for safe sleep is a mattress, sheet, secure swaddle (up until 3 months) or a sleep sack. That’s it!

Encouraging healthy sleep habits: The darker the better

A very dark room during all sleep periods (daytime naps included) actually helps your little one want to sleep. If the nursery or bedroom is too bright via natural sunlight streaming through an uncovered window or blinds, your little one will find it much harder to settle to sleep. As sunlight hits our skin and is absorbed, our body naturally releases chemicals to cue our bodies to be awake. The more we can do as parents to block light from getting in the room the better to stop this from happening.

Also, darkness is a fantastic clue or indicator that one should be sleeping and with help and consistency, your baby can begin to pick up on this clue. A dark room = sweet dreams for little ones if you want to get your baby to sleep through the night

Encouraging healthy baby sleep habits: White noise, the soothing static lulling your little one to sleep.

Using some sort of white noise in your baby or toddler’s room can help them sleep longer and more soundly by blocking out environmental noise. You would be surprised at how the slightest outside noise can arouse a baby in a light sleep state.

A favorite among many of my clients is a box fan or portable white noise machine. I’ve seen some pretty expensive models sold in baby stores but have to admit that if you can find one that is under $30.00 and can easily be taken with you on family vacations or overnight trips you’ll be all set. Oh and if it can also be battery operated…BONUS. You never know when you will lose power during a pretty noisy thunder storm.

In closing, if your little one is having trouble falling or staying asleep, please be sure you have evaluated their sleep space for the tips above and make adjustments where necessary. As always, I welcome your questions or comments concerning this week’s topic.

Jennifer Schindele is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and President and Founder of Gift of Sleep Consulting located in Philadelphia, PA.  Jennifer’s mission is to help parents give the gift of sleep to both their children and in turn, themselves. Her mission is executed by Jennifer Schindelepersonalizing a step-by-step program to gently help teach the child to independently fall asleep, and stay asleep, the whole night through (and nap peacefully during the day).  

 

How A Baby Sleep Sack Helps Your Little One

As many (if not all) of my clients will attest to, I am a huge fan of the sleep sack as a safe way to blanket your baby for their entire first year.

The Baby Sleep Sack – Swaddling

When a baby is first born, swaddling is recommended to help your child reach a peaceful slumber.  The reason why is that newborns begin life with a pretty strong Moro or startle reflex.  If you have ever witnessed an unswaddled newborn begin to fall asleep you often will notice that just as they are about to drift under their arms and sometimes entire body will suddenly jump.

That’s the Moro reflex and it’s causes the baby to feel like he or she are falling.  And usually ends with them waking up and crying.  To combat this, swaddling is a great recommendation and it reminds newborns of the womb.  But usually by about 3 months of age, a baby is past the Moro reflex stage and ready to have a bit more range of motion.  Actually, in many cases, babies will begin to fight against the swaddle to get more comfortable and end up waking themselves up.  And we definitely don’t want that to happen.   Enter the baby sleep sack.

Beyond being a safe alternative to a blanket for your little one a baby sleep sack can also be a great part of your nap and bedtime routines to let your little one know that sleep is near.  For both of my daughters and for many of my clients, we build it in as one of the last steps of the routines and it is still part of my youngest daughter’s bedtime routine and she will be 2 years old in a month.

And while we are on the topic of bedtime routines, here is a sample of a great bedtime routine for a baby’s first year:

  1. Bath
  2. Pajamas
  3. Nursing or bottle feeding
  4. Book
  5. Baby Sleep Sack
  6. Song and kisses goodnight
  7. Bed (night night…sleep tight)

Over the past 2 decades, the medical community has really campaigned for babies to be put to sleep on their back via “Back to Sleep” and I think it is fantastic.  This campaign is printed on every Halo Sleep Sack and some hospitals are beginning to use sleep sacks or the  baby sleep sack/swaddle hybrid in the nursery rather than the traditional swaddling blanket.  I am so happy to see this because even at the newborn stage, babies can break free of their swaddle (especially if it is not done properly) and quite possibly have their face become covered by the swaddling blanket.baby sleep sack

This happened to me when my oldest daughter was first born (and hated to be swaddled from the get go I might add) and I nearly had a heart attack.  Yes, a bit over dramatic, but I was an anxiety filled first time mom and we all remember how panicked we can get over anything at that stage.  From that moment on she was in a sleep sack and I never looked back.

They come in sizes ranging from Newborn up to XXL (18 – 24 months) as well as many options for patterns.  I also love that they come in different cloth types (cotton, fleece and velboa) to accommodate all sleeping climates.   During the winter, I would put my daughters in a long sleeved t-shirt and the fleece sleep sack for bed and during the early days before my babies were sleeping through the night the fact that it zippered from the top down allowed for easy and quick middle of the night diaper changes.

I honestly could go on forever about all the different reasons why I love the sleep sack, but in closing, I will say that knowing my littlest one is sleeping safely in her crib surrounded by a blanket that cannot come off.  Well, that gives me piece of mind.

Sweet Dreams!