I remember bringing our first born, Jude, home from the hospital. My wife and I were prepared for him, or so we thought. We had spent weeks planning what was going to be in his room and where everything was going to go. We even bought a video baby monitor. Although the camera was a great purchase, we were a little over prepared when we set-up both cameras right away. We pointed both cameras at the crib from different angles (because you know, newborn babies move all over the crib).
None of this mattered once we brought him home. It was apparent from the first night that babies do not sleep through the night. There was no way we were going to place him in a separate room right away. The thought of my wife having to get up multiple times throughout the night and make the trek down the hallway to his room was not an option that appealed to her at all. We ended up placing a pack-n-play in the corner of our bedroom. We thought this would be the solution to our problem. This way my wife wouldn’t have to leave our room to feed him.
We soon found out that our backup plan stunk, too. Not only was Jude not sleeping, but I wasn’t sleeping either (queue the violin). After 3 weeks of our son only getting 20 to 30 minutes of sleep at a time, we were desperate to find a better solution. The pack-n-play proved to be too big for him. He wasn’t able to nestle in and get comfortable – and feel secure. From that point, he spent some nights in his car seat. If he couldn’t get to sleep, we would all pack up and get into the car and go for a drive around town in the middle of the night. As effective as this was for getting him to sleep, it was not convenient or sustainable. We were looking for a more practical and long-term solution. We were also worried about his breathing getting constricted by being scrunched upright in a car seat for most the night.
From the car seat, we tried using a baby bouncer. It was small, cozy, and vibrated which I thought would emulate the car seat while on a drive. After a few nights with no results, we working looking for Plan D.
Eventually, my wife and I switched over to a swing. Jude seemed to like this. I assume it made him feel cozy like the car seat with a little built-in motion. We liked this, too, because we didn’t have to leave the house in the middle of the night to go for a drive. The one downfall to the swing we had at the time was that is was battery operated. The batteries would last about 2 to 3 nights and then needed to be replaced. Cha-Ching! After going through a few packs of batteries after a few weeks, we ended up purchasing a swing that plugged into the wall. Hallelujah! This proved to be our best option to date. Not only did it save us on batteries, but it also allowed our son to sleep which allowed my wife and me to sleep.
When we were pregnant with our second child, Adelaide, we decided to try another avenue instead of the swing. My wife talked with a few of her friends who currently had children under the age of one. They suggested both a Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and also a regular bassinet. While my wife’s friends loved the Rock ‘n Play, some found it hard to transition their babies to a crib. The reason is due to the slight incline that the Rock ‘n Play has. While babies seem to love the incline, they also seem to have a harder time transitioning to the flat surface of a crib. Trying to avoid this transition issue, my wife and I decided on purchasing a regular bassinet. The great thing about the bassinet was that it was small enough to fit between my wife’s side of the bed and the wall and that it was within arm’s reach of where my wife slept. It also had mesh siding all the way around, so we didn’t have to worry about her accidentally getting stuck on the side of the bassinet and not being able to breathe.
When Adelaide was born, we ended up placing her in the bassinet we purchased. After a week of sleepless nights, we reverted back to the swing we used for our son, Jude. Ever since we made the switch, our daughter has slept better which in turn makes us sleep better. Although the swing is reclined back, it still has a slight incline to it.
The Sleepsack is basically a wearable blanket that also swaddles your infant. We have used these with both of our children: total lifesavers. We were introduced to the sleepsacks at the hospital where our son was born. They have proved to help keep our babies warm and give them the proper swaddle at night without the fear of loose material restricting their breathing. To us, buying a sleepsack was more reassuring than using a blanket to swaddle. While we were taught how to swaddle our children with a blanket at the hospital, we did not like the fact the swaddle, at times, would work loose and didn’t want to run the risk of the loose fabric touching our children’s faces.
The Sleepsuit, which by the way, makes my daughter look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, is used for transition from the Sleepsack at around the age of 3 months. It provides the cozy comfort feeling that babies like while they are being transitioned into a larger/permanent crib.
My wife and I were unaware of the Sleepsuit with our son, but we were introduced to it by a family friend when our daughter was born. The results have been positive for the most part. With swaddling, you can tuck both arms within the Sleepsack for that secure feeling. However, once your child can roll over it is unsafe to have their arms tucked in the Sleepsack. With the Sleepsuit, the baby’s arms are free so they can roll from front to back or back to front on their own while still giving the effect of being swaddled like a Sleepsack.
While our daughter has transitioned to her crib, we do switch back and forth between the Sleepsack and Sleepsuit. If we use the Sleepsack, we just swaddle her with her arms free. In the summertime, the sleepsuit has been a little too warm to sleep in all night.
My wife, Anna, and I try not to put any unnecessary pressure on ourselves. I emphasize “try.” A routine is important for us and for our children, and so is safe sleep. But, most importantly, Jude and Adelaide need parents who are not stressed. It’s a work in progress.