By Rosie Hawley

Sleepless nights, up every hour, struggling to walk straight to take your crying baby out of their bassinet for the umpteenth time in the middle of the night….ENTER, the Rock-n-Play. Can you imagine life without your cell phone? That’s what I might compare how a sleep deprived mom feels about the Rock-n-Play. When my son was an infant and I didn’t know any better, it was the gift that kept on giving – giving me and my bub the gift of sleep, that is.

            As we all knew from the start, that wasn’t the purpose of the Rock-n-Play. Unfortunately, some parents who allowed their babies to sleep in this device were subject to the greatest tragedy imaginable – losing their child due to the unsafe nature of the Rock-n-Play for sleep. As heartbreaking as we know this is, the truth of the matter is that the Rock-n-Play was never classified as a safe sleeping space for infants. The first year of a baby’s life is an overwhelming, challenging period of time. Most parents are in survival mode, desperate for anything to get their baby to sleep; even allowing their infants to sleep in mechanisms that are seemingly safe but in reality, are not.

            With the recent recall of the Rock-n-Play, many parents are frantic and in panic mode desperately seeking out other ways/mechanisms to get their baby to sleep. The fact is this – the AAP has outlined very clear recommendations on safe sleep for infants; infants should sleep on a flat surface, whether crib or bassinet, with absolutely nothing else but the mattress even if that means that the crib or bassinet is in the parents’ bedroom. They make no mention of the Rock-n-Play as a safe sleeping space or any other baby device for that matter.

            The good news is that there are many ways to start establishing good sleep habits from the start – all exercises which allow your little one to practice sleeping in a safe space. For starters, many parents overlook the power of wake times. Every age during your child’s first 2 years of life has an associated wake-time. Following these wake times are a great way to avoid an overtired baby, which is ultimately the culprit of poor sleep and consistent waking. Another great way to get your little one to relax and unwind for a nap or bedtime is white noise. It’s a constant in the bedroom so not considered a sleep prop as there isn’t a need for parents to control it. The womb is actually quite noisy; studies have shown that noise in the womb can reach 90 decibels which is about the level of background noise in an apartment next to an elevated train! It also goes without saying that hiring a sleep specialist is a fool-proof way to begin practicing safe sleep habits and get your baby sleeping through the night (duh!).

            In short, there are many healthy sleep habits that you can start putting into practice from the start with your little one. The most important thing is that we’re diligent about getting our infants accustomed to sleeping on a flat surface, crib or bassinet, and never allowing them to sleep in an area that isn’t designated for safe infant sleeping. In a short while, you’ll see that you can achieve the same outcome that you desire in a safe sleeping space…so-long Rock-n-Play! Sleep is on the horizon!

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