How and Why to Use and Lose the Pacifier

The pacifier is one of those sleep aids that people tend to shy away from fearing their baby will become addicted to it and will end up a social pariah when they show up at the Senior Prom with their adult-sized binkie pinned to their lapel. But despite all the bad press pacifiers have gotten, pacifiers are a powerful tool that I encourage ALL parents of newborn babies to embrace, along with swaddling and white noise, WHENEVER their baby is sleeping. Pacifier use has many benefits including:

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  • Sucking on a pacifier while falling asleep has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. (Note: You don’t need to put it back if it falls out, the benefit comes from having it WHEN falling asleep, not necessarily after.)
  • Pacifiers are enormously soothing to babies and can when combined with other soothing techniques (notably swaddling and white noise) can significantly improve sleep and reduce crying.
  • Pacifiers can meet baby’s need to suck while giving Mom’s boobs a much deserved break (and give Dad a chance to step in). And despite previous beliefs about pacifier use undermining breastfeeding efforts, current research suggests pacifier use doesn’t negatively impact breast feeding and may even help.
  • Pacifier use leads to more saliva which is a natural antacid (especially useful for refluxing babies).

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Do you Need to Wean Off the Pacifier?

MAYBE.

Many babies can happily use the pacifier for months or even years. Dr. Karp suggests that babies should continue to use the pacifier for up to a year or longer. He also suggests that getting rid of the pacifier is no big deal. Which seems to contradict all the parents for whom the paci has become the bane of their existence.

So it seems that some proportion of babies will have no issues weaning the pacifier but the remaining babies will wake up screaming about the pacifier every 1-2 hours all night long until they are 3. Which means their parents will need to get up 4,380 times to reinsert the paci before their child a) outgrows it or b) figures out how to get it and replace it for themselves.

If you’re running into any of these issues then it’s time for the pacifier to go:
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  • Your whole life has devolved into paci hell. If the path between your bed and baby’s crib has become your own personal Trail of Tears as you shuffle back in every 45 minutes all night long to reinsert the paci.
  • Baby has chronic ear infections.
  • Baby is over two years old. There is some conflicting recommendations about dental care and pacifier use. But there does seem to be some evidence that consistent use of a pacifier past 2 can lead to tooth misalignment (although the real issues seem to happen when using a pacifier past 4). It’s also been linked to tooth decay.

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When to Lose the Pacifier?

The easiest time to stop using the pacifier is just before ~4-5 months of age. Babies don’t remember things exist at this point so out of sight is literally, out of mind. If you’ve been giving them lots of soothing sleep cues (swaddle, white noise, sleep routine), the loss of pacifier at 4 months may go virtually unnoticed.

HOWEVER

If you stop using the pacifier before 4 months you…
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  • Miss out on the SIDS protection provided by pacifier use at the time when the risk of SIDS peaks (the risk significantly decreases after 6 months).
  • Remove a powerful tool from your arsenal in successfully navigating the dreaded 4 month sleep regression.
  • For some particularly oral babies, even WITH all the great soothing you’ll continue to provide, you’ll see more night waking and shorter naps.

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Still for most of you, gradually weaning off the pacifier before your baby is 5-6 months old is probably the easiest and least error-prone option. I would encourage you to discuss this decision with your pediatrician to help weigh the potential advantages (ease of weaning) against the disadvantage (forgone reduction in SIDS risk). Babies at greater risk of SIDS (preemies, exposure to smoking, etc.) might be encouraged to continue to use the pacifier until their first birthday for safety purposes.

But what if you DIDN’T ditch the pacifier by 4 months? What if you’re now the parent of an 8 month old baby who screams as if in physical pain if the paci isn’t reinserted within 5 seconds after waking throughout the night?

It’s time to come up with and execute a paci weaning plan.

Weaning the Pacifier

There are two basic strategies to getting out of paci hell. But regardless of which strategy works for you, every parent who is working on ditching the pacifier should do ALL of the following:
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  1. Give your baby MANY sleep cues.

    If you’ve been popping in a paci then plunking baby in bed you’ve got a “not enough sleep cues” problem. When you remove the paci you’ve left….nothing! So before you lose the paci, make sure you’re giving your baby as many age-appropriate sleep aids as possible. At any age, this should include a consistent bedtime routine, loud white noise, and a dark room. For younger babies (under 6 months), also use a swaddle. For older babies/toddlers, a lovey.

  2. Cut down paci use during the day.

    Lots of babies simply exist WITH a pacifier. But if you’re ready to drop the pacifier at sleep time, it’ll go easier if you start with day time. Start with small windows of time and use lots of distraction (songs, play, go outside) to distract baby from the loss of beloved pacifier. Gradually increase those windows until there is little or no paci use during the day. (It’s OK to keep using the paci for particularly rough spots if you need it.)

  3. Market the lovey.

    Talk about the fairy who said good-bye to her paci but had a magic lovey who cuddled with her whenever she slept. Wear the lovey under your shirt so it smells like something wonderful (YOU!). Play with the lovey together.

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Two Methods to Quit the Paci

#1 – Go Cold Turkey

I love Ferber. His book isn’t fabulously entertaining but it’s a fantastic resource based in credible science. This is a direct quote from his book about how to loose the paci.
[pullquote type=”2″ ]Often, falling asleep just once or twice without the pacifier is enough for a child to master sleeping without it. If he is very sleepy at bedtime, the learning will be even easier, so starting with a later than usual bedtime for the first two nights will help. Sleeping without the pacifier should certainly be routine after one or two days.
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So simple, right? Honestly I don’t know what all the pacifier fuss is about. Just stop using it.

However if we squint a little, it should be clear that what Dr. Ferber is talking about here is CIO. And depending on how things are going, your baby’s age and temperament, and just how exhausted everybody is, this is definitely an option to consider. Or at least consider it as a fallback plan. But first you might want to have a go with….

#2 – The Pull Out Method

Of course if you were successful with this strategy you wouldn’t have a baby to begin with (badum-CHING!). Some of you may know this method as the Pantley Pull Out/Off. You do your normal soothing bedtime routine and put baby down in the crib with the paci. When baby’s sucking slows you gently break the seal and remove the pacifier BEFORE baby is fully asleep. If baby drifts off to sleep, it’s time to catch up on Survivor.

If not try to use minimal soothing to settle baby back down without the pacifier. Often jiggling the crib (so baby’s head jiggles lightly) or gently patting baby’s back like a tom tom are good non-invasive techniques. If your baby continues to fuss, reinsert the pacifier and repeat the removal process until baby falls asleep. This may take a while (hours) so it’s best to Tivo Survivor or you might miss out.

Repeat this process when your baby wakes up looking for you to provide your standard paci reinsertion services throughout the night.

The process should get easier with subsequent nights until eventually you don’t use the pacifier at bedtime at all. Some lucky parents will be done with this within a few days but don’t be surprised if you’re still at it for 10-14 nights. This technique requires consistency and patience. Just don’t give up and LEAVE the pacifier in baby’s mouth as this will undo all your hard work.

some babies love their pacifiersIf you feel it’s not getting you anywhere or your baby is just getting frustrated/angry with you and you’re ready to give up and just pop the pacifier back in, don’t feel bad. You aren’t the first parent who couldn’t make the “no cry” option work. There are many factors that feed into your ability to make “the pull out” work and most of them (baby’s temperament, level of attachment to the pacifier, sleep deprivation) are beyond your control. But it’s probably time to take Ferber’s advice and just. Stop.

So, anybody have any paci stories they care to share? Any super secret paci tricks that worked for you? Stories from the trenches?
{Photo Credit: Julie Chapa}

When CoSleeping Means NoSleeping

What percentage of families who co-sleep are happy about it? Put another way, how many made the conscious parenting decision to co-sleep BEFORE their baby was born? And how many weren’t able to get baby to sleep anywhere else and thus “decided” to co-sleep because they had no other option? I don’t actually have an answer. But I know that there are lots and lots families sleeping with babies in their bed who never wanted them in there and are worried about getting them out.

Not Everybody is Happy Co-Sleeping

A brilliant episode of Raising Hope recently dealt with co-sleeping and sleep training. And since baby sleep so rarely shows up in popular culture (babies and sleep have the sex appeal of a fax machine) I thought I should take this chance to pause and enjoy.

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Favorite Quote: “We always let him come into our bed. All the way to junior high school. The only good part was that I was never late for work again. Nothing motivates you to get out of bed like the sight of your 12-year-old son’s morning wood.”
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I live in Vermont which is the mecca for everything attachment/organic/hippy parenting: co-sleeping, nursing, cloth diapering, making your own baby food from local organic produce, etc. Don’t come to Vermont if the sight of a woman wearing hand-made hemp shoes, snacking on local artisan cheese, and proudly nursing her 5-year-old is a problem for you.

Vermont families like to co-sleep for life and I’ve met many parents who currently sleep with all of their children like one big pile of puppies. They’ll tell you about how their first child never wanted to sleep in the crib so they just decided to embrace it. I’ve never quite figured out how they managed to produce subsequent children in that bed full of kids (theory: the shower gets lots of action) but they do and they’re happy with it and thus so am I.

Sort of.

And so I close my blinds and whisper furtively as I admit that….I’m not a big fan of co-sleeping. In fact I’ve worked with many MANY families who are co-sleeping out of desperation. Who never wanted to do it in the first place. Who don’t know how to get out of it. Who may even feel a bit resentful about it.

Let me share with you some actual conversations I’ve had with parents over the past few weeks:

“Our baby started sleeping with us when he was 2 months old because it was the only way anybody was getting any sleep. Now he is 5 and he’s the only one happy about the current sleep arrangement.”

“My husband felt our baby should sleep with us. But I can’t sleep with him on the bed. So I’ve been sleeping on the living room couch for the past 8 months.”

When Co-Sleeping Keeps You From Sleeping
Co-Sleeping Doesn't Work for Everybody

“We put our baby to bed in his crib but when she wakes up at midnight the only way we can get her to go back to sleep is if we bring her into our bed. My husband can’t sleep with her so he moves into the guest room for the remainder of the night.”

“My 6 month old daughter can only sleep latched on to my breasts so she literally nurses all night long. My back is killing me and my nipples are sore, but what else can we do?”

Is Co-Sleeping Right For You?

I don’t know if co-sleeping is right for you. But I do know when it is WRONG for you. If you are thinking about bunking up with baby, first consider these simple rules for co-sleeping:
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  1. The vote must be unanimous.

    Everybody must be 100% supportive of co-sleeping. A single “no” vote means that it isn’t the answer for your family. Sleeping in the guest room/couch counts as a “no” vote.

  2. If it’s not safe, you don’t do it.

    Your bed may not be a safe place for your baby. If you aren’t prepared to make an honest appraisal of the risks of co-sleeping then it’s not for you. Are you or your partner obese (let’s face it, 34% of us are)? Is anybody taking prescription medication or drinking? Smoking? Was your baby born extremely premature? Is your bed a safe environment for an infant (hint: if there is a 90 lb dog also sleeping in your bed the answer is “no”)?

  3. Agree on the end-date before you start.

    Are you in it for a few weeks or do you expect your child to sleep with you when they get home from the prom?

  4. Have an exit strategy.

    Kitties get stuck because they climb the tree without thinking about getting back down.

  5. Nobody makes good decisions at 3 AM.

    Everybody – EVERYBODY – has that horrible night where they pull their newborn baby into bed out of simple desperation. It’s totally OK. However if you’ve made the long-term decision to co-sleep out of desperation in the middle of the night, it’s probably not the right decision. Big decision + desperation + 3 AM = bad decision.

  6. Everybody needs to get enough sleep.

    Sleeping like a pile of puppies is fine as long as everybody is actually sleeping.

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Still ready to go ahead with co-sleeping? Then pick up a copy of Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Co-Sleeping by James J McKenna, PhD. This is a very PRO co-sleeping book and I don’t agree with everything in it. There are some glaring omissions. Like the book never discusses how to get OUT of co-sleeping (perhaps the assumption is that you’re signing up for life?). However it does have a comprehensive chapter on co-sleeping safety which is the best I’ve found.

Over the next few months I’ll be writing more on:
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  • Co-sleeping and SIDS
  • When and how to stop co-sleeping
  • Co-sleeping and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP)
  • Problems solved and problems created by co-sleeping
  • Don’t judge the successful co-sleepers

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Don’t miss out – use the email subscription form to the right and they’ll be sent to your email inbox. Plus it makes my day when people sign up. So thanks in advance!

{photo credits: A.A and Karen Roe}

Why Babies Love White Noise

Babies love white noise. Let’s start with looking at it from baby’s perspective. They’ve just spent their entire life in the womb. And the womb is deafeningly loud. It is just slightly less loud than a lawnmower. Loud is normal to a baby. Life outside the womb is uncomfortably quiet. White noise sounds like “home” to a baby.

The Volume Inside the Womb
The Noise Level Your Baby is Used To

Why You Should Use White Noise with Babies?

Baby Sleeps Through the Night
White Noise Helps Baby Sleep Flickr@Kekka
All babies, ALL, should have loud white noise when they sleep all the time until they are at least 1. White noise is hands down the most effective, easiest to implement, inexpensive sleep aid for babies. It is also the sleep aid that parents most frequently DON’T use or they don’t use it CORRECTLY. I’ve had parents tell me they don’t want to use white noise because they are afraid their baby will become addicted. Or they don’t want to have to invest in a $70 white noise machine from the Sharper Image catalog. Or they think they are using white noise, but whatever device they are using barely makes enough noise to drown out a library whisper (yes I’m talking about you sleepy sheep – these don’t work, please don’t buy one).

White noise is hands-down the best and easiest thing you can use to help you and your baby sleep better.
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  1. White noise reduces stress in babies.

    What do babies get stressed about? Just about everything. They’re stressed when they’re over-tired, they’re stressed because their world is more stimulating than they’re ready to handle, they’re overwhelmed with lights, faces, and excitement. White noise creates a safe space for them by blocking out that stimulation.

  2. White noise helps babies sleep.

    They fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer. Babies have what are called “sleep arousals”, usually about every 20-45 minutes. Ever wonder why your baby only naps for 20 minutes at a time? Well it’s because when she hits her sleep arousal at the ~20 minute mark she is unable to fall back into deeper sleep and thus her nap is over. White noise helps babies gently navigate these arousals to get longer, more restorative naps. It also helps to block out the noise of life (older siblings, doorbells, garbage trucks, etc.) that can interfere with naps and night sleep.

  3. White noise helps babies cry less.

    Did you know that shushing is a sound that people universally understand and make with babies? Shushing is simply white noise that you make yourself. The key to using white noise (sushing or from a radio) to help calm a crying baby is that it needs to be LOUDER than the crying. Holding a screaming baby while shushing like a gentle librarian is useless. Your baby can’t hear the shushing over his own crying. You need to shush LOUDLY (sounds a bit ridiculous I know) so that the calming noise can penetrate above the crying. Also you may need to continue to shush for a while. Loud sustained shushing can be a challenge. If you’re starting to feel dizzy and/or see stars it’s time to outsource your shushing to an electric white noise device (radio, et al).

  4. White noise reduces the risk of SIDS.

    A relatively famous study (famous if you read a lot about baby sleep, so honestly you should be a little proud if you haven’t heard of it) showed that babies had a significant reduction in the risk of SIDS if they had a fan in their room. Nobody knows why the fan helps – it could be my moving the air around although many believe it has to do with the white noise the fan makes. We DO know that white noise reduces active sleep (which is the sleep state where SIDS is most likely to occur).

  5. White noise will help YOU sleep.

    Parents notoriously wake up every time the baby grunts or gurgles (and babies are NOISY CREATURES). Newborn swings can also be quite noisy, especially when they’re banging away mere inches from your bed. White noise will help mask these small noises so you and your partner can sleep better.

  6. White noise is easy to wean off of.

    When your baby is older (generally after their 1st birthday) you can gradually start to decrease the volume of the white noise. If they continue to sleep well, you’re done. If they wake up more frequently then they used to turn the white noise back on.

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How to Use White Noise?

White Noise from Boom Box Radio
Boom Box for Baby Flicker@istopcrappics
You don’t need to buy ANYTHING – no sleepy sheep, no Sharper Image white noise generators, no mystical baby white noise CDs. Any old boom box, stereo, or alarm clock will work. In fact you can probably use the alarm clock in your your bedroom. You have a baby now, you no longer NEED an alarm clock. Simply set it to static (if you have a hard time finding a good static station on the FM dial, try searching on AM), turn up the volume, and you are all set. Put your radio where the baby primarily sleeps (probably your room). When the baby moves into his/her room, the white noise device goes too.

Turn the volume up to roughly 50 db (approximately the volume of somebody taking a shower if you are standing in the bathroom). It should definitely be louder than you think. It shouldn’t be UNCOMFORTABLY loud (if it bothers YOU, it’s probably too loud). Leave the white noise on whenever your baby will be sleeping. Whatever you are using to make white noise should be continuous. Any CD or Sleepy Sheeps (have I mentioned my loathing of these things?) won’t work well because they will TURN OFF at some point.  While this may not cause problems for newborn babies (under 3-6 months) eventually you will find yourself with a child who wakes up crying every 45 minutes when the Sleepy Sheep turns off.

If you have a particularly fussy baby or are looking for ways to survive the dreaded witching hours, you may want to bring your white noise maker out into living room (or wherever you like to grind through the fussy part of the day) to help create a calming environment for your fussy baby. Simply move the radio back to the bedroom when it’s time to sleep.

How to Swaddle Your Baby – Tips and Tricks

How Not to Swaddle
Don't Do This at Home Folks!

Every family I’ve ever worked with has bought a few swaddling blankets, learned about swaddling (most new baby books cover this nicely), and maybe even taken a newborn baby care class that covered baby swaddling. And this is BEFORE they actually give birth! Given that most of you have probably read one or five newborn care baby books and that the internet is awash in “how to swaddle your baby” articles I’m going to focus on what you probably DON’T know.

How to Swaddle Your Baby

You’ve done it correctly when they don’t pop out. Also, if you’re attaching them to a board of some sort (see pictured), please stop. We now know this can lead to hip dysplasia although I’ve never ever seen a parent do anything remotely like this and am assuming that you are not part of a nomadic tribe and thus won’t be strapping your swaddled child to your back for 14 hours a day.

Dr. Karp (Happiest Baby) suggests the “dudu” or down-up down-up method which does work well. If you’re interested Karp provides a nice PDF that walks through this method.

I’m also including two videos here that provide a nice visual of swaddling a newborn baby. I particularly like these because they show that MOST babies DO complain when being swaddled. Newborn babies especially dislike being placed on their back and will let you know it. So when you go to swaddle your (tired, hungry, gassy, cranky) baby they will fuss and complain about it.

Bottom Line: Whatever method of baby origami you prefer is fine as long as it works. If their arms are popping out or they are able to push the blanket up over their heads then it DOESN’T work and you need to find another method.

Baby Swaddling for Dummies

If you’re struggling with the baby origami I recommend you try one of the various velcro (or swaddling for dummies) alternatives. Frankly I love these and don’t understand why anybody would struggle with baby wrapping when there are nice inexpensive alternatives for exhausted brain-dead parents who have better things (like eating, sleeping, or maybe the occasional shower) to do with their time.

There are many good swaddle-for-dummy products but my top pics are:

  • Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe
  • Pros: Cheap and easy. You can leave their little feet OUT of the bottom of the swaddle blanket (recommended) for sleeping in swings, car seats, and for when its hot outside.

Cons: The velcro does seem to wear out with washing so if you find your little one popping out its time to buy a new one. It also helps if you wash them infrequently (only run them through when you really need to). Also they run LARGE – I can swaddle even a 20 lb baby in the small size blanket. Their large size swaddle blanket would be appropriate for a 10-year-old. Or maybe a golden retriever.

Pros: The Sleepsack is a great way to keep baby warm when they are too young (under 2 years old) for blankets. Also features velcro for the swaddling challenged among us.

Cons: You can’t use the sleepsack WITHOUT their feet being IN the sack. Thus it is impossible to use a sleepack in a swing, car seat, etc. As most babies sleep far better in the swing, this is a very limiting feature.

Pros: Even the most talented baby Houdinis seem stymied by the miracle blanket. Unlike most, the miracle blanket doesn’t use velcro and instead wraps repeatedly around their body making it almost impossible for arms to escape.

Cons: Like the Sleepsack, the miracle blanket doesn’t work well with their legs out. Also getting the miracle blanket on is a bit more involved than the simpler SwaddleMe option so if your baby gets REALLY angry at you when you swaddle them, you might want to hold off on a Miracle Blanket. Also it is a lot of fabric which can lead to overheating in the summer.

Swaddling Troubleshooting

Baby Hates the Swaddle

Every baby I (or the fantastic team I work with) have worked with has responded well to being swaddled even if they protested viciously at the point of actually BEING swaddled. When I met with Dr. Karp of Happiest Baby fame I asked him explicitly if there were just some babies who really shouldn’t be swaddled because they hated it. His answer was brief. “No – swaddling is almost universally good for babies.” Babies fight the swaddle but still are more readily soothed and sleep better when swaddled.

But if your heart of hearts screams at you that swaddling just isn’t right for your baby, then you need to go with that. But I would suggest you approach swaddling from the perspective of, “prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that this isn’t working.” Don’t swaddle a cranky baby 2-3 times and then shrug it off if it doesn’t seem to work as promised. It can be a very powerful tool to reduce crying and improve sleep and you don’t want to readily remove that sort of heavy artillery from your arsenal.

Swaddling Houdini Babies

You’ve just rocked your little one to sleep and are already savoring the delivery pizza on its way to your door and the promise the hot bath to follow, when the swaddle pops open and your beloved little angle and screaming at you. It’s a horrible feeling and we’ve all been there.

Keeping a squirmy baby swaddled securely is a real challenge. My first suggestion is to make sure that the arms are flush at the sides of their body. If the elbow is bent or they have wiggle room in there, they’re going to break free (or ineffectually fight the swaddle which defeats the purpose of using it in the first place).

Assuming you already have that down, my second suggestion is to let the legs out. Baby’s legs don’t need to be swaddled, there is no benefit to it (other than warmth which can be addressed other ways). Having the legs out also enables you to put a swaddled baby in a car seat and more importantly, swaddle babies safely in the swing. But as it relates to Houdini babies, keeping the legs unswaddled removes the ability for kicking feet to dislodge, loosen, etc. the swaddling blanket. Even little baby legs can do a lot to mess up a quality baby wrap so and keeping the legs out of the swaddle removes this as an issue.

If you’re struggling with blankets you should definitely check out one (all?) of the swaddling-for-dummy options listed above. Velcro is less subject to user error and generally is pretty Houdini-proof. If even a new SwaddleMe blanket is insufficient to the task you may need to upgrade to a Miracle Blanket (although this is not an option for swing sleepers). If none of the commercial-grade products work for your extra clever baby you could discuss some off-label products with your pediatrician. Mine suggested we wrap ours up with ace bandages. You would be surprised with what sort of clever ideas those pediatricians have in their back pocket. After all, it’s not their first trip to the dance.

If your Houdini is slightly older (at least 4 months old) you could also try swaddling their body but leaving one or both arms free. Some babies respond really well to one arm in, which is still very soothing but removes 50% of their power to break free. Also for older babies who may have realized that hands make great sucking/chewing devices, this leave them free to do so (which is ALSO enormously soothing). Yes even having just the body swaddled with both arms out can be very soothing to slightly older babies.

Saying Sayonara to the Swaddle

Most babies need to be swaddled when they are upset or sleeping until they are at least 4  months of age. Some will need to be swaddled for as much as a year but most are done between 4-6 months. There is no issue of “weaning them off” the swaddle. You simply test the waters now and then to see if they are done. If they’re not done, they’re not. Wait a few weeks and then test again.

The swaddle test is simply this – pop an arm out when they go down to sleep and see what happens. If your 2 hour napper wakes up 30 minutes later, you’re not done. If however the nap proceeds without issue, stick with one arm out for a few days. Then test swaddling with both arms out (so his body is swaddled but both arms are free). If this also has no negative effect on sleeping than congratulations – you’re all done! Although don’t donate them to the pregnant neighbor yet, teething, sleep regressions, etc. can all have you scattering back for that swaddle. So give yourself a good month or two buffer to be sure that you’re REALLY done.

Swaddled Baby Flips Over

[pullquote type=”2″] Swaddling is ONLY for babies sleeping on their backs. Never EVER put a swaddled baby down on their stomachs. Once your baby is capable of flipping over from their back to their stomach while swaddled you are DONE with the swaddle. This is non-negotiable. Absolutely no swaddled babies on their stomach for any reason. Ever. [/pullquote]

Luckily this is unlikely to happen unless your baby is older than 6 months as flipping while swaddled requires some significant gross motor skill development. Thus it is likely that your baby will be done with the swaddle before this happens.

Got any other magic swaddle tips to share with other tired parents?

Where Will Your Newborn Baby Sleep?

Delightful Room for New Baby
Ready, Set, Go - New Bedroom for New Baby

There are few things more fun for a new Mom (or even experienced Moms) than decorating the new baby’s room. We coordinate colors and stack diapers while quietly fantasizing about the sweet moments when we’ll gently lay our beloved newborn into her crib and silently creep out of the room to enjoy a healthy gourmet meal with our partner while discussing world events. Ah….its a wonderful time isn’t it?

Well chances are your precious tot will spend very little time in that lovely new room for far longer than you expect.

When Will Baby Sleep in Their Bed?

The reality is that your newborn is unlikely to sleep inside the the charming crib that you spent an entire day assembling until she is 6 months or older. Further your newborn should and probably will be sleeping with you IN YOUR ROOM for about the first 6 months.

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This is called co-rooming which simply implies that the baby is somewhere within your bedroom. This is different from co-sleeping which means that the baby is actually IN your bed.
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There are a number of compelling reasons for your baby to stay in your room for the first 6 months:

  • Safety. Numerous health organizations (such as the American Academy of PediatricsSIDS Alliance and NIH) suggest that the safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room with you.
  • Convenience. Regardless of your choice to breastfeed, bottlefeed, or something in-between, your newborn is going to be eating anywhere from 2-6 times a night for months. Schlepping around the house at 3:00 AM is unappealing to even the most devoted night owls.
  • Oversight. If you are like most new parents you will need to compulsively check on your newborn baby for many months. This will include waking up every time they make a noise (note: newborns make a LOT of noise), checking their toes to make sure they aren’t cold, and of course – making sure they are still breathing. Its not just you – we all do this.
Co-rooming with Mom and Kitty
Everybody Sleeps in the Same Room

Accepting this reality far simplifies the process of sleep parenting for the first few months. It removes any pressure to try to shoehorn baby into their room for a while. And it frees you to look at your bedroom and make changes that will help both you AND baby sleep safely and comfortably for the first few months. So take a few minutes out of your room decorating fun and think about what might make you both more comfortable in YOUR room. Consider things like block-out blinds, white noise generator, and of course a safe-sleep option that fits comfortably next to your bed, that you will undoubtedly use in the coming months.