Yesterday's recall announcement spread like wildfire through the various mom groups and spurred some strong reactions. Many, many moms really love the Rock N Play and others pledged to continue using it - which is their choice as parents - but they should be doing so with the understanding that they are taking a calculated risk. One misconception that I saw over and over again is that the problems were restricted to cases where the baby was too big or was not restrained properly. That is not the case. There were many instances of babies dying in Rock N Plays when they were used properly. The risks include a possible link to increased incidences of plagiocephaly and torticollis, and it has also been proven that inclined sleep surfaces do NOT help with acid reflux as was previously believed.*
The Survivor Bias game in the FB comment threads that I saw is strong. The fact is that millions of families have used these without incident, and the risk associated with them might be a comfortable level for some parents - but just because your child was okay does NOT make the product safe, nor does it mean using it does not carry risks.
I get it; my son was a terrible sleeper. He had colic and acid reflux and literally slept in 20 minute spurts separated by hours of screaming. For MONTHS. I was so tired I was hallucinating during the day. The Rock N Play was not an option when he was a newborn, but if it had existed and it would have helped him sleep, I would have tried it. I would have tried ANYTHING. Getting through that period of sleep deprivation is HARD, even when your baby does sleep a bit better than that, and it is tempting to use *anything* that will make it easier, but please, please use caution when evaluating if something is worth the risk.
Need sleep? Not going to lie: it is a challenge. Some babies sleep better than others. Here are a few tips to try to make it somewhat easier:
Try a swaddle. I have frequently had families tell me that their baby does not like being swaddled, and then done an overnight shift to find that is not the case at all! Many babies do not like loose swaddles so make sure it is snug and secure. Once your baby is 8-12 weeks OR shows signs of rolling, swaddling is no longer safe. At that point some families have found Merlin's Magic Sleep Suits or Zipadee Zips to be helpful.
Use white noise. I have a white noise track on my phone that my iTunes must believe is my favorite song - I play it ALL the time to help soothe! If you have an Amazon Echo, ask Alexa to play white noise. Pink noise or brown noise will work too if you find the white noise frequency irritating,
Try preheating the sleep space. During the last feeding, put a heating pad in the crib or bassinet, and then remove when putting baby in. (Make sure it is not too hot!)
Elevate the knees. Laying flat on the back opens the hips and straightens the lower back in a way that sleeping on an incline or curled up in a ball on your chest does not and some babies find it to be uncomfortable. Roll a receiving blanket and put it under baby's knees to help alleviate that pulling on their back. (This would be adding something to the sleep environment and should be only used with supervision.)
Get help! It is SO hard when baby is not sleeping and the temptation to use unsafe hacks to troubleshoot is completely understandable. Trade off nights with your partner, enlist local family to come over and help, get rest during the day, and/or hire a postpartum doula! (Psst, did you know I offer overnights?)
Set realistic goals and be consistent. Your 2 week old is unlikely to sleep through the night - and that is biologically normative! Babies spend more time in a lighter sleep state as a SIDS preventative, and they must wake frequently to feed because their stomachs are small and they are growing so fast. Continue to practice safe sleep practices and everyone will get more rest soon. Some of the products on the market just delay the transition process; eventually the baby has to learn to sleep without being shushed and shaken! Others are potentially dangerous and could restrict baby's breathing. Unfortunately there is no magic FastPass to great sleep, but with time and consistency, it will come!
*Some background and evidence on the problems with the Rock N Play:
If you have a Rock and Play and would like a refund, visit Mattel's recall page for more information.