Calm, Close & Swaddled – Sleep Time Made Easy
I have a deep dark secret, one that I only feel safe to reveal now. My babies were great sleepers. I’ve had other struggles in my parenthood journey, but sleeping has not been one of them. “Six hours at six weeks,” I used to confide to my husband and only him, “practically unheard of.” But when it came to going to my weekly new mommy group, I knew showing up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed was not the way to make friends. And so, I hid my secret, quietly empathizing with the other moms’ plights, some of them were so lacking in sleep, my heart ached for them. They would hungrily gather to share sleep and soothing techniques while I sat quietly. I liken getting a good sleeper to winning the lottery–it’s not really information that’s comfortable sharing, and it’s impossible to answer questions like “how’d you do it?” But for what it’s worth now, I will tell you what I think my winning strategy was. I was calm, I kept my new babies close, and I swaddled.
I learned the Art of Zen:
Okay, maybe I was calm because my babies were non-fussy, easy sleepers. But then again, maybe my babies were non-fussy, easy sleepers because I was calm. Likely both. Relationships are circular right out of the womb. I learned this early when nursing didn’t come easily to us in the first few days–I could see clearly how my baby’s frustration made me get hot, flustered, and clamped up, which in turn made her more frustrated and anxious. Once I relaxed, truly relaxed, things improved immensely. I hear you…maintaining Zen when you have a brand-new human to take care of but no manual, and they’re not eating or sleeping, and you’re not sleeping, is probably the hardest thing you will ever try to learn. But I guarantee it’s effective.
I kept my babies close:
As much as I wanted my new baby to enjoy the swagged out nursery we’d prepared, as soon as she landed on earth, I just wanted her close. Not only did it feel safer, but I soon realized the less disruption made at feeding time, the more zzz’s we’d both get. I wasn’t prepared for this so our baby slept in a basket on a card table next to me, and I’d bring her into bed and nurse lying down. She’d nurse, fall asleep, and I’d put her back in the basket. As much as I would have loved for her to stay cuddled next to me after feeding, I didn’t feel comfortable with her in the bed with us. I would have loved the HALO Bassinet Swivel Sleeper because we could have been separate but together if you know what I mean. It allows your baby to be right next to you, adjusting to just the right level and angle for your bed, but safe in their own little space. When it’s time to nurse, there’s no getting out of bed, you just lower the side wall to bring your baby close to you. Plus, major score, it’s got storage for all your baby essentials so you still don’t need to get up to manage a nighttime diaper change.
Although I’d read about swaddling, it wasn’t until my mom visited in those first few teary days that I became a believer. A former nurse, my mom, I discovered, is the Swaddle Whisperer. She, for lack of a better term, “manhandled” my fussy baby into a tight little sleepy package as I watched in amazement. Such confidence and strength in her hands, yet absolute gentleness. My baby lapped it up, cooing herself to sleep, even more so when my mom rolled her slightly over on her lap and rubbed and tapped her back, not gently as I imagined a small baby would prefer, but strongly. It was in that moment I realized babies like strong, constant contact, again a womb-thing I presume, where everything is tight, secure, and feels safe. Plus, being tightly swaddled prevents newborn babies from startling themselves awake with random arm movements. If swaddling with a regular blanket proves as difficult for you as rolling a spring roll and you don’t have a veteran nurse at your disposal, try the HALO SleepSack Swaddle. It takes the guesswork out of swaddling and is safer than a loose blanket. It’s the only 3-way adjustable swaddle that adjusts to your baby’s sleep style (both arms in, one arm in, hands-to-face) and transitions to a sleep sack when it’s time to stop swaddling.
There you have it, finally, my secret is out, and you have my tips on how I think I won the sleeping baby lottery.
Written by Kate MacDougall
Kate MacDougall is a freelance marketing consultant and writer. She is a perfectly imperfect mother, paddle boarder, and gardener, figuring out her own style as she goes with equal measures of intuition and advice. She is forever planning her next adventure.
HALO Innovations, Inc. is dedicated to creating a healthier and safer sleeping environment for adults and children. Today, the HALO SleepSack wearable blanket is the #1 trusted choice of hospitals nationwide and a percentage of all sales are donated to First Candle/SIDS Alliance and the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths to fund ongoing SIDS research, education and family support.