Nicole Cassey is the founder and owner of Bubbaroo, a one stop shop for children’s sleepwear needs for ages from 0 to 6 years old. Here she shares her story about her first born and how to help babies get the sleep they need in the safest possible way.
When my first born Jacob arrived, I had no idea what to expect. I had read truck loads of information on pregnancy and birth but not a lot on baby sleep. The arrival of a new baby will change your perception of baby sleep forever more.
The arrival and challenges I faced with Jacob inspired me to create Bubbaroo and Australia’s first swaddle product. I have been in the baby industry for some 13+ years, I’ve met thousands of new parents and collaborated with many health care professionals during this time. Sleep is the number one concern for new parents. Therefore, I would like to share with you some tried and tested methods to help you get your little one on track with their sleep.
Your number one priority for baby’s sleep should always be safety. You should always take the time to consider if something is safe, whether it’s choosing products or making decisions about your baby’s sleep arrangements. Here at Bubbaroo, we are committed to communicating the Red Nose (formerly SIDSandKids) safe sleeping recommendations to parents, grandparents and carers.
Red Nose Safe Baby Sleep Recommendations
Tips from Red Nose to reduce your risks:
– Place your child on their back to sleep. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot or bassinet in a room with you for the first 6 to 12 months.
-Do not smoke while you’re pregnant or after your baby is born, and do not let anyone else smoke in the same room as your baby.
-Red Nose recommends sleeping a baby in a cot next to the parent’s bed for the first 6-12 months of life.
-Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or an armchair.
-Do not let your baby overheat.
-Keep your baby’s head uncovered.
I personally ensure all of Bubbaroo’s designs, zips, fabrics and all other materials adhere to our vision of premium safety, quality, workmanship and functionality. All our products comply with relevant Australian and European safety standards and are personally quality controlled by me together with an independent third party testing agency.
We think it’s important to treat the early days of your baby’s life as an extension of the third trimester in the womb. Your baby has emerged from a dark and warm environment where they were constantly rocked in utero and comforted by the sound of your heartbeat. Contrast that to the big wide world that they are born into, full of new stimuli and experiences that baby must become accustomed to. Babies only cry because they are hungry, cold, tired or in pain – in utero these things weren’t an issue. So our job as parents is to meet the needs of the baby by cuddling, rocking, swaddling, feeding, bonding and generally seeing to their every need.
Don’t worry that you are spoiling your baby at this stage. You need to offer them the reassurance that their needs are being met and over time this reliance on you will diminish as they adjust to their life beyond the Fourth Trimester.
Night & Day
When your baby is first born they don’t know the difference between night and day. When the baby is a few weeks old you can start to introduce them to the difference between night and day. During the night you could keep the lights dimmed and keep it very calm, talking in a soft voice. During the day the house noise should be kept as normal as possible and the room not quite so dark. You can change your baby’s clothes in the morning to show him that it is the start of a new day. When the baby is awake you can talk to your baby, play and have some tummy time. Feeding can also be a time to chat so that baby doesn’t nod off in the middle of a feed.
Generations of parents have swaddled their babies to simulate the coziness and comfort the baby felt in the mother’s womb. Research has shown that swaddling babies assist better quality sleep in the first few months. Swaddling can also help babies to remain on their backs when sleeping (back sleeping is recommended until baby can roll).
In addition to safe sleep recommendations, it’s important that swaddling is done correctly because incorrect swaddling can be harmful. If the baby is wrapped too tightly the natural movement of the arms and legs, and possibly lung expansion is restricted. In addition, if a baby’s legs are forced straight, they are at risk of developing hip dysplasia due to the lack of natural joint and bone movement through the hips and pelvis.
The Joey Pouch Swaddle
My son Jacob was the master of escaping his swaddles so that’s why I invented the Joey Pouch Swaddle Wrap. Jacob could get out of the swaddle and then wake himself with his strong startle reflex. Our Joey Pouch is designed to help baby adjust to life outside the womb gently and calmly. The Joey Pouch Swaddle is made from light-weight, breathable 100% cotton waffle fabric, keeping baby covered but not at risk of overheating. Babies wrapped in the Joey Pouch Swaddle can still move their arms and hands and self-soothe by sucking on their fingers and hands through the swaddle if they wish. Arms are not pinned or forced in any fixed position.
Transitioning Your Baby Out of Swaddling
In time, your baby will need to be transitioned out of the swaddle and adjust to a different environment. I know how scary this can be – losing the swaddle that helped save your sanity in the first few months of life!
There are several signs that you may need to stop swaddling your baby:
-Rolling from back to tummy. This means you need to stop swaddling your baby as it’s no longer safe.
-The quality of your baby’s sleep is deteriorating. Your baby may be moving around more in their sleep or is becoming aware of their body. They may want to suck on their thumb or hold their dummy and therefore need to get to their arms out to do this.
-Your baby prefers to be out of the swaddle and can escape because they’re getting stronger. Maybe your baby likes having her arms out.
-The startle reflex also known as the Moro Reflex starts to settle down as your baby grows, usually around 4 months of age.
Maybe all of the above apply to you or you just feel like it’s time to move on. You will know when it is time. If your baby is not handling the transition well and is still not rolling over, then perhaps your baby is not quite ready. Keep an eye on things and maybe swaddle for a couple more weeks.
Our Joey Pod Transitional Swaddle bags are the next stage for baby’s sleep and can be used in 3 ways. First, as a swaddle, then one arm in one arm out whilst transitioning or with both arms out like a baby sleeping bag. So you could transition to the Joey Pod as a swaddle before transitioning to one arm out. Then have one arm out and then finally both arms out and use as a baby sleeping bag.
You can also take the cold turkey approach and transition straight to Joey Swag baby sleeping.
Baby Sleep Routines
One of the best things you can do for your baby and yourself is to establish a form of bedtime routine or ritual. It’s never too early to introduce your baby to a bedtime routine. If you start when the baby is very little, it will help establish good patterns for their future years.
Since babies and children don’t understand the concept of time, we need to help them understand the order of events by which their world is measured. They need to know what is going to happen next. Young children like predictability and therefore will be easier to manage and settle when they know what the routine involves.
The Bubbaroo Baby Sleep Routine
When you first introduce the bedtime routine to your baby it might take a little while to get into the sequence of each event but before long it will feel like the new normal. We recommend that you start the evening routine after the dinner time meal:
– if your baby is eating meals, make sure you serve dinner early enough to allow time for a leisurely meal. This makes it pleasant for you and your baby and will give your child a chance to eat really well before their overnight sleep.
-next offer baby a nice, warm relaxing bath. Most babies love their bath time and it becomes an important cue that it will soon be bedtime.
-after the bath you can offer your baby some milk as a top up feed. Just to make sure they are fully fed and hydrated before bedtime. Alternatively, you may offer water if your little one no longer needs a top up feed.
-give your baby some time to wind down (i.e. no loud stimulation or toys/devices)
-pop your baby into their Bubbaroo Joey Swag Baby Sleeping Bag, Joey Pod Transitional Swaddle Bag, Joey Pouch Swaddle Wrap – this will help give your little one the cue that it will be sleep time soon.
-read a bedtime story with your baby as this is a particularly calm activity.
-turn out the lights and give baby a little cuddle. You can then place your baby into their cot or bassinet slightly drowsy but not fully asleep. It’s important at some stage when you and your baby are ready for baby to learn to self settle. Bear in mind that this will take some practice
Getting the Temperature Right
The one question we get asked time and time again – “is my baby too hot or too cold for sleep?”. Getting your baby’s temperature right for bed is important to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep.
Firstly we recommend that you dress your baby for the coldest part of the night. All of our Bubbaroo products come with a what to wear guide. At a glance, you can tell which TOG baby sleep bag or swaddle and how many layers to dress baby in! Bubbaroo takes the guess work out of dressing your baby for sleep.
The next step is to feel baby’s temperature when fully dressed. Your first instinct may be to feel your baby’s hands and feet but this is not a good way to tell if your baby is too cold or too hot. Babies have a high body-surface to weight ratio and your baby’s hands and feet are often exposed as such they normally will feel cold! If your baby’s hands and feet are cold, this does not necessarily mean that your baby is too cold! You’re interested in checking your baby’s core temperature. The best way to check your baby’s temperature is to feel their chest or stomach and back in older children. Baby’s chest or stomach should feel warm. If the baby is sweating this is a definite sign they’re too hot and some layers need to be removed.
The benefit of dressing baby in a baby sleeping bag is that you eliminate blankets and extra room heating. Bubbaroo products are 100% natural and breathable to ensure safe sleep for your baby.
Changes to Baby Sleep Patterns
Remember that baby’s sleep habits can and will change often. Sometimes baby’s sleep will regress due to a growth spurt or teething or illness. A sleep regression is a sign that your baby is certainly developing in a positive way. Babies wake more when they are trying to learn a new skill…it might be learning to roll, crawl, walk, talk etc. Think of it as a positive, not a negative. A lot happens in the first year of life so there will be times when baby adjusts his own routine. Your baby may sleep more or less, eat more or be a bit fussier than normal. You will also need to adjust the routine as your baby grows. Baby will start to be awake for longer and go to bed slightly later.
It’s always comforting to remind yourself that periods of wakefulness could then be followed by periods of good sleep. You just have to ride the waves of parenting and sleep! Good luck!
If at any stage you feel concerned about changes in your baby’s sleep, feeding or general development then please seek help and advice from a health care professional.
Nicole Cassey – CEO of Bubbaroo is Mum to Jacob and Emily, the founder and dog’s body at Bubbaroo Baby Sleepwear. Nicole explains “It is such a steep learning curve. Getting to know the baby you created and finding your groove as parents. You sometimes feel like you need to become a detective to try to interpret your baby’s cues, personality, cries and behaviour. This is my passion to help parents on their journey, especially new parents as they transition into parenthood.” You can learn more about Bubbaroo and the functional premium baby sleep products by visiting www.bubbaroo.com.