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Entries in baby sleep positioners (1)

Friday
Jan112013

Ask Malia: Will a sleep positioner stop our baby from rolling at night?

Will a positioner save our sleep?Dear Malia,

My six-month-old daughter has slept fairly well since birth, but she recently starting rolling all over her crib and waking herself up several times a night. She whimpers and we find her scrunched in the corner and she seems so uncomfortable. We’re joking about taping her to the mattress (of course we would never do that). Is there anything we can do to help her? A couple of people have suggested sleep positioners. What are your thoughts on those?

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Ever heard the expression “the only way out is through?” You will get through this brief phase, but there’s really no way around it. The only way to end it is to just plow on through. There is no lasting way to keep your baby girl from rolling at night—nor do you want to. Mobility developments are a natural part of babyhood, and you can’t stop her from moving at night any more than you can stop her from growing.

So how can you save everyone’s sleep during this transition? Here are a few tips:

Shelve the sleep positioners

I don’t recommend sleep positioners, for several reasons. First, your child is becoming increasingly mobile by the day. Anything designed to keep her in a certain sleep position isn’t a good fix; it may be uncomfortable to her, and worse, it could become a safety hazard. Even if a sleep positioner provides some relief, it will likely only last a few nights, as her ability to roll and move around her crib picks up. Afterward, it will become yet another $25 piece of foam that gets tossed in the back of the closet.

Ultimately, a sleep positioner won’t help your daughter do what she really needs to do: learn to sleep through (or go back to sleep after) rolling over.

A better option (though I know it’s not appealing right now): simply help her learn to sleep with her new mobility. If she is not crying at night, don’t wake her or pick her up. (“Oh, poor baby! You look so uncomfortable!”) She may look cramped up in the corner of the crib , but she could feel just fine. She’s developing her own sleeping style, so just let her roll around and find her groove.

If she does cry, soothe her quickly, using the light touch I describe in Ready, Set, Sleep. Most mobility-related sleep disruptions, including learning to sit up and pull up in the crib, take babies about a week to work through. During this temporary phase, children may wake more than normal at night, but afterward, they should start sleeping soundly again.

Un-swaddle

If she is still swaddled, now is the time to break the habit (see this post, Saying "See Ya" to the Swaddle!, on how to break a swaddling habit). Now that she’s rolling, swaddling fabric could easily become bunched around her face and neck, which isn’t safe.

Sleep check

If she’s still waking up more than normal after a few nights of rolling practice, examine the rest of her sleep routine to see if there is another cause for her waking. Have her naps recently become shorter, or longer? Has her bedtime drifted too late, putting her in overtired territory? Make any needed tweaks to her sleep routine to help restore her rest.

Move down

It may seem early, but consider moving your crib mattress down to the next lowest setting. She’ll be sitting up before you know it, and you don’t want to be surprised by any more speedy mobility transitions.

Good luck, and take heart: you will get through this! Congratulations on your newly-rolling baby. Enjoy this fleeting, roly-poly phase.

I’m a nationally published sleep expert, health journalist, and mom. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 80 national and regional magazines and on television. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.

Need more sleep? My e-book Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too is chock-full of mom-tested solutions to help babies and toddlers start sleeping well, tonight!

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