BABY ON BOARD

Why I wish I’d never heard of the Sleepyhead

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*Hello everyone visiting from The Gentle Sleep Book FB page (there have been thousands of you!). Not sure why they chose to link to my blog post out of the blue, but I’d just like to say that the following is NOT meant to be an impartial review of the product, but just our personal experience of using it. This is a personal blog and I like to be honest about my experiences. But they are just MY experiences. I’m not saying this product doesn’t help others, just that we didn’t need it and we are finding it incredibly hard to wean our baby off it, hence the title. Phew!*

My mum had a point when she said there’s a lot of baby ‘stuff’ available today that her generation coped perfectly well without. I remember moaning about her point of view in one of my pregnancy updates, but now, I’m starting to come around to it. There are plenty of things that I can’t imagine doing without – my Perfect Prep machine, for example, has been a lifesaver – but then there are other things, such as the Bumbo seat, which, while useful at the time, definitely wasn’t an essential. But my biggest regret, purchase wise, has to be the damn Sleepyhead.

The irony is that I think I wrote about this ‘wonder product’ in a post when Daph was tiny, calling it one of my most useful purchases. And I suppose it has been useful, but it’s come at a price.

It was the lactation consultant we saw when Daph was about five days old who first told me about the Sleepyhead. She said every mum and dad she saw nowadays had ‘one of those cushion things, so you can have the baby sleeping next to you during the day’. Of course, I went straight on Amazon after she’d left and bought us one (blame the new mum hormones – I was sucking up advice left right and centre like a very dry sponge). And it was useful in that we had it on the sofa with us a few times when Daph was napping. But if I’m honest, I think a MOSES BASKET would have done much the same job. And if I could turn back the clock now, I’d buy a moses basket for Daph when she was first born, which I would put in the Chicco Next 2 Me at night time. If my mum is reading this (hi Mum!) she’ll be rubbing her hands and mouthing I told you so at the screen, no doubt.

But we live and learn. The problem with the Sleepyhead is that you pay a very heavy price for it. Not just in money (and it is stupidly expensive for what is essentially a fancy cushion). But in the future. It’s all very well when you first tuck your little one in and feel pleased that they are all comfy and cosy in their cocoon. But then they get bigger. And bigger. And the Sleepyhead doesn’t. So it starts to be too small for them. So then you try to get them to sleep without it, and all hell breaks loose.

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It’s OK though, because you can go back to John Lewis or Amazon and spend EVEN MORE money on a giant version of the Sleepyhead. What thoughtful folk they are! And of course, you get a spare cover for another £493, because you just know there will be puke incidents. Problem solved.

For now.

The next problem arises when you try to get your baby to nap somewhere else – in a travel cot at her grandparents’ house for example, or on holiday – and you’ve neglected to bring the Sleepyhead. No chance sucker. Your baby is now totally used to turning about in her bed and bumping off the sides and without them, she feels lost, confused and uncomfortable. Which means she wakes up a lot. And cries.

It also becomes a pain when your baby learns to sit up and crawl, and thus decides to explore her cot in the night – turning upside down and crawling to the foot of the bed, but unable to settle because there’s no Sleepyhead bumper at that end.

There’s also the small matter of the weather – if it’s warm, the Sleepyhead doesn’t allow the air to circulate around your sleeping child, meaning one sweaty baby (and in our case, super curly hair in the morning – cute but still upsetting to see your baby drenched in sweat).

The covers are a pain to get on and off and wash, and so you try to cover them with a fitted sheet, but of course they don’t fit properly, meaning the whole thing is a big bumpy mess.

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The big Sleepyhead is allegedly suitable until they are three, but really, do you want a three-year-old that can’t sleep in their bed without cushiony bumpers surrounding them?

The most annoying thing is that Daph was sleeping pretty well when she was first born WITHOUT the Sleepyhead. She was quite happy to be swaddled, and even though she looked tiny in the Next 2 Me, she seemed to settle just fine those first few days. I agree that it’s probably worth a try if your baby seems very restless and resists being swaddled, but honestly, you DON’T need a Sleepyhead. You don’t.

We’ve been suffering the effects of this ridiculous cushion over the past month or so as we’ve been weaning Daph off it. First of all, we took the bumper out of the cover and just put it loose in the cot (this is not recommended, please don’t do this!) but then she managed to pull it over her face and woke up screaming and terrified. So then we went cold turkey, with muslins rolled up and tucked under her fitted sheet to try to provide a similar effect. That didn’t work. So we just decided to go for it and take everything out completely. The cot looked so big and she looked so small. She wasn’t used to all that space and ability to move about at night, and it’s been a real struggle to try to get her to settle without it.

My other qualm about this ‘must-have’ is that it must, surely, stop them from rolling about as much as they might do normally. I know that Daph is behind developmentally in her gross motor skills anyway but I don’t know how much of this was caused by her being effectively slotted into a space every night to sleep. With those bumpers surrounding her, she never had the opportunity to roll about in her cot, and she never had the opportunity to try sleeping on her side or front either (which she does now, finally, at 13 months). I’m sure plenty of babies use Sleepyheads and don’t find it affects their development, but I’ll never know with Daph if she would have advanced more quickly without it.

So yes. That’s my tuppence worth. If you do decide to get one, I suggest not using it every night  – or maybe not using it for naps or something. Just so that your baby also gets used to being able to move about in her bed and doesn’t think the only position for sleeping in is flat on their back, pinned in either side…

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Ruth
    November 6, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Thanks for this. We have something similar here in South Africa which has been amazing up until the point baby out grows it, or starts crawling around at night… I considered a Sleepyhead Grande as a replacement (being silly expensive has so far put me off) but I am going to suck it up rather and let my babe get used to sleeping without it.

    • Charlotte Duckworth
      Reply
      Charlotte Duckworth
      November 6, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      I think it’s a case of dealing with the pain of weaning them off it now or dealing with it later when they’re older! Depends how tired you are, I reckon 😉

  • Reply
    Tori
    November 6, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    From a mum whose newborn baby would not sleep in a Moses basket or cot in the early days due to the startle reflex. I swear by the Sleepyhead bed! Before we discovered it the only way our baby would sleep was on us. I was utterl exhausted and was too terrified to sleep myself but as soon as we put our baby in the Sleepyhead she slept so well and it was an utter lifesaver and a relief for me.

    • Charlotte Duckworth
      Reply
      Charlotte Duckworth
      November 6, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      Thanks for your comment, and really glad it was helpful for you! I’m just saying for us it has made a bit of a rod for our own backs as she’s so dependent on it (we have in fact started using it again as she started waking up in very uncomfortable positions – however she is now using it to climb on which is making it all very stressful!). I think the key is probably to wean them off it when they’re six months old or so x

  • Reply
    Ali
    November 6, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    My son’s sleep went totally and utterly to hell when we took the small sleepyhead away. I was concerned about him being wedged in and unable to move and roll in the grand sleepyhead, coupled with the fact that it costs as much, if not more, than some cots we decided not to invest. In saying that I probably would still use the small version for a newborn x

    • Charlotte Duckworth
      Reply
      Charlotte Duckworth
      November 6, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      I agree, I think it’s great when they’re tiny, but good to wean them off it as early as possible if you don’t want to be stuck with the expense of the bigger one x

  • Reply
    Hannah
    March 24, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    I’m going through the exact same issues with my nearly 9 month old. She’s generally not a great sleeper, but is capable of sleeping a few hours at a time in the sleepyhead. When I try her without it, she only manages an hour at a time (I’m guessing she wakes after one sleep cycle and can’t figure how to get back to sleep. Or wakes and just wants to crawl!) Curious to know if you have any tips of how to wean off the sleepyhead? Did you do it gradually or cold turkey? Would appreciate any advice! X

    • Charlotte Duckworth
      Reply
      Charlotte Duckworth
      March 24, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      I have to be honest, we only just properly weaned her off it now at 19 months! Basically, after I wrote this post, and for the last six months or so we just had the bumpers in the cot (we took them out of the cover) and she slept OK with just them in (occasionally she’d lift them up and get stuck under them, but most of the time it was OK). But after a while she just got too big, so we had to take them out, and instead we just put lots of cuddly toys either side of her, as well as giving her a very flat pillow, which kind of shows her which end up to sleep. She’s been fine since! She also has quite a few muslins in there with her. Oh and we bought AirWrap cot bumpers to cover up the cot bars – you can get them on Amazon. Good luck! It is such a pain but in the end we just stuck with the Sleepyhead for the sake of a good night’s sleep! x

  • Reply
    Meg
    August 20, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    I bought the sleepyhead in both sizes and have never looked back. My baby was a preemie though so hers lasted her a lot longer than other babies, so I got my money’s worth for sure! And saying that, whilst £400 plus a cot is a lot to pay for them, you can’t put a price on 11 hours of sleep a night from 5 months old haha!

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