The Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play infant sleeper is a portable, semi-reclining cradle that rocks and lulls babies into a peaceful sleep. They can also help babies with reflux, who are most comfortable when being held upright or lying on an incline. The only problem? These "sleepers" have never been approved for overnight sleep, despite many using them for this purpose. And now that they've been pulled from the market over safety concerns, they're no longer an option for daytime naps either.
For nighttime sleep, the safest place for babies under a year to sleep is on a firm, flat surface, free of any pillows, blankets or toys, ideally in their parent's bedroom. Many babies, however, just don't find those sleeping arrangements up to their satisfaction and will let you know -- loudly and at 3am!
My Tips for Helping your Baby Sleep without the Rock n’ Play
Help Your Baby Sleep on Her Own Surface Comfortably
Swaddle baby tightly, so that his moro reflex doesn't wake him. This also feels similar to being snuggled close all night. (Discontinue swaddling once baby can roll over.)
Position your baby so that her feet are touching one side of the bassinet. Baby's feet are always touching something in the womb and they find this soothing and grounding.
Offer a soother. Sucking helps initiate baby's calming reflex.
Play white noise through the night. The womb is a noisy place, filled with the loud sounds of your blood rushing and heart beating, so your bedroom can sound too quiet to your newborn. White noise is soothing and familiar.
Tightly wrap one of your shirts around his mattress or sleep with his crib sheet in your bed for a night before putting it in the crib, so she smells you through the night.
Bring Baby into Your Bed
If your baby is used to sleeping at an incline and being rocked gently at night, it may be tough to transition him to a flat, firm sleep surface.
Bed-sharing can be a temporary step in this transition or it can be a long-term solution.
It is possible to bed-share safely and it can be beneficial for babies who struggle with sleeping independently -- and their parents!
Bed-sharing allows your baby to be close to you all night, which can help them sleep better. They can smell you, feel you breathe and hear your heart beating, which is very soothing and reassuring for them.
Because you're so close, your baby doesn't need to fully rouse to tell you she's hungry and you don't need to get out of bed to feed her, so there's less commotion at 3am.
Room-sharing, by having baby sleep in a crib or bassinet beside your bed, offers similar benefits, if you'd prefer to keep your baby on a separate sleep surface.
Sleeping with baby in your bed is safer if you're prepared for it, rather than accidentally falling asleep with your baby in a bed that is not prepared for co-sleeping.
It is NEVER safe to sleep with your baby on a couch, recliner or anything other than a firm mattress. Preparing for bed-sharing, even if you don't plan to do it regularly, makes it safer for you to fall asleep with baby in your bed, on those nights when you're delirious with exhaustion and they refuse to be put down.
Babywear for Daytime Naps
If your baby sleeps better in a more upright position, babywearing can help him get comfortable and settle down for a nap during the day.
Once baby is old enough for a back carry, you can get your baby down for a nap on your back and then have your hands completely free to get things done around the house during naptime.
Even if baby napping in a carrier on your chest limits your mobility slightly, you're still able to move around while baby sleeps and you can use nap time as an opportunity to take it easy yourself.
A sleeping and well-rested baby is always easier to deal with than a baby who won't sleep, so even if you can't be as productive during naptime as you would be if baby was sleeping elsewhere, it can be worth it to know you have this tool available, if your baby has trouble sleeping on a safe, flat surface.