*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.
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.
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.
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...