Why I wish I'd never heard of the Sleepyhead


*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.

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.


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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13 month baby update

13-month-baby-update-lifebylotte Oh how I wish I could freeze time! 13 months old is the best age yet - hands down. Daphne is so flipping cute all the time that I keep getting 'cute aggression' where I want to eat her/bite her/crush her. Google it (or click the handy link I provided, heh) - I'm not a psycho, it's an actual thing, a response to when things are so cute you have to rebalance your emotions by feeling violent. Like laughing when you're nervous or crying when you're happy - it's weird brain stuff and totally normal. Interesting eh? But I digress... Here's how Daphne's is at 13 months...

So, the biggest and best change is: she is FINALLY SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT. From around 7pm (she goes down at 6.30pm) until 7am. Cue massive hurrahs, loads of gin, and me generally feeling like a normal human being again. I had forgotten what it was like, in all honesty. It's amazing what a decent night's UNBROKEN sleep can do. It is bloody wonderful. We no longer have the weird dream feed thing at 11pm, so I can go to bed early if I like and get some proper zzzzs in. Of course, I never do (go to bed early) because it's too exciting have unbroken evenings to sit around, write blogs, watch TV and read books. Bliss.

I don't really know what exactly got her to sleep through, to be honest, but I did start to leave her for a bit when she woke at 11pm for her feed, and I did gradually water it down, and reduce the amount, over about two weeks. Eventually she sort of got the message that it wasn't worth bothering to wake up for, but it did take a while and there were several false starts. I think one of the keys to all of this is giving her a massive dinner, which can be a challenge as she's generally not that hungry in the evenings (she eats like a starved dog at lunch). But we have managed to get her to eat lots of different things for dinner - finger food works best - which keeps her interested and generally means we can fill her up before she gets too whiny.

However, the sleeping through the night hasn't been completely consistent - mostly because of the hot weather. The days when we were dealing with 30 degrees outside and 28 in her room she woke up a few times in the night at random hours, which was quite stressful. Settling her when she wakes is actually really hard now because she only semi wakes up - and usually sits up in her cot - and yet she can't seem to lie back down and go back to sleep. But if I go in to 'help', she often gets freaked out and wakes up completely - I think I'm interrupting her in the 'zone' as it were, and although she can't settle herself, it makes it worse if I barge in there and pick her up. She'll start to scream and freak out, which is pretty horrible. And the only thing that will settle her in that situation is a bottle, which always scares me as I don't want to start the habit up again...

But now the weather's cooling down, fingers crossed we won't have any more sweaty wake ups. Of course, there's still teething, separation anxiety, learning to stand up in the cot etc etc to keep me on my toes so I am sure there are plenty of unbroken nights to come, but the main thing is the majority of the time now she's sleeping through and it is bloody marvellous. I've aged about five years in the last year and I swear it's all sleep related. Sigh.

Another achievement this month is that we've weaned her off formula. She now happily drinks cow's milk and doesn't even mind if it's cold from the fridge. We've got a carton of formula to finish off so she's still having that at bedtime, but I'm quite confident she won't miss it. I can't wait to get rid of the Tommee Tippee machine from the kitchen (although it has been a lifesaver and is highly bloody recommended). Next up, we have to wean her off bottles. I thought it was too risky (read: stressful for me) trying to do both bottles and formula at the same time. She has all her normal drinks from a beaker but milk is in a bottle. I know it's not great for her speech development and my mum keeps telling me that I stopped using bottles at six months so I *know* it's something we need to get on top of, but she gets so windy and burpy drinking large amounts from a cup that I'm a bit wary. Any tips appreciated!

Weaning off things seems to be the order of the day at the moment actually - we've also just managed to get her to give up her Sleepyhead in her cot. Another great hurrah. I'm going to write a blog post about my issues with the Sleepyhead so won't go into too much detail here about it, but it's been another struggle and I'm so glad we've got rid of the damn thing. I replaced it with Airwraps - her cot has bars so without the Sleepyhead she can easily get her arms or legs stuck. The Airwraps have gone down quite well - they're not at all squishy though so don't particularly protect from bumping herself against the bars. She was a little freaked out at first, not having her nice soft pillowy sides to snuggle up against but she seems happy now. Her latest bedtime habit is sitting up in the middle of the night, turning round and crawling to the other end, so that her head is at the foot of the cot. She can change positions about ten times a night without waking herself up (we have a video monitor so can spy on her) which is rather amusing.

What else what else... on the speech front, we're no further along, but I wrote about that in my last blog post. She makes loads of different sounds but nothing specific or consistent yet. She's started pointing, sort of, but she uses her middle finger not her index finger and doesn't fully extend it so not sure it counts?! But she can follow me pointing at something and she also definitely understands 'no' now, and will stop what she's doing for a second if she hears me do my 'stern voice'. Although it doesn't stop her going right back to doing it. Sigh. I read somewhere lately (probably a self-help book or something on PMA) that babies are the ultimate inspiration as when they want something, they Just. Don't. Give. Up. I guess that's how you progress through life, and something we forget to do as we age/get lazy? Ha! I'll leave you there on that unexpectedly philosophical note...

Month one - best and worst baby buys

I thought we were SO organised before Daphne was born, and I thought we had everything we needed. But no, within the first week alone, I had managed to spend an obscene amount of money on more 'essential' baby buys - things that people had recommended to me, or things that I suddenly realised we really needed. But then some of these essentials turned out not to be so essential after all... So in this blog, I thought it'd be helpful to other expectant mums out there to list some of the best and worst things we've bought in the first month. Having a new baby is seriously expensive and it's tempting to buy EVERYTHING in fear of depriving your little one in some way, so here goes...

Best buys

Sleepyhead Deluxe Pod

I was quite shocked by the price of the Sleepyhead (£100) when it was recommended to me by the lactation consultant we saw. But she convinced me by explaining how useful it was as a way of having the baby in the room with us during the day - it meant she could nap and we could keep an eye on her. It also helps babies who don't like the vast openness of their cots - because it helps them feel more snug and secure. Other bonuses: if you have a big enough bed (I think a Super King is needed really) then you can have it in the bed with you if you want to co-sleep without fear of rolling onto your baby in the night. But for us, the biggest benefit is that we can take it to my mum and dad's house - or wherever - and she naps quite happily, thinking she's still at home. I can see it'll be great when we take her away at Christmas as it's so lightweight and portable, and can be used to create a 'cot' out of any bed.

Boba Wrap

Before Daphne was born, we bought a Maxi-Cosi Easia Baby Carrier as it looked really sturdy and safe. However, as with many things we bought, it turned out poor Daphne was too small for it. And so I bought the Boba wrap as well, and it's been an absolute godsend. No matter what state she's in, if I pop her in it, within a few minutes she falls asleep. It's a bit of a pain to put on to begin with (the day it arrived Oli and I had a massive sleep-deprived barney while trying to work out how to wrap it), but you soon get the hang of it. I have even managed to go to the toilet while wearing it (and her). Should I have shared that? Possibly not, but trust me, sometimes these little things make all the difference to your day...

Dr Brown's Natural Flow bottles 

Even if you're exclusively breastfeeding, at some point you're going to have to give your baby a bottle. Since Daphne's been mostly bottle fed (both expressed milk and formula), she's unfortunately always been quite a windy baby. And windy baby = miserable baby. These bottles have really helped - they have a fancy pants inner tube that stops air getting into the teat and into your baby's mouth. They haven't quite cut down on her colicky sessions but they've definitely helped. A pain in the arse to wash up, but it's a small price to pay.

Motorola MBP36S Digital Video Monitor

Given the ridiculously small size of my flat, we debated whether or not to bother with a baby monitor. And for the first week we managed without one, but then I started to get antsy if the TV was on and I was at the other end of the flat, because I wouldn't hear her start to cry. We debated again whether or not to bother getting a video monitor, or just an audio one, but I'm so glad we went for it in the end because it's so lovely to be able to SEE her as well as hear her. And if/when we finally move to a bigger place, I am sure it'll be invaluable.

Worst buys

MAM Start Soothers

I'm still massively confused by dummies (not a sentence I ever thought I'd write). Are they terrible? Are they brilliant? Are they acceptable only in certain circumstances? I STILL have no idea. However I was rather surprised when the Health Visitor told me that they are now recommending dummy use as it can prevent cot death in very young babies. Anyway, we bought some Mam ones - special ones for tiny babies, with a special sterilising box. And Daphne spits them out in disgust every time we try to give her one. Not something you can really recycle or donate to a friend, or a big deal, but officially a total waste of money.

aden + anais Twinkle Changing Mat Cover

This has really become a bit of a joke, and (I like to think), a game between me and my baby. It goes like this: mummy washes changing mat cover, puts it on changing mat, baby immediately pees/poos/throws up on changing mat cover. Mummy washes changing mat cover, puts it on changing mat, baby immediately pees/poos/throws up on changing mat cover. Repeat ad infinitum. It might look nice, it might be slightly softer on baby's bot, but the reality is that the wipe-clean plastic underneath is a far more practical option.

Babygrows without scratch mitts



Like most babies, Daphne's favourite activity is scratching her face to shreds/poking herself in the eye or nose. Why sleepsuits without scratch mitts integrated even exist is beyond me. So sadly, all the lovely tops and sleepsuits we bought with open sleeves have hardly been used. And those oven glove-style scratch mitts (see above!) are useless if your baby's as tiny and wriggly as mine - two seconds and they're off.

Any other new mums got any recommendations of products that you just can't live without? Or that I shouldn't bother with? Would love to hear from you...