How do you encourage your baby to sleep better and for longer? What is safe way to swaddle your baby and what are the health benefits?
Pediatric sleep consultant Angelique Millette has the answers to these questions and more, with 15 years of experience helping parents with their children’s sleep problems, she has designed a unique product called the “Hands to Heart Sleep Swaddle” which encourages the natural way babies want to sleep in a comforting organic fabric.
“Hands to Heart Sleep Swaddle”
by Angelique Millette
Angelique Millette is a pediatric sleep consultant based in the Bay Area which many exhausted parents have turned to, to get expert advice on how to train their children to sleep better during their various milestones throughout infancy and toddlerhood. Our son didn’t regularly sleep through the night until he was 13 months, so Angelique helped us out a lot and we were also one of the sets of parents that took part in feeding back information on a new swaddle she was developing. That swaddle became available a couple of years later just in time for our baby daughter’s arrival in May, and we were honored to be her first official customer of the “Hands to Heart Sleep Swaddle”!
The majority of the baby swaddles on the market force the baby’s arms down next to their hips, this goes against their natural instinct to have their arms curled up and hands over their hearts in the fetal tuck position. After 10 years of helping babies to sleep at night and watching babies struggle with this unnatural swaddling technique, she decided to design her own that would help make nighttime parenting easier. Her doctoral research showed that babies develop in the womb with their hands up over their heart, and then after birth, baby’s hands were forced down at their hips. With new evidence showing an increase in hip dyspepsia due to being swaddled too tightly like this, Angelique designed the first ‘hands up’ swaddle which she named the “Hands to Heart Sleep Swaddle”.
The swaddle promotes self-soothing by the placement of the hands over the heart and features swaddle-wings with hand pockets to prevent hands wiggling out and causing the “startle reflex.”
Angelique says: “The Hands to Heart Sleep Swaddle and sleep sack is what we get when we listen to what a baby’s need, add in a good dose of making parenting easier, and finally add in the science behind baby sleep.”
The Marin Scoop asked Angelique why swaddling was an important method to help newborn babies to sleep and what at the main factors to consider when swaddling:
What are the health benefits to swaddling a new-born infant?
“In the early months, following birth, the newborn’s ‘Startle Reflex’ can typically be strong enough to startle a baby awake from a deep sleep. Swaddling in a blanket or swaddle-type garment makes the baby feel safe and securely held and specifically the baby’s arms and legs are being held. The swaddle can facilitate better sleep for newborn babies since it can reduce the likelihood that the startle reflex wakes the baby up.
There are also studies that show that swaddling can help babies to sleep better and fuss/cry less, especially colicky babies. There are several studies that show that swaddling can reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Swaddling has also been found to be a great benefit to babies with a sensitive sensory system, this can include preemie babies who may need the comfort and security of a swaddle to feel ‘held’ as they were ‘held’ in the womb. Preemie babies can easily become over-stimulated so swaddling can help them sleep. After all, it is during sleep, up to 22 hours for a preemie and 14-18 hours for a full term baby, when babies do most of their growing and developing in the first few months.
At what age is it safe to swaddle a baby?
“It is generally recommended that babies are swaddled until 3 – 6 months, but not after 6 months and that the swaddle is removed once the baby is rolling to side or tummy during tummy time or sleep time. It is also recommended that the baby is no longer swaddled if the baby is active enough when swaddled that they are able to get their hands and arms out of the swaddle since they can easily move the swaddle over their face. Expect a few nights or up to a week of sleep regression when phasing out the swaddle. Your baby will get the hang of sleeping un-swaddled around the time they begin to have greater mobility and can roll into a more comfortable sleep position, such as on their side or on their tummy. Your baby’s increased movement during sleeping and achievement of movement milestones are natural progressions in your baby’s development.”
The 2-in1 Hands to Heart Sleep Swaddle has an attachable sleep sack that has a zipper at the bottom for easy nighttime diaper changes without having to un-swaddle the baby. The swaddle can be removed when the baby no longer needs to be swaddled and parents can continue to use the sleep sack. Both items are made from soft, non-dyed 100% organic cotton, produced in the USA. Angelique will also be rolling out a special lovey in the same fabric at the end of the year.
You can order the “Hands to Heart Sleep Swaddle” through the Website and it will be rolled to retail stores throughout the Bay Area at the end of October/beginning of November, including all Day One Centers and Carmel Blue in San Francisco. Watch this space for further information on particular stores in Marin that will be stocking the swaddle and also various sizing options, nearer the time.
Angelique teaches sleep workshops and parent’s groups across the country and families in their homes on the phone or via Skype providing individual and unique sleep methods and solutions for parents and their infants and young children, for more information check out Angelique Millette Website
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