As a Happiest Baby on the Block (HBOTB) educator, I was thrilled to hear about the product’s recall, and horrified at the number of deaths attributed to this device. The media spent a lot of time pointing out that the company’s marketing included clear messaging that suggested that children could sleep in it, in defiance of the national pediatrician’s association’s recommendations that children sleep on a flat surface without padding or bedding until they are old enough to move to prevent suffocation.
Many of the stories online made it sound like the company must be out of their mind, or the parents must be idiots. I don’t think that either thing is true. I think I know why well-meaning parents listened to the printing on the box and not the hurried message/tri-fold handout from their child’s doctor: they simply want some sleep. They see how calm their child is in this device, and don’t know what else to do to get some peace and quiet. Fisher-Price knew what I know; parents can be desperate and want a convenient solution to their struggles. Their packaging mentioned both the warning and showed sleeping children in the device.
Babies are amazing, but babies don’t sleep through the night right away. They often don'[t sleep through the night in the first 6 months. That is a long time for parents to deal with their own chronic sleeplessness. Many families are dual-earners, and many parents today are over 30. Losing a night’s sleep at 23 and losing a night’s sleep at 39 are completely different. One makes you sluggish. The other makes you feel like you were hit by a truck. Have that happen to you for a week, and you cannot handle screaming or exhaustion very well. Really. Do that for 6 months, and you might agree to almost anything anyone suggests to get a little more sleep. When your child is so peaceful in that carrier or infant positioner, you may not want to risk waking them. Do it anyway. And learn how to get them back to sleep more easily.
One reason why I became a HBOTB educator was my sympathy for the parents I worked with as an occupational therapist. These are kind people, intelligent people, but people who were not given great strategies by their pediatricians. They were told what to do, but not HOW to do it. Pediatricians aren’t given the time to walk parents through good techniques, even if they know them. And a lot don’t know how to calm babies. They know how to cure babies. Dr. Karp’s techniques tell parents how.
Since the arrival of the SNOO, things have become a bit simpler. The need for education hasn’t ended, because unless you intend to spend the first 12 weeks at home each and every day, parents need to know how to calm their babies without a device. Read Why You Still Need the 5S’s, Even If You Bought a SNOO if you would like to know more about how HBOTB will save your sanity during the day.