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The Rock n Play to Crib Transition

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Rock n Play to Crib Transition

I started drafting this post Monday, but Sylvia beat me to the punch. Pics of sleeping babies in the rock n play and all. (Former attorneys turned SAHMs think alike.) Click over if you want to read about an older babe's transition.

This is the ultimate in mommy blogger posts, but WHATEVER. When you are dealing with kids' sleep issues it CONSUMES YOU TO THE CORE.

So anyway.

Little Will didn't spend too much time in the rock n play. I switched him to the crib full time early on, around 5 weeks, because I had to get up out of bed to change his diaper anyway. (I had 99 problems and 98 of them were dirty poop diapers in the middle of the night.) 

omg fat squish

I had no idea that rock n plays weren't really recommended for nighttime sleep and knowledge of this fact was not really necessary to my life, so, moving on . . . 

Enter baby number two. Our sweet Zelie loveddddd the rock n play . . . 

Two days old. First nap in the RNP. 

And the rock n play loved her back.

She was consistently going 5-6 hour stretches in the thing in her first two months of life. When she woke once or twice a night, I could grab her, nurse her in bed, put her back, and go back to sleep. I got real used to my easy peasy five hour stretches every night. 

2 weeks old. RNP Strong. 


But it was not meant to be. 

So here's the deal. Look at that picture above. A few weeks ago, just after Zelie's two month checkup (of course) I noticed that Zelie's head was a little asymmetrical. At first I thought nothing of it. I sort of just laughed it off because:

I'm a 90s kid. 

Babies don't always have perfectly round heads, you know? 

But then it started to bother me. I looked into it a little bit and started reading about plagiocephaly, i.e., flat head syndrome. Then I noticed her head always tilts to one side (her right) and she has a preference for turning her head to the left. The flat spot on her head corresponds to her head turning preference.

But it's the cuuutest little tilty tilt. 

A friend sent me this article (written by a pediatric occupational therapist) which essentially led me to believe the rock n play was exacerbating her head and neck issues. 

Damn you experts. 

From the blog:
Most babies are born with very subtle muscle imbalances from being all squished in the womb. One side of the neck might be a little tight or one side of the torso slightly curved. When you place your newborn in a semi-reclined position, gravity pulls her into that preferred "womb position", further exacerbating asymmetries. This is a contributing factor for Torticollis - one-sided neck tightness that often requires therapy to correct and often leads to one-sided head flattening. The cure for most minor newborn asymmetries? Lots of opportunities for movement and play to stretch and strengthen out of the womb position.
So I immediately switched her to the crib and took other steps to help round out her dome, including limiting her time in the car seat (which means the duallie, too), wearing her in the Moby or Ergo more often, and increasing tummy time. I took her to the doctor where she was diagnosed with plagiocephaly. He gave helpful advice like "I've never dealt with this before" and "maybe keep her left side to the wall in her crib so she looks right . . . ?" (I'll spare you of that rant, but NOT HELPFUL MUCH?!?) She begins PT next month to help with her head turning preference (though it's probable that her neck will be fine by the time we actually get to the appointment). We're just doing everything we can to avoid the 23-hour-a-day helmet. 

Anyway, the transition. 

I know some people go to great lengths to make the transition easier, like using pillows, propping up the crib with books, and rolling up blankets, etc. First of all, I wasn't willing to do that with my mostly immobile two month old. Because SIDs. Secondly, because of her neck and reading too much on the stupid Internet I was pretty motivated just to rip the bandaid off, so to speak, so that's what I did. 

I was already putting her down in her crib occasionally for naps starting around 6 weeks. She was more aware of her surroundings and so she would no longer take naps in the rock n play. That was fine. She was doing pretty well swaddled with the pacifier in her crib. I got lots of flights of stairs on my Fitbit with the running up and down to re-insert the pacifier a few times until she'd settle into her nap.

Eventually, maybe around the 8 week mark, I also tried putting her down for the beginning of the night in her crib. Before going to bed, however, I would bring her back to our room in the trusty old rock n play for the remainder of the night. She'd either wake on her own around 9 or 10 or I'd pick her up for a dream feed type situation before going to bed. BUT, it was still 50/50 on whether she'd actually fall asleep in her crib in the beginning of the night. On an off night, we'd just have to hold her until we were ready to go up to our room for the night.

So once I figured the rock n play was messing with her neck (she was 10 or 11 weeks), I decided I'd grit my teeth and just go all-in with the crib sleep. 

The first night was HELL. Will and I were up with her all night. I'd nurse, rock her to sleep, put her down, and then she'd wake and Will would insert and re-insert her pacifier. All. Night. Long. That first night I actually ended up co-sleeping with her in the guest room bed, so that I could re-insert the pacifier without getting up. Stupid pacifier.

The second night was also Hell, but an outer ring of Hell, I suppose. She woke four times, but managed to fall asleep more easily the first three times. The fourth time (at 4:30am) not so much, but it seemed like progress, so we kept at it. 

The third night, was, you guessed it, Hell! But by this point, we were at like, the fourth circle, so it wasn't too bad. She woke only three times this night, but put herself back to sleep adequately each time after a short bit of nursing. 

She's been waking three times per night ever since, around 10 (while we're still up, so essentially a dream feed), 1-2am, 4-5am, and then waking up for the day at around 6am. She went two nights in a row with only one wakeup where I got my hopes up really high (she did a 9 hour stretch!!! all the praise hands), but then went back to her three-fers. I'm only getting up twice, which is essentially what Little Will did at this point (but with more diaper bombs), so I'm pretty content to deal with it. I'll be forever hopeful that she'll do the 9 hour thing again. 

The rock n plays (yeah, we have two, judge away) are packed away for good. I've already seen improvement in Zelie's neck and she is becoming a rockstar at tummy time. Her head looks the same if not worse, because she's still sleeping on her back obviously. So maybe I'm just being overly cautious and paranoid . . . but that's my job. I'm a mom. Why they pay me the big bucks. 

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At March 10, 2016 at 2:51 PM , Blogger Kelly LaFleur said...

My Zelie had the same head tilt thing and we went to the chiropractor first before the doctor. Just so happens she was all locked up on one side so she was favoring another. We went back every week for month and I was more alert about making sure she stretched out her neck both ways. Just thought I'd offer that suggestion since it really helped us!
Also, no sleep is the worst. Zelie was up 5 FREAKING times last night and she's 6 months old. Ugh.

At March 10, 2016 at 3:08 PM , Blogger Theresa Breslin said...

Yes, I'm hoping PT will have the same effect! She def seems locked up on the right side. We basically just took her to the doc for a referral. He was pretty clueless. … Sending virtual hugs and coffee mugs your way, mama.

At March 10, 2016 at 4:03 PM , Blogger Ellen Johnson said...

Gus had an issue with this too, and I ended up putting a crib soother in his crib on the side that he didn't favor so he'd have to turn his head to look at it. It's worth a shot! His touch of torticollus resolved by itself by 4 months.

At March 10, 2016 at 7:10 PM , Blogger Jenny said...

Evie and Luke both had head and neck tilts, and Evie rocked a flat head for a while, but we've had huge success with a NUCCA chiropractor getting things loosened up for them. Evie went through 4 months of PT before we finally hit on something that loosened her poor little muscles up, and then boom, she started hitting the motor milestones and her head rounded out. We still did some catch up PT to help her learn to walk, but I can't sing enough praises about the chiro route for getting things rolling. Oh, and rock n play 4ever. Flat head and all. Makes those first 6 weeks livable. ish.

Zelie is a little doll!

At March 10, 2016 at 10:07 PM , Blogger Hannah Gokie said...

I will never tire of baby sleep posts. Ever. I am definitely keeping this in mind for if/when baby #2 -- we had a hand-me-down bassinet used for Kate in our room when she was little bitty, but never bought a rock-n-play so mayyyybe we never will. Hope everything works out soon!

At March 11, 2016 at 9:09 AM , Blogger Colleen said...

Soooooo don't take away me mother card, but this is why we put babies to sleep on their sides or bellies once they can lift their head up. My oldest baby was a back sleeper (because the world scared me into it) and had a flat head. With the rest of them, they went on their bellies or sides and no issues. I know it's supposedly a SIDS risk, but we do everything else in our power to reduce those risks in every other way. My babies were also really spitty, so the thought of them laying on their back and choking on their spit up scared me. Anyways, maybe if she's napping during the day and you are awake and can observe her, put her on her belly to sleep if you feel comfortable doing that. Good luck, she's gorgeous no matter what her head shape is :)

At March 11, 2016 at 3:02 PM , Blogger Stephanie said...

Umm are our babies texting each other? Lily's night waking times are practically identical! Aaron haaaated being put down in his swing or bassinet, so as a paranoid first-timer, I practically never set him down and he spent most of his time Moby'd. Good for his head, maybe, but not my sanity. I feel like Lily spends significant awake time laying in her baby gym or swing at Aaron's needier times, so now I'm off to go examine her head.

At March 24, 2016 at 4:47 PM , Blogger Nicole Cox said...

Haha I kinda love baby sleep posts. You guys are way dedicated at the night sleep training!! Wow. I can barely manage to stay awake long enough to get the baby latched on (they all side-lie nurse and sleep next to me until they're evicted around 8 months). Proooobs why it is so hard to sleep train them at that point! Ha. Maybe I can be more diligent this time (new baby is 4 weeks) especially since we side-carred a mini crib to my side of the actually staying awake long enough to put her in her crib and not just sleep through all the nursing sessions!

At March 24, 2016 at 4:56 PM , Blogger Theresa Breslin said...

I WISH I could figure out side-lie half-asleep nursing! I've tried it with both my kids and it is just awkward and uncomfortable and milk goes everywhere, haha!


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