I have been commenting recently on a forum for multiple moms and reading some of the questions regarding sleeping arrangements for twins and triplets and many moms use the ‘Rock and Play’ rocker by Fisher Price for their babies to sleep in during the first few months of life. This wasn’t available when my triplets were small and at first I thought that maybe this was the answer to many parents prayers in getting their newborns back to sleep after feeding during the night. You can set it to rock automatically so enabling you to get back to bed for that much needed sleep.
The Fisher Price Rock and Play is NOT intended to be a bed for your twins and triplets !
I was horrified when I went onto Amazon and found an image of the rocker and realised that this is what those moms on the forum are referring to, this is totally unsuitable for babies to sleep in for any great length of time. I agree that it is good for them during the day, for a 1/2 hour snooze or directly after a feed so they’re not laid flat straight away but it is totally unsuitable for overnight sleeping and this is not what Fisher Price intended it to be used for. To be fair to Fisher Price, they are not the only ones who make these items, they are all as bad as each other. Babies need to feel a flat, unmoving surface underneath them to learn movement and spatial awareness. I appreciate that at times you are at the end of your tether, dog tired and just want a few hours to sleep through the night but there are other alternatives that I will show at the end of the article.
I can see that they are ideal when you have a very fractious baby and are trying to feed/settle another one, so popping one into a rock and play to free up your arms for the next one, is a perfect use for them when you’re by yourself and no ‘support staff’!
I have several reasons why I say they must not be used for long periods of time:
1. A baby MUST be laid flat during the first few months of life so that their musculature and neurological growth is normal. If the baby is not laid flat for 90% of the time during the first few months of massive development, they will develop neurological issues, muscle malformations such as torticollis where muscles on one side of the baby’s neck becomes tight and they cannot turn their heads. This naturally has developmental implications. Babies need to be able to stretch and bend their legs, look around and turn to sounds, wave their arms – for good sensory, cognitive and muscle development. They cannot do this in the rock and play.
2. A second reason for laying baby flat is to allow any minor muscle issues the baby may have after being squished up in the uterus, where movement is severely restricted over the last few weeks, to dissipate with the freedom of movement to stretch and strengthen, however in the rock and play that sort of movement is limited. Also bear in mind that whilst the rock and play is soft, it will still have an impact on the shape of your babies soft skulls and will mishape them as the baby cannot move its head as freely in the rock and play as it can when laid on a flat surface. You can see from the image of this rock and play below that the baby has very little wriggle room, cannot change the 90° angle of its hips and legs, cannot stretch them out, has very little movement space for its head. This position is not healthy for a normal developing spinal cord, bones and muscles.
3. The Rock and Play is not recommended as a suitable as an overnight sleeping bed for babies by any manufacturer and specifically because it is against all the recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Your babies must not be left to sleep in sitting up devices such as this or for example car seats – I wrote an article on this a few months ago, read it here. This is the same position and can compromise your babies airway.
4. You are making a rod for your own back by using these rock and play seats to get your babies to sleep. They will not learn how to self soothe and be able to get themselves back to sleep as they grow. The only way they will be able to sleep is if you rock them so when they get too big for the rock and play and you move them into a regular crib or bed, they will not be able to go to sleep because they have become so accustomed to the rocking motion to send them off to sleep. It might seem like a solution at the time but you will then have to retrain them to sleep without the rocking. Its not worth going there, better for overall sanity to help them get to sleep in the conventional way.
Im not saying that the rock and play is not a suitable place for your babies to sit during wake times, where they can play and interact with you, but if they fall asleep in them, they should be moved to a bed with a flat surface like a crib or moses basket. My triplets and a moses basket each downstairs for me to transfer them into when they were asleep. Each one had a comfortable flat mattress where they were safe and secure for napping during the day. Ultimately it is your choice how you care for your babies and I only offer my opinion of these baby seats simply out of concern for your babies development.
Alternative to The Rock And Play
Model: 3-in-1 Rocker Napper
T&TW Rating: ????/4
Best Store Purchase: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com
- Suitable from birth to a max. weight of 18 kg.
- Easy to use lever to change from rocker to lie-flat napper or upright seat. Perfect when baby falls asleep whilst playing.
- Soft and padded seat for added comfort.
- Raised border for safe and cosy sleeping.
- Support leg to choose stable or fold away for soothing rocking motion.
- Optional vibration.
- Toy features light, music and hooks for two removable favourite toys.
- Adjustable arm that moves 90 degrees horizontally for easy access.
- 3-point safety harness to secure the baby.
- Requires 1 x C and 3 x AAA batteries (not included).
This is a perfect alternative to the rock and play, as it offers the same features, but baby can be laid flat by the use of an easy lever to lie flat. Baby lights and toys can be attached, for entertainment, along with a vibrating motion if you want to use this.
A perfect safe environment for baby to sleep, allowing for natural development. The support leg allows you to change from rocking motion to a stable standing position.
This is by far the better choice for your babies, they can play, see what’s going on, the base is flatter so no issues with being ‘stuck’ and unable to move around and when they fall asleep you adjust the position and lie them flat without waking them up.
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