At around 3 months of age, babies begin to form sleep associations which can be difficult to break! These associations may demand that you hold your baby in order for them to sleep, or rock your little one for hours on end. Our products are designed to help your baby learn to self soothe, while slowly breaking away from these human associations. With consistent use and patience, the Zen Sack will eventually become part of your baby’s nap/bedtime routine - signaling that it is time to fall asleep.
While some babies respond to the Zen Sack’s soothing qualities immediately, this is not always the case. We encourage parents to use the Zen Sack consistently for at least one full week, before expecting significant results. This is because babies do NOT like their sleep routine disrupted! Up until this point, your little one may be used to sleeping in your arms or next to you in bed, and now something has changed. They have found themselves all alone, in a strange bag-like sack, forced to soothe themselves to sleep – and they are not having it! If you find, after this week-long period, that your baby is still not sleeping for longer durations, or falling asleep easier, have no fear - we are here to help! Below is a guide to helping your little one learn to self-soothe while falling asleep independently.
#1 Create ambiance
A white noise machine and black out curtains are great tools for making your baby’s sleep environment as quiet and soothing as possible. This will give your little one the best chance at falling and staying asleep, especially during nap times. Some people choose to give their baby a soothing bath and massage prior to bedtime, which can help make your baby sleepy and ready to rest.
#2 Make sure you are putting your baby to sleep while they are awake
This is EXTREMELY important because around 6 months of age, babies begin to develop object permanence, which allows them to recognize that you were once there, and now you are gone - and they really miss you! Prior to this age, your baby didn’t quite understand that when you were out of their sight, you were still existing somewhere else. But now, they become VERY upset when they find that you were there, holding/rocking/soothing them as they drifted off, and now you are nowhere to be found! Putting your baby to sleep while they are awake may upset your little one in the beginning, but eventually they will get used to falling asleep and waking up alone it will be less of a traumatizing shock to not have you there when they wake up. This is especially important during nighttime sleep, when babies wake up much more frequently than adults do (due to a completely different biological clock). Provided the tools to fall back asleep on their own, your little one won’t scream and cry in the middle of the night, they will simply doze back off to sleep.
#3 Don’t give in
When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, crying and screaming for you to come and pick him or her up (which may happen the first few nights with the Zen Sack), TRY to stay strong and not do it. Even though it’s an effective technique, PLEASE don’t resort to picking up your little one and rocking, cuddling, nursing, your little one back to sleep. This is a perfectly fine way to soothe your baby to sleep between 0-4 months, but now these associations must be broken so you can get some sleep and your little one can learn to self soothe. We know it can be tough, but this is a skill that they will need as they become a 1, 2, 3-year-old toddler. If your little one is hungry, absolutely feed them – waking up in the middle of the night could be a sign that they need to be fed, which you should of course do. Their tiny body is growing at a rapid rate, and they will let you know when they need to take in more food. However, if your baby is simply begging for you to pick them up for a cuddle, try comforting them with your hand (patting gently on their back or rubbing their chest), slowing down and eventually stopping as they become calm. Consistently do this each time your little one wakes. Over the course of the week, stop a bit sooner each time, gradually reducing the time you are spending soothing your baby. The goal of this for your little one to eventually not need you to come to their rescue. Once your baby has calmed down and seems drowsy, leave the room. Try to do this before they have completely fallen asleep, so they do not panic the next time they wake up and find that you’ve disappeared (see #2 above).
#4 Comforting objects
If you have already introduced a pacifier to your little one, this is a great time to use it. This can also help them to self soothe. Simply give them the pacifier when they wake up, and then slowly leave the room, showing them that it is okay to be alone while falling asleep.
If you haven’t already done it, this may be a good time to introduce a lovey (comforting object such as a stuffed animal or blanket). BEFORE putting one of these items in the crib with your baby, please make sure that there are no small parts or pieces that your baby could choke on. We recommend breathable stuffed toys and blankets for loveys, because they are safe and reduce the risk of SIDS. Like a pacifier and eventually the Zen Sack, the lovey will become a sense of comfort to your baby and will help them feel secure enough to sleep. They may wake up in the middle of the night, but if they find that their comforting objects are with them, they can use those to fall back to sleep!
Prior to introducing a comforting object (lovey) into your little one’s sleep routine, we strongly suggest checking with your pediatrician to make sure that the object you have in mind is completely safe.
You may be wondering what the role of the Zen Sack is, if breaking associations is simply the key. Well, in time, the Zen Sack will do an excellent job of helping your baby self soothe with the gently weighted properties of touch. Your baby will recognize when the sack is going on, and that it is now time to settle down for a snooze. PLEASE be patient and give the Zen Sack some time, and feel free to reach out to us on Facebook Messenger for support! This transition may be challenging, but we assure you that, if given a chance, the Zen Sack will be your little one’s key to self-soothing. If you’re using the Zen Sack to help transition out of swaddling, make sure you check out our 4-step Swaddle Transition plan that will make transitioning a breeze! We offer a 60 day return policy for the reason that we know our product works when you give your baby some time to adjust to it 😊