Prior to Ani being born I had heard about something called a baby hammock. I was intrigued by the concept but my brain simply couldn’t process the idea of putting a baby in a hammock; I mean, what is keeping the infant from flopping out of it in the same fashion as an uncoordinated and/or drunken adult? As it turns out it’s nothing like an adult hammock. Try envisioning a cartoon drawing of a stork carrying a baby; that is what a baby hammock looks like.
The next question on my mind was why would you want to put a baby in a hammock instead of a crib? Answer: The hammock snugs up around your munchkin, which is precisely the sensation infants’ want for, hence, people swaddling their babies. This seemed like a 2-for-1 deal to me so we decided to give it a try. Plus it took up a lot less space so game on! We bought it, set it up and gave the hammock some significant testing via large heavy rock. It was set-we were set. All that was missing in this equation was the baby.
Fast-forward, Baby in Sway.
There are so many things happening when you are fresh parents with a brand new human to keep alive. Sleep is somehow fleeting for you but excessive on the part of the baby. How is that even possible? Regardless, that little munchkin started off sleeping in the baby hammock straight away and it was fantastic. She cozied right in like she was kickin’ it in the womb again.
The hammock was attached to the ceiling by a long chain and it was spring-loaded. One of my first realizations into how smart infants are came by watching her figure out how to rock herself in the baby hammock by kicking a leg, then two. The only downside was that after she’d acclimated to this reality any surface she was lying on was fair game. She’d do a full-on double kick to rock herself not realizing that other surfaces weren’t susceptible to this form of voo-doo magic she had learned.
As always with being a new parent, every minute seems to last an hour but somehow months go by without you realizing it and before we knew it our perfect munchkin sleep solution was coming to an end. Somewhere around 6 months old Ani was rolling over with enough vigor that she’d roll herself into the corner of the hammock leaving it leaning cockeyed. That wasn’t optimal so we were on the hunt for a new solution.
It seemed counterproductive to put her into a crib at 6 months old but we weren’t ready to put her into a bed yet, giving her full access to her entire room. It was “baby-proof” but babes at that age don’t yet have a solid grasp on decisions that could significantly harm or kill them so we opted out of that idea. What was left? Nothing. I kept thinking, why do we have such limited options? There’s got to be something else. Something that can give her space yet keep her contained so that she stays safe.
Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm…. Wait.
A tent. A tent? Would that work? Yes… I think, yes….. A tent!
It’s a bigger space than a crib and you can zip the kiddo up placing the zippers at the top so they are unable to escape. Plus the tent we were using had a lot of mesh, which meant she was able to see out, perfect!
We had bought ourselves a new tent the summer prior and still had our old 2-person tent that had seen better days as far as camping goes but indoor munchkin sleeping? It’s good to go! I set up the tent and laid a couple of egg crate mattress toppers down covered with a sheet. Presto Change-O we had new sleeping quarters for the munchkin babe. I thought there might be some transitional strife so I laid down with her the first night and read a book. She didn’t even make it halfway through before she was knocked out so I assumed that the tent was a success.
Fast-forward again and here we are with a 2-year-old who still loves sleeping in her tent. It has evolved over time to include many buddies, books and blankets but it is her own space and she is a “happy camper”.
I had someone ask me rather recently how much longer she will be sleeping in the tent to which I replied, “Well, it’s built for full-sized adults so I don’t think she’s going to grow out of it anytime soon.” Which is not to say that she won’t make the choice to opt for a traditional sleeping arrangement at some point but as far as I can tell most kiddos like abnormal sleep spaces. I know that I always wanted to sleep in weird confined spaces like a toy box or a closet; oh and let us not forget Forts. I loved Forts and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why my parents wouldn’t allow us to keep our Fort in place that took up the entire living room. What’s the problem?
So people of the world hear my words, hammocks and tents may very well be the answer to your kiddo sleeping conundrums. Plus it gives the added bonus of prepping them for outdoor camping. Every time we go camping and begin setting up the tent she lights up and can’t wait to jump in, definitely not a bummer.
If I were a wise old sage sitting on a hilltop somewhere this would be one of the parenting insights I would share with whomever stumbled upon me. I guess this blog thing kind of works the same way except I don’t consider myself to be wise or old and we aren’t on a hilltop, but otherwise it’s exactly the same.