Monthly Archives: March 2013

#6. Top 10 things you don’t need for your baby

Photo by Pixabay on

I am a big advocate of swaddling. In my experience young babies who are swaddled sleep much better than those who are not. Wrapping your baby is one the very first things I’d suggest if your baby has trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

However, I do not recommend you buy a swaddle suit. Not only are they an unnecessary expense but can actually do more harm than good, potentially causing damage to your baby’s hips. All you need to swaddle your baby are muslin cloths.

#6 Item you should avoid buying your baby: Swaddle Suits

Why Swaddle?

  • Swaddling basically means “wrapping your baby firmly.” The sensation of pressure on their bodies mimics the feeling of being in the womb and provides comfort (like a hug!). This comforting feeling allows them to feel safer and more relaxed when falling asleep.
  • During the first months of life the Moro Reflex, or Startle Reflex, causes a baby to suddenly fling their arms out from their body. Not only does this physically startle a baby awake, but can be very surprising and upsetting to some babies. At this young age they don’t really understand that these arms are their own, so the feel and sight of them being flung out from their body is quite a shock. This reflex will often wake a baby and disturb what should be restful sleep. Swaddling keeps the arms wrapped firmly against the body and prevents the Moro Reflex from startling your baby awake.

Why shouldn’t I get a Swaddle Suit?

There are many brands and styles of swaddle suits available. I don’t profess to have used and assessed every one, so my recommendation not to use them is equal parts’ anti swaddle suit’ and ‘pro muslin cloth’ for swaddling. Some are wraps with velcro and buttons, others are zip up suits, there are many materials and styles and quirky names. What they all have in common is a price point well above a pack of muslin cloths and a full body constraint*.

Anti Swaddle Suit

Too often swaddle suits are not tight enough across the chest and upper body and too tight across the hips and legs. Many suits have little wings for the arms to sit above the head, directly contravening what I see as integral to the swaddle technique – having the arms tucked up against the body. The zip-up styles in particular are little more than tight sleeping bags and do not, in my opinion, provide enough pressure on the body to provide the comfort traditional swaddling affords.

Conversely, these swaddle suits will usually encase the lower body, pinning the legs into a straightened position. Babies are born with very loose hips, to assist delivery. Over the first few months of life the hips need to flex and move outwards to strengthen the joints. Babies who are wrapped too tightly across the hips when very young can get hip dysplasia, where the hips become dislocated and require weeks of treatment to correct.

* There are some swaddle ‘wings’ available that wrap only the arms. While these do not place unwanted pressure on the hips, I still feel they do not provide enough pressure  on the upper body to warrant buying them instead of the muslin cloths.

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on

Pro Muslin Cloth

A large square muslin cloth used for swaddling can (read: should) be wrapped firmly around the upper body with the arms against the chest, leaving the hips and legs only loosely wrapped and reasonably free. I have never noticed that babies are more or less comforted by wrapping that includes the legs; it is the pressure on their stomach, side, and back that provide the secure sensation.

Not only does the muslin cloth the provide a firm secure wrapping on your baby’s upper body without putting pressure on his hips, but they are significantly cheaper than the designed suits. You can usually buy a pack of four or five for less than one suit.

Once your baby no longer sleeps wrapped these cloths can be transformed for many other uses (everyday cloths for spills, light covering when very hot, to drape over pram to darken for naps, blankets for dolls, …. etc etc) whereas the swaddle suit will eventually be another expensive item you no longer have use for.

So, even though your baby would look super cute in a swaddle suit with tiny wings above his head,

I think you’ll find he sleeps better and grows stronger if you use a simple muslin cloth instead.

Swaddling: The Baby Sleep Secret (



Filed under Baby Product Advice, Babycare Advice, General, Tips and tricks

Is your dog like your baby? Is your baby like your dog? ….

I see Freddy and Matty two days a week.

Now This Is Just Wrong!

When I arrive at the house Freddy is always excited to see me. He comes straight over to me as fast as his little legs can carry him, eager for a cuddle and a kiss. Matty usually seems pleased I’ve arrived as well, though he isn’t as demonstrable as Freddy.

When the mum of the house has to leave for work Freddy will sometime whine. Nothing to worry about, a few small complaints maybe, a longing look out the front window; he soon settles into the day happily. Matty can be more inclined to fret, scratching at the closed door and trying to reach under the gap. Continue reading


Filed under General, Just for Fun

What is the difference between a nanny and a babysitter?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

I feel frustrated if someone says I work as a babysitter or au pair. I used to, when I was a teenager. But now I have 2 university degrees, over 15 years experience in my industry, and a focused and specific knowledge about the care, education and development of young children. Surely it’s obvious that a job a teenager can do is not the same thing an educated professional does?

A child and her nanny

But it’s not obvious to many, causing confusion amongst both parents and carers. In-home private childcare is still a largely emergent market in Australia. Though countries like England have had nannies as well as babysitters for long enough to develop a clear sense of the different care they provide, in Australia we are still learning about how to best utilise all the options available for private childcare.

As with any industry, not knowing exactly what you want from an employee can lead to dissatisfaction all round. Parents can end up feeling unsure about what they can ask of their carers or what their responsibilities as employees are, and carers may feel conflicted about their role and what is expected from them.

If you want to hire someone to care for your children or want to work in the private childcare industry, arming yourself with the knowledge to find the right fit between family and carer should be your first step.

Click here to read my article,

‘What’s in a name?’

for simple and clear definitions of a babysitter, an au pair, a mother’s help, and a nanny.


Check back at Babysitter Search for my monthly contributions to their blog, as well as other great articles and tips.


Filed under Around the Web, General, Thoughtful, Tips and tricks

Can a cat suck a baby’s breath?


For hundreds of years cats have been accused of killing babies. The reasons vary over time, but still today there are many people who fear having a cat in the same home as a baby. 

So can a cat steal your baby’s breath, and should you get rid of your moggy before becoming a parent?

The short answer is, No.

Why do we fear the cat?

Cats were once considered evil, even now there are superstitions about black cats bringing bad luck. During the 13th and 14th century it was believed a cat could suck the soul out of a baby. Their associations with witches and vampires reinforced a notion of a cat as mysterious beings with the potential to suck life force out of the most innocent and pure. Continue reading


Filed under General, Tips and tricks, Weird and Wonderful

Go The F*** to Sleep

Have you heard of this book? It’s been around a while now and was hugely successful when it was released in 2011. But, in case you’ve missed it I really think you should take a look and I think you’ll enjoy it.

After trying, unsuccessfully  to get his 2 year old to sleep for several hours, previously unpublished author Adam Mansbach facebooked that he would write a book called ‘Go the F*** to Sleep.’ At the encouragement of his friends he decided to actually write it; a picture book for adults that verbalises the internal frustration you can feel while helping a wakeful child to settle.

Continue reading

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Filed under General, Just for Fun, Weird and Wonderful