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  • The Startle Reflex and Your Baby

    The Startle Reflex and Your BabyHave you ever set your little one down to sleep only to watch her suddenly throw her hands out as if in fright? You might be concerned that you’ve done something wrong or maybe that there’s an underlying medical condition at play, but there’s nothing to worry about. This is called the Moro reflex, or more simply, the startle reflex.

    Babies are born with an array of interesting reflexes that we eventually outgrow, each designed to play a role in our survival. Human babies require more care and for a longer period of time than babies of any other species, so we have evolved with a few tricks to keep us safe.

    When exposed to a loud noise or a sudden movement, the Moro reflex can cause your baby to flail. The general belief is that back when humans were more ape, the reflex helped babies latch on to mom’s body if they fell. Nearly all babies experience this reflex, but it only lasts for four or five months after birth.

    If this reflex happens during sleep, the baby may wake up. It causes sleepless babies and frustrated parents all over the world. There’s nothing we can do to prevent the reflex from occurring, but there are a few things we can do to lessen its affect and help our babies sleep.

    1. When you lay your baby down in the crib or bassinet, try and make the delivery as gradual as possible by continuing that touch connection for a short period of time so that she feels as sense of you even after she is on her own and does not feel like she is falling.
    2. Try and make sure the room she sleeps in is not only dark, but is free from sudden sounds. Using white noise that is consistent and loud enough goes a long way to filter out noise changes in the home that may startle her.
    3. Make sure you have established a good nap and bedtime routine so that baby knows what to expect and feels secure with that consistency.
    4. And the most important thing you can do to help your child with the Moro reflex is to swaddle your baby snugly (but not too tight) so she always feel comforted and secure. When she startles, she’ll immediately feel her edges and calm right back down.

    The Slumber Sleep System is an effective tool for helping parents get around this reflex. By starting with the Slumber Swaddle baby will get the closeness they need to fall back to sleep immediately and then by continuing with the Slumber Sleeper after about 3-5 months of age you will help your baby continue to get that sense of closeness and bonding just like a swaddle as baby can always feel her edges. This reminds her of the time she spent in the womb, triggering feels of security and safety. It helps children fall back asleep faster without the need to summon mom or dad.

    Here’s a quote we received from Katie who found the Slumber Sleeper effective to soothing her son’s aggressive Moro reflex.

    “My 15 week old son had exaggerated Moro or startle reflux to the point where I first thought he was having seizures as he was waking excessively and the episodes were quite unsettling. My pediatrician recommended the Slumber Sleeper with the swaddle attachment and the very first time I put him in the sleeper it worked like magic! I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I was as although my pediatrician said he would outgrow the reflux soon, the episodes were quite alarming. The Slumber Sleeper just settled him so nicely- not only did he not wake as often in the night but he began to sleep for longer stretches of time.” 

    - Katie D., mother to Dylan

    safe sleep solutionWritten by Joanna von Yurt, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Co-Founder and CEO of Swanling Innovations Inc.

    Joanna von Yurt is the mother of three intelligent, sensitive, and compassionate girls (who all want to be mommies when they grow up). She is first AND foremost a mom! Professionally, however, she is an accountant, controller and serial entrepreneur.

    Joanna has a degree in Psychology from Harvard University with an emphasis in child psychology. She worked as an infant caregiver for 12 years and interned as a Child Life Specialist, family/social therapist, and assisted in clinical studies involving children’s personality and social psychology. Joanna is a Certified Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) Prevention Professionals, Safe Sleep Educator, Member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants, Member of the National Sleep Foundation, and Member of the Canadian Sleep Society.

    Joanna has a lifelong passion for childcare and child safety. She enjoys sharing her experiences with other parents about sleep routines, attachment parenting, safe sleep guidelines, and children’s natural sleep patterns. Her company, Swanling Innovations, is committed to producing modern, safe and innovative products that meet the expectations of discerning parents. The Slumber Sleeper™ is a 4-in 1 safe sleep solution (mattress protector, flat sheet, fitted sheet and sleep sack all in one) designed to help keep your baby safe, warm and centered.

    Joanna always says that a well-rested child and well-rested parents add up to a happy family!

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