UPDATE - as of January 8, 2013, there is a voluntary recall of the Fisher Price Newborn Rock 'n Play Sleeper product based on "the risk of exposure to mold." See http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml13/13087.html for more information. This italicized paragraph is intended to make consumers aware of the recent recall, however the body of my review below remains as originally posted.
Recommend this product?
As new parents, mr_chelledun and I have learned the hard way that some of our most expensive purchases are destined to collect dust while other less expensive items will turn out to be worth their weight in gold. Falling squarely in the latter category is the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, the undisputed VIP of baby gear over the first four months of baby_chelledun's life.
Between approximately two and four weeks of age, baby_chelledun went through a phase where she never slept for more than twenty minute straight unless she was being held. I believe that her difficulty sleeping independently was based in part on her being a preemie and in part on her acid reflux. A friend suggested to us that the baby might prefer sleeping on an incline and recommended the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper to us as a possible solution. Needless to say, we were willing to try anything, so mr_chelledun swung by Babies ‘R Us to pick it up the very same day.
This is foldable sleeper that looks a little bit like a taco shell on a tripod. The plastic legs are designed to allow it to rock back and forth. Obviously a push from mom or dad is required for any major rocking, but even a baby's breathing will sometimes be enough to prompt a small but soothing swaying motion. The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper has a removable fabric cover with mesh on the sides to promote air flow. We machine wash and air dry ours with no ill effects. It also has a "seatbelt" of sorts, similar to one you will find on a baby swing. It also comes with a silly little bunny toy, which we promptly threw in a toy chest and have never gotten back out.
We paid a premium for our hasty purchase in that Babies ‘R Us charges close to $60.00 for this sleeper. I've since seen it on Amazon and Walmart.com, although never in person at a Walmart store. While I like to save money, it's tough for me to get too worked up about the extra $20.00 because of the incredible value this product has brought to our home.
The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper came in pink and yellow at the time we purchased ours. We picked the yellow because we prefer neutral color schemes for items that are going to be in the public areas of the house. However, I am now seeing some more interesting colors and patterns available for this product, so be sure to shop around a bit before you buy so you know what all your options are.
I kid you not, our baby's sleep began to steadily improve from the first minute we put her in this sleeper. Whether due to the sleeper's slight incline or just the "snuggly" closeness it provides, baby_chelledun consistently had her longest periods of sleep in this sleeper until she was four months old. While these comparatively lengthy stretches were initially just hour-long naps, with our doctor's blessing we quickly moved to using this sleeper for night-time sleep in place of a traditional basinet at which point her periods of sleep extended to two, three, and eventually four hours in length. A full night? No, but definitely progress.
Longer periods of sleep weren't the only bonus we gained at night time. We also found that baby_chelledun was more likely to go back to sleep while resting in this sleeper. This was because we could easily reach out and give her a quick "push" to initiate the soothing rocking motion.
The sleeper's lightweight, portable design also meant that we could move it from room to room easily, allowing one parent to remain sleeping if the baby did wake up and get fussy. From months two to three especially I spent a whole lot of time cat-napping on the couch with baby_chelledun next to me in the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. We also took this bed on the road with us and found it traveled substantially easier than our pack ‘n play in terms of car space and set-up time.
Of course, all good things must come to an end. Baby_chelledun abruptly outgrew the "sleep" function a bit before she turned four months old by virtue of learning to roll from back to front. Fortunately, she had matured enough by that point that the transition was relatively easy and we credit the Rock ‘n Play sleeper with getting us through the worst period of new baby sleeplessness.
We continue to get tons of use out of our Rock ‘n Play Sleeper during baby_chelledun's waking hours. From a parent's perspective, while holding a baby is always nice, there are obviously some advantages to having one's hands free to hold a book or toy while interacting with the baby. The incline allows baby_chelledun to be in a comfortable position to see and interact back. She clearly enjoys it - I think we get more smiles per minute in this sleeper than anywhere else! I also use this sleeper as a safe place to set the baby while I am eating dinner or getting dressed. Again, I can easily drag it from room to room to make sure I can keep an eye on the baby at the same time.
The rocking function is useful during play as well as sleep. A little gentle swaying by mom or dad will sometimes distract a fussy baby. Baby_chelledun also now enjoys vigorously rocking herself by pushing off against the bottom of the bed.
Overall . . .
If I had to pick one piece of must-have baby gear, I'd gladly give up my pack ‘n play, papasan swing, ocean adventure mat, and Bumbo as long as I could keep my Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. In fact, I'd gladly continue buying baby_chelledun progressively larger versions of this product into adulthood if they made them. If you or someone you know are expecting a little bundle of joy, I can't imagine a better gift than this new baby must-have!
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