Note: Despite the views reflected in this story, DocATot mini-bed is NOT intended for use in a crib, bassinet, or play-yard setting, nor for unsupervised sleep. The manufacturer clearly states that failure to follow these warnings could result in death or serious injury. To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children are placed to sleep on their backs and on a clean flat surface free of blankets or pillows.
Deep in the throes of the early days of my son Isaac’s life, my wife and I reached what felt like a breaking point. We had a routine at the time we liked to call “the transfer.” Essentially, it involved one of us gently rocking him to sleep in our arms and then ever-so-softly placing him into the bassinet or Rock n’ Play baby sleeper positioned next to our bed in the hopes he’d stay asleep.
It almost never worked.
The second we put him down, he’d usually wake up. And for the next two hours, or until he decided he’d had enough fun fucking with us, we were all awake. We tried every contraption and tactic imaginable: a swing; letting him cry it out in his “big-boy” crib; even driving him around in the car on nights when he was especially ornery. Nothing worked. Our life it seemed was doomed for an endless cycle of permanent torment and drowsiness. But then, on a tip from one of my wife’s childhood friends and a fellow mom, everything changed: She suggested the DockATot Deluxe.
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It’s an oval-shaped mini-bed for infants that, in essence, acts as a swaddle to help them relax, and, ideally, sleep.
I’ll admit, I told my wife not to buy it at first. “This thing?” I said as she showed me what looked like a glorified pillow/mini-raft on the company’s website. I was promptly told to shut my mouth, as she proceeded to explain how her friend had faced the same problem, bought the DockATot, and ⏤ as if a surefire sign of divine intervention ⏤ her baby started sleeping for multi-hour stretches at a time.
What the hell? I thought. Anything was better than our current situation.
I’m really not one for hyperbole. But the first time we put Isaac in the DockATot for a mid-afternoon snooze, it was as if he had been to the depths of hell and, at long last, returned home to his natural habitat. Perhaps it’s the snug design of the cushy sleeper. Or how the sides prevent the baby from rolling over and awakening themselves. Frankly, I didn’t care. Whenever we placed Isaac in his DockATot, he was happy. Like, extremely happy. In a matter of days, he was sleeping for three hours at a time. Then four. And so on. Soon he was out of our room and sleeping in his own crib. Major bonus! (Don’t tell my wife).
A few months after purchasing the DockATot, we took our first family trip. And even though Isaac, now four-months-old, probably wasn’t thrilled to be sleeping in a Pack ‘n Play in a strange hotel room on Miami Beach, with his trusty DockATot there he could have cared less. Dude knocked out like a champ. And by then, he was sleeping through the night. Yes, you read that correctly. THROUGH. THE. NIGHT.
As previously mentioned, I get the skepticism. I felt it too. Why should you have to pay $160 to get your kid to sleep? And in an ideal world with an ideal baby who sleeps on command, you wouldn’t. But let me tell you, those precious extra hours of sleep you’ll get back as a result are worth every penny.
Did it take Isaac a couple rough nights to transition out of the DockATot and into his crib when he got a bit older? It did. But hey, I get it: the kid liked his “dock.” Hell, there are days when I still wish I had my trusty childhood blankey. Don’t we all?