Sleep fighter (noun): baby who counterattacks sleep with ninja-like technique
Startle reflex (noun): arm and leg ‘kapow’ combo used by a baby for self-defense, also an excellent starter strategy for escape from most swaddles
The smallest change in environment can activate your baby’s startle reflex. A small noise, the sensation of falling or even a change in temperature will make them lurch in alarm. Their arms and legs will snap out suddenly, they might hit themselves with confusion, they might scratch their own face with their razor-sharp fingernails and they will punch and kick at the same time.
Suddenly alert, your baby mentally checks the perimeter and then needs you to spend the next hour (and then some) trying to help them get back to sleep.
Your baby’s night ninja is the ultimate sleep fighter. Attackers could be coming from four different directions when one of them steps on a twig – and ‘KAPOW!’ all four assailants are dealt with with one fell swoop – and all this while you thought your baby was soundly asleep. And that’s just with their startle reflex starter move.
It’s actually a pretty impressive skill – this sleep fighting. Unfortunately for us parents, it means we also have to summons our inner ninja as we expertly tiptoe around, slink in shadows and ‘become white noise’ in our efforts to keep the baby asleep. We swaddle to try to prevent them from waking themselves with the startle reflex but they keep coming up with new moves to break free.
While their sleep fighting routine might actually be useful in their future career as an Mixed Martial Artist or a Kung Fu movie extra, it is not particularly useful for anyone in the family wanting the ‘Holy Grail’ of life with a new baby – sleep.
Babies are born Jiu Jitsu masters – they do their sleep fighting from their backs and they can ‘shrimp’ out of the best swaddle. It turns out that babies actually have some pretty dirty sleep fighting habits and use techniques that would be frowned upon in sanctioned combat sport. Eye gouges, headbutts, fish hooks, pinches, scratches, bites and kicks to the groin are all par for the course of being a normal sleep fighting baby.
Do you recognise any of these elements of sleep fighting?
NEWBORN: Unusually long fingernails, back fists and straight leg kicking combos.
4 WEEKS: Jab – jab, cross, upper cut, wild kicking,headbutts.
6 WEEKS: The one sharp fingernail you missed, the back arch bust out bridge and the double-leg push kick.
12 WEEKS: Undercover un-tucker (a mysterious move no-one has yet witnessed), grab-grab-hands and multi-slicing finger nails.
6 MONTHS: Super-strength, pummelling, butterfly guard, complex kicking combinations , clawing, cheek squeezing, death grips and the power shrimp.
It’s exhausting and we are just the spectators. But what can we do about our baby Kung Fu?
The primary combative measure to sleep fighting is to swaddle your baby so that they not only feel secure but also that they stay secured. Babies combine movements of their arms and legs with shrimping movements to gradually break out of most swaddles and blankets over the course of a nap or night-time sleep. A truly effective swaddle must combat sleep fighting by preventing your baby from using their arms and legs at the same time to break free. A successful swaddle will also repel even the best shrimping technique. Once you find the right swaddle, your baby cannot wake themselves with their night ninja routine and in the fight against sleep fighting – you will win.
NB: It is a little known fact that leading MMA fighters are now swaddled as part of their basic training in order to test their fighting prowess and strength.**
Very few have been able to match the power to weight ratio of a newborn and all fighters concur that it is due to an expert combination of both leg and arm movements together that allows babies to successfully break free from swaddles.
The Outie Snuggle Shrug combats a baby’s sleep fighting stratagem by side-stepping all of their kicking efforts. Baby kick escapes are blocked by swaddling the upper body only. With arm movements contained and kicks encouraged even, the ultimate sleep fighter can settle again quickly. Wing fold technology is shrimp proof and the swaddle has been tested by the toughest sleep fighters we could find.
Tried, tested and approved by The Baby Sleep Consultant.
P.S. The Outie Snuggle Shrug is the undisputed heavy weight champion of swaddles.
** totally not fact