Being a parent can be incredibly rewarding. It can also be incredibly draining, especially during the first year of a baby’s life. From weaning to teething, there’s no end to the difficult tasks new parents will face. One of the most difficult transitions parents make when they bring home a new baby, though, is the shift in their sleeping schedules.
Now, it’s no secret that parents can expect a decline in both total time spent asleep and overall sleep quality when a new baby arrives. What most people probably don’t realize, though, is that these effects can last more than just a few weeks or months. In fact, according to one study published in Sleep, it can take first-time parents up to 6 years to return to pre-baby sleeping patterns.
When parents don’t get enough sleep, they can feel mentally foggy, which in turn can make them more prone to accidents. Take this modest 2012 study, for example. It evaluated the sleeping patterns of new parents compared to non-parents, and found that new parents objectively experienced more “sleepiness associated impairments.” In other words, new parents were more likely to show increased sleepiness levels, decreased levels of alertness, and stunted reaction times.
A lot can go wrong when being a parent, and being sleep deprived doesn’t make anything easier. A large source of disrupted slumber comes from babies learning how to sleep all the way through the night. That’s why many parents are desperate to do anything to help their child fall—and stay—asleep. This quest for rest has resulted in many parents turning to products specially designed to help their infants sleep well. One such product that has garnered much attention is the DockATot®.
What is so great about DockATot?
DockATots are effectively baby loungers and positioners, made to offer versatility and convenience to parents. They have soft surfaces with raised sides in which parents can place their baby. Notably, the company claims to test the sides and bottom of this lounger for breathability. But that’s not all that they offer. Because accidents can happen when babies are involved, parents can remove the covers for easy cleaning.
DockATot Review Spotlight – Deluxe+ vs. Grand
Currently, two styles of docks are available. Those interested in seeing these docks can go to www.dockatot.com or continue reading to see our in-depth review below.
(Notably, these docks are not designed to go inside cribs, bassinets, or play yards, as this placement can increase the risk of harm. Additionally, parents shouldn’t place blankets or pillows inside their docks for similar reasons.)
DockATot Deluxe+ Review
Deluxe+ Fast Facts
According to the official website, the Deluxe+ dock is designed for “lounging, supervised napping and tummy time, co-sleeping, changing diapers, cuddling and playing” for babies up to 8 months old.
Perhaps the most popular reason why parents choose this positioner for their little ones? It seems to reduce babies’ stress levels. How does that work? It all goes back to the thoughtful design. You see, DockATot designed this lounger to feel like the womb. Specifically, the raised edges and softness of the materials imitate the enveloping security of the womb. So, when placed in this lounger, babies may feel safer, making it that much easier to get them to relax.
Easy to Clean
Some things in life are guaranteed, like taxes and babies making messes. Now, baby loungers can have lots of nice features. If they aren’t easy to clean, though, parents might not get too much use out of them. DockATots notably have removable, washable covers that make cleaning easy. Those who want lots of extra covers—because, again, children make lots of messes—can get those, too.
Another popular way parents use these loungers? To help with breastfeeding. Specifically, parents often get DockATots as places to rest their little ones between breastfeeding sessions.
Some baby equipment is heavy, bulky, or otherwise awkward to carry and move. Not the DockATot. This lightweight item is easy enough to transport, especially with available travel bags. (Parents should note, though, that they shouldn’t move around with a DockATot while their child is resting in it.)
Sometimes, it’s the extra little touch that makes all the difference. That’s why DockATot offers parents the option of personalizing their docks and covers with their little one’s name.
DockATot Grand Review
Grand Fast Facts
The Grand dock is for children between 9 and 36 months old. It has the same uses as the Deluxe+, as well as being able to “facilitate comfortable sleeping in toddler beds and twin beds.”
Facilitates Sleeping in New Beds
Making the transition from a crib to a big girl/boy bed can be a little intimidating for even the hardiest sleeper. The DockATot Grand can help make this switch a little easier. Because a baby who previously used the Deluxe+ will be used to the general DockATot layout, they’ll be more likely to find the Grand a comfortable, safe place.
So, moving the Grand into a twin bed can give a child an added sense of security when making that final transition. Eventually, the child can outgrow the Grand dock completely, slumbering just on their new twin-sized bed itself. All in all, this process would be a lot less straining than first attempting to bargain with a screaming child to switch to a completely new sleeping surface.
How Does DockATot Compare to Other Loungers?
Snuggle Me Organic Infant
DockATot isn’t the only baby lounger out there. The Snuggle Me Organic, for example, is a popular lounger similar to the DockATot, featuring raised edges, flat resting position, and a removable, washable cover. The official website states it is for “lounging, tummy time, sponge baths or [for use] as a changing station.”
So, how does DockATot compare to similar products, like the Snuggle Me?
Certifications and Materials
Snuggle Me Organic includes GOTS-certified organic cotton material. Now, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is an internationally trusted safety label. Notably, DockATot does not have certified organic materials. DockATot is, however, rated Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX, another international gold standard for safety testing. So, when it comes to certifications, both Snuggle Me and DockATot have reputable ones.
When choosing baby products, there may be no more important a consideration than breathability. How do these products fare in this regard? According the official Snuggle Me Organics site, their loungers’ cotton fabrics are “extremely air permeable.” Although, the site does not readily offer air permeability certifications to back up these claims. DockATot does. It meets the standards of BS4578, set by the internationally trusted BSI.
Place of Origin
Where are these loungers made? Well, Snuggle Me Organic loungers are made in the USA and DockATots in Europe.
How long can you use each product? Both Snuggle Me and DockATot offer both infant and toddler loungers, with the transition period between the two occurring around 9 months of age.
How easy are these items on the wallet? Well, an infant Snuggle Me Organic starts at $99 on the official site. DockATot’s cheapest infant dock starts at $175 (although gifts and prizes are available after submitting an email address). While this bump in price is certainly noticeable, many parents still believe DockATot to be the more worthwhile investment. One reason why people may opt for DockATot over its competitors is the documented air permeability certification.
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why many parents choose these docks, including the ones listed above. Although, while most are satisfied with their purchase, not everyone has praise for this company or its products.
Is DockATot Safe for Sleeping?
Recently, this brand has come under scrutiny for safety concerns. So, just what are people saying about this company and its products? And is there really any reason for concern—is The Dock truly a safe product? Let’s go into further detail about some of the largest talking points surrounding DockATot’s safety, so you can make that call for yourself.
First and foremost, many critics of this brand note that it seemingly contradicts many safety guidelines. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against the use of sleep positioners as they increase suffocation risks. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends newborns sleep face-up in bassinets, cribs, or play yards located in the same room as their parents.[5,6] In other words, no co-sleeping or bumpers… which seems to throw these docks’ safety into question.
DockATot recognizes these official recommendations. In regards to the FDA’s recommendations, though, they also state that “others believe … co-sleeping provides benefits.” In other words, they also recognize that many parents crave the benefits of co-sleeping, which may include bonding time and easier breastfeeding.
Now, it’s important to note that DockATot isn’t classified as a bassinet, crib, or play yard. That does not mean you should place this lounger inside any of these sleeping spaces, though. In fact, the company directly advises against placing their docks inside bassinets, cribs, and play yards. Why? Because this placement increases the risk of children getting stuck in between their loungers and the edges of their cribs… and getting stuck can lead to serious injury or even death. Unfortunately, many parents tend to use their docks (or similar products) in this manner. If you own a DockATot, do not make this mistake.
The Breathability Label
Another issue critics take with these docks is the validity of their breathability safety label. In other words, people are skeptical about just how breathable the sides of these docks are. After all, one of the largest safety hazards of baby bumpers is the risk of suffocation… which would seemingly be a strike against this brand.
To assuage parental fears, DockATot claims their tubes’ air permeability is set according to BS4578. Now, BS4578 refers to specifications for testing the “hardness of, and for air flow through, infants’ pillows.” In other words, DockATot is effectively saying that its docks’ tubes meet the requirements of certain standards set by the British Standards Institution (BSI). So, the implication is that these docks would pose less suffocation risk than traditional bumpers because the sides allow enough airflow for breathing. This rating doesn’t assuage everyone’s fears, though.
Firstly, BS4578 is set by BSI, a British-based organizaton. Notably, the U.S. doesn’t have a similar standard for breathability in place, which makes some U.S.-based parents uneasy. However, BSI is a trustworthy non-profit that serves many people around the world. So, just because BSI isn’t U.S.-based doesn’t mean it’s not reliable.
Secondly, BS4578 was originally published back in 1970; many take issue with a product basing part of its safety claims on standards created nearly 50 years ago. It’s important to note, though, that the BSI website claims these standards were confirmed in 2018, and BSI lists BS4578 as “Current.” So, these docks aren’t actually using an outdated safety standard, but one that BSI currently accepts.
Consumer Reports Findings
One 2019 Consumer Reports article makes the most devastating claims about the safety of DockATots. Namely, this article reported that two infant deaths “involved the DockATot.” More information about these cases, however, was not made readily available.
Now, this article did discuss other infant deaths linked to baby products somewhat like flat-lying DockATots. Importantly, though, some of these products had babies resting at an incline. And inclines are huge no-no’s when it comes to safe infant sleeping practices.
Furthermore, some infant deaths may be linked to parents using products in ways that went against manufacturers’ warnings. For instance, some parents placed these products, like the now-recalled Nap Nanny, inside bassinets, cribs, and play yards. This placement is something most manufacturers advise against, as it increases safety hazards.
Overall, it’s hard to do much more than speculate about the two DockATot-related infant deaths when Consumer Reports provided no additional information and DockATot declined to comment on the Consumer Reports article. These cases could very well be a result of a poor design. However, it’s also entirely possible that some parents may not have used these products in the way they were designed to be used. Unfortunately, any object can be dangerous when used improperly.
When your baby is a happy sleeper, you’re a happy sleeper, too. Is baby’s safety a priority? Absolutely. But, parents need options when it comes to managing their own well-being, too. After all, sleep deprivation can seriously harm decision-making abilities and alertness levels, which can be a dangerous state of being for any parent.
Overall, there are plenty of reasons why a parent would not want to invest in a DockATot or product like it. Conversely, there are also plenty of reasons why many parents continue to get these docks for their homes, not the least of which is convenience. Ultimately, what baby gear parents get is up to them and their pediatrician.
Those who are looking for other ways to get their little one to rest can check out this list of soothing baby sleep playlists. Those looking for a specialized safe sleep product can discover some organic crib mattresses with our in-depth reviews.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Safe Sleep Recommendations to Protect Against SIDS, Sleep-Related Infant Deaths. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Safe-Sleep-Recommendations-to-Protect-Against-SIDS.aspx
AAP. (2016). Safe Sleep and Your Baby: How Parents Can Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Suffocation. Retrieved from https://patiented.solutions.aap.org/handout.aspx?gbosid=156543
British Standard Institution. (Confirmed 2018). BS 4578:1970. Retrieved on December 5, 2019, from https://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail/?pid=000000000000084444
Consumer Product Safety Commission. (2013). Nap Nanny and Chill Infant Recliners Recalled by Baby Matters LLC After Five Infant Deaths; CPSC, Firm Settle Administrative Litigation. Retreived from https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2013/Nap-Nanny-and-Chill-Infant-Recliners-Recalled-by-Baby-Matters-LLC-After-Five-Infant-Deaths-CPSC-Firm-Settle-Administrative-Litigation-/
Gay, C. L., Lee, K. A., & Lee, S. Y. (2004). Sleep patterns and fatigue in new mothers and fathers. Biological research for nursing, 5(4), 311–318. doi:10.1177/1099800403262142
Food and Drug Administration. (2019). Do Not Use Infant Sleep Positioners Due to the Risk of Suffocation. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/do-not-use-infant-sleep-positioners-due-risk-suffocation
Insana, S. P., & Montgomery-Downs, H. E. (2013). Sleep and sleepiness among first-time postpartum parents: a field- and laboratory-based multimethod assessment. Developmental psychobiology, 55(4), 361–372. doi:10.1002/dev.21040
Peachman, R.R. (2019). More Infant Sleep Products Linked to Deaths, a Consumer Reports Investigation Finds. Consumer reports. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/child-safety/more-infant-sleep-products-linked-to-deaths/
Richter, D., Krämer, M.D., Tang, N.K.Y., Montgomery-Downs, H.E., & Lemola S. (2019). Long-term effects of pregnancy and childbirth on sleep satisfaction and duration of first-time and experienced mothers and fathers. Sleep, 42(4). https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsz015