Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Snug as a Bug - In Ten Steps

Just recently I said Jordan and I take pride in making things to help Asher out with every day activities that need modifications. Well I decided to listen to my own words and finally make something to help Asher out with with an important task. A very important task. 


Sleep has been a battle with Asher since he was about two. He is usually a good sleeper but being uncomfortable often wakes him, sometimes with painful leg cramps and often lately with bad dreams. There is not a ton I can do to prevent either of those occurrences unfortunately, but I can help him with the single biggest sleep issue he has: positioning.

Asher likes to sleep on his tummy. Not sure why specifically, but that is the only way he gets a good night's sleep. I think he feels most secure in that position as his startle reflex kicks in very easily on his back (pesky ol' brain injury has prevented a few infant reflexes from disappearing when they should have). The problem with sleep is that he often manages to roll himself over to his back, and then in his sleepy state doesn't realize he can roll himself back over like he can when he's awake. Well you know how much we all toss and turn in our sleep, so that usually means we are up once, twice, or even three times a night, depending on the night, to reposition him and flip him back over. It was becoming too much for him and for me. I have four and a half and eight year olds - I want sleep! (Ha, I know, wishful thinking). I decided it was time to do something about it.

Maybe because I'd recently bought the special needs swing, but my first instinct was to look for some sort of ready made product that I could purchase off the shelf. That did me no good. The only thing that came remotely close to what I was thinking of was huge, vinyl, and - you guessed it - hundreds of dollars. So to the drawing board I went. 

Unfortunately, my drawing board was blank. Luckily I belong to a couple of really cool online groups, including one specifically for making things for your special needs kids. We parents really are a resourceful group! I put the question out there and was flooded with great responses. And the awesome thing was that while no one suggested exactly what I was looking for, people's responses got my wheels turning. I took all of their suggestions to come up with exactly what had been spinning around in my head but couldn't quite be executed without their wise words. I quickly ran through a mental list in my head, got my mother in law on the case with an old sheet and her sewing machine, and we were in action. So here we go, I know the suspense must be killing you, this is riveting stuff. Asher's sleep situation solved, in ten easy steps.

Step 1: Dig out Rio's unused camping foam. a) We aren't regular campers and b) I think she deserves to upgrade to a thermarest if we ever are. Cut that foam in half, and slice your finger with the exacto knife while doing so. Or don't - your choice. I personally chose the cut yourself method. It's more dramatic.

Step 2. Take each half, roll it up, and secure it with tape. I used packing tape.

Step 3: Cover with garbage bags and neatly and tightly tape up. This makes the rolls easier to slide, but also cleaner (think sweaty kid at night).

Step 4: Measure. Cut. Pin. Sew. Sew. Sew. (No pictures of that step, we were working too hard. Or I should say Gramma was. I am a bit of a slave driver!).

Step 5: Take the finished product that looks something like this. Wrap over mattress and tuck underneath, keeping it secure. 

Step 6: Insert plastic covered foam rolls in pockets that are sewn closed at the top but open at the bottom. Secure bottom with diaper pins from underneath so the squirmy little man can't push the rolls out the bottom, making all of your hard work useless. 

Step 7: Put little man to sleep. Wait for full night of sleep without repositioning. Note - the rolls are far enough apart to give Asher plenty of room to move between them, but not so far apart that they don't do their job. 

Step 8: Celebrate! It worked. In the weeks you've been using it, you've had to reposition exactly TWO times. And it didn't cost you a penny! (other than blood, sweat and tears).

Step 9: Analyze it far more than any normal person should, and think of ways you could make it even better. For instance, the next model will:
  • Have a snap at the bottom of the pocket, not a diaper pin.
  • Have narrower pockets for the foam rolls so they can't move farther apart while he sleeps 
  • Instead of being a separate entity wrapped over top of the bottom sheet, attach completely to the fitted sheet to prevent bunching
Step 10: Include one final and mostly unrelated picture of the little cutie and his BFF baby rhino, and give yourself a big pat on the back for a job well done. 


  1. Genius!! It looks awesome -- functional and comfy -- and Asher with his baby rhino is too cute!

    I can relate to the heightened startle reflex, too...mine has gotten a little better as I've gotten older, but I still startle very easily! My brothers have started announcing their presence before they enter a room to avoid startling me. ;-)

    1. Glad to hear the startle decreased for you a little bit...poor Asher jumps out of his skin! Glad your blog is back :)

  2. Love the idea! has me thinking for K except she has to sleep on her back. When I saw the post title I was thinking ok maybe a way to get a child to sleep, fortunately Jordan was not working last week when K was in PICU she ended falling asleep upright on the high normal chairs. One last question a pattern for the fabric cover?

  3. Love this and love sleep! Startle reflex here too but lessened slightly this year. Coop has started melatonin tablets to help him get to sleep, he's getting 3 hours more sleep a night and so much brighter! Pep still wakes up most nights too! Bron

  4. What a great idea. D is a tummy sleeper, most likely due to his sleep apnea, but the startle reflex probably didn't help. This would have been great when he was younger!

  5. Great idea. As I started reading the problem, my initial thought was pretty much the exact same thing, but using those big foam pool "noodles." May have saved your fingers from the exacto knife's wrath. ;)

    1. I thought of pool noodles but Asher is so strong I didn't think they'd contain him. Someone originally suggested just putting a pool noodle under the fitted sheet on each side - no sewing required - but I knew he was too strong for that. Maybe a couple pool noodles taped together though?

  6. So awesome!!! Same design as a very fancy co-sleeping mat that sells for a lot of dough! I'm so glad you made this,awesome bed hack!!