A Q&A with the inventor of the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit
The Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit is getting great buzz from parents who praise how it helps their babies get to sleep and stay asleep. However, since it’s designed for a very particular stage of baby sleep, it can take some explaining. So we went straight to the source: here’s our Q&A with mom inventor Maureen Howard!
Q: How does the Baby Merlin Sleepsuit improve baby’s sleep? It looks like you’ve gotten some great testimonials from families who have used it – got any great stories to share with our readers?
The Magic Sleepsuit has a number of design features that help to provide a secure feeling in a safe environment. To my knowledge, this is the only product that combines the benefits of both the swaddle and sleep sack in one product.
Like the swaddle, the Magic Sleepsuit provides comfort and security and helps muffle babies’ reflexive startles to prevent the baby from waking prematurely, and provides proprioceptive input to help calm the baby. However, it is not as confining as the swaddle, so it is appropriate as the next step from the swaddle. Like the sleep sacks, it zips on and off so that the baby sleeps safely without any loose blankets in the crib. Additionally, the Magic Sleepsuit promotes back sleeping, the recommended safe sleep position by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Here’s a testimonial from our friends at Boston NAPS:
As a new mom to my first child in February of 2015, I thought I had it all figured out. I had been a labor and delivery nurse for over 5 years, and had been running a company that specializes in providing nurses to new and experienced moms and families to assist them after they delivery their babies for almost 4 years. It was a harsh reality that set in, when I realized I didn’t have all the answers, and found myself googling questions constantly (something I tell our clients… NEVER to do!).
On one particular night, my daughter was 9 weeks old, and had been waking up the previous 2 nights at 2am because she had kicked herself out of the swaddle. It became clear to me the second night, that this was the reason she was waking up, and not because she was hungry. If I re-swaddled her, and gave her a pacifier she happily went back to sleep until 6am. By the third night of this, I was frustrated and exhausted, and found myself googling “what do you do when your baby is getting out of the swaddle?” at 2am. The results of my search unanimously lead me to the Magic Merlin Sleep Suit, a product I hadn’t heard of. So I did what any rational (ha!) mother would do at 2am, I went on amazon, found the product, selected same day delivery, and patiently waited for it to show up at my house that day, which it did.
I took it out of the box, and my husband and I agreed that we were skeptical of this “sumo suit” but ultimately agreed that it couldn’t hurt to try it for one night, and if it worked GREAT, if it didn’t no big deal. Well, I am here to tell you, the Magic Merlin Sleep Suit is indeed magic. I put my daughter in it that night, and she slept through the night and has ever since (she is now 16 months old, and we transitioned her out of the suit at 7 months old). My husband and I are such firm supporters of this product, that we now buy it for all of our friends who have a baby. We tell people all the time it was the best money we ever spent, and will absolutely use the Magic Merlin Sleep Suit for our future children. We truly couldn’t have been happier with this product and the results it yielded for my daughter and our family.
Q: My understanding is that the Baby Merlin Sleepsuit is meant to serve a similar purpose to a swaddle, but for slightly older babies, corresponding to a precise developmental stage. How and when should parents use it?
The Magic Sleepsuit is designed to be introduced when babies are transitioning out of the swaddle, which is typically around 3 months of age. Babies typically show signs that they are ready to move on from the swaddle. The timing of introduction is one of the most important factors in the proper use and success of the Magic Sleepsuit. The Magic Sleepsuit is designed for a specific developmental window, so if it’s introduced too early (when baby should still be swaddled) or too late (when they have been out of the swaddle for a while and are ready for more freedom of movement) it will not be the right match.
The fit of the Magic Sleepsuit is the other key factor to its effectiveness and safety. The Magic Sleepsuit has to fit properly so the baby should be at least at the minimum weight of 12 pounds (and at the right developmental stage as described above). Our weight ranges are guidelines since all babies are different shapes and sizes. We recommend parents judge based on the size clothing their baby is currently wearing. We don’t recommend sizing up with the Magic Sleepsuit since if it is too big, it will not do what it is intended to, and for safety reasons, it should not be so big that a baby could wiggle out of it and have something loose in the crib.
Some signs that it is too big: baby can pull knees up into the body of the Magic Sleepsuit; baby can slides arms out of the openings or shoulders are popping out of neckline; zippers are up near the face/chin. The scooped neck is designed to keep fabric away from baby’s face, so when it fits properly, the zippers should lay on the upper chest. We tell customers they are always welcome to email us pictures of their babies in their Magic Sleepsuit and we will gladly give them sizing feedback.
The Magic Sleepsuit is designed and recommended for back sleeping in the crib, the recommended safe sleep position for babies. It is not recommended for co-sleeping or in the Rock N Play. It is not recommended for side sleeping, tummy sleeping, or inclined sleeping.
Q: When should families stop using the Magic Sleepsuit, and why?
The Magic Sleepsuit is designed for a specific developmental window from swaddle transition until babies are ready for more freedom of movement (the exact age varies from baby to baby). The older they get, the more their reflexive startles diminish, so they don’t need the Magic Sleepsuit physiologically the way they do as younger babies. We tell parents to look for signs that the baby is starting to “fight” the Magic Sleepsuit (similar to the way they start to fight the swaddle) – e.g. squirming, scooting, trying to roll while in the Magic Sleepsuit, or rolling over while in the Magic Sleepsuit. These are all signs that they are ready for the next developmental stage of having more freedom of movement in their sleep, so you want to give it to them by transitioning them out.
When making the transition, some parents (including myself) have layered some cotton pajamas with a sleeper (or sleepsack) on top (depending on the temperature, of course). This gives a little fabric thickness similar to the Magic Sleepsuit and still allows the baby to wear their warmth and keeps the crib free of anything loose, as recommended. Typically, if babies are transitioned out of the Magic Sleepsuit when they are ready, the transition goes smoothly.
Q: The Baby Merlin Sleepsuit looks pretty toasty – is it still usable in the summer?
Even though The Magic Sleepsuit appears toasty, it is designed with open hands and feet to allow heat to dissipate as they sleep. As long as the baby’s room is kept at the AAP recommended temperature (which is on the cooler side) and a baby is dressed properly underneath the Magic Sleepsuit, it can be used no matter the season.
Like with any sleep product, parents need to make sure their baby is at a comfortable temperature. We suggest just a diaper, onesie or a one-layer cotton pajama. We do not recommend anything more than one layer of cotton for breathability. We tell parents to monitor their baby’s comfort level by feeling their chest or back (hands and feet often feel cold and are not a good measure of body temperature). When first using the Magic Sleepsuit, parents may want to try it for a nap first (shorter duration) to help judge how to best dress their baby under the Magic Sleepsuit. Babies should not feel clammy or sweaty at all.
Q: How did you choose the materials for the Magic Sleepsuit? What fabrics are available?
Since my initial design was to emulate what made my son Will feel cozy and content, I chose the microfleece outer layer to provide warmth and coziness. For the inner layer, I chose to use cotton for its softness and breathability since it was against his skin.
The Magic Sleepsuit was introduced in 2008 with the Microfleece outer layer in pink, blue and yellow. Two years ago we introduced the cotton version of the Magic Sleepsuit in a cream color, and it sold so well that we then introduced it in our original colors as well (pink, blue, and yellow).
Q: How did you get the idea for the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit?
Most products are created to meet a need or solve a problem, and my story is no different. I had a problem I needed to solve because I was one tired new mom! At about 3 months old, my baby stopped sleeping for long stretches because he could no longer safely be swaddled. He would kick and squirm out of the swaddle, which would leave him in his crib with a loose blanket, which I knew was not safe. As a result, I too stopped sleeping, as I had to hold or rock him throughout the day and night to get him to sleep. It was very frustrating, and I felt like a failure as mom because we were both constantly tired and unhappy.
Desperate to fix the situation, I read a lot of books and tried many products and techniques designed to help with sleep and nothing worked. What I did know was that my son slept well in his stroller when bundled. After our walks, I would wheel him into the house in his stroller and he would sleep for hours. I knew this could not be a permanent solution, because he was not learning how to sleep on his own, and I knew he needed to sleep in his crib.
So I used my instincts as a mom and my education and training as a physical therapist and started experimenting with sleepers that would simulate that environment but for use in the crib. I created a sleeper that had some fabric thickness which would provide the cozy secure feeling my son needed to sleep. I also designed it with a scooped neck to keep the fabric away from his face, and two zippers to make diaper-changing easy. I left the hands and feet exposed for additional ventilation, so that he would not overheat in the sleeper.
He loved his new sleeper, and we all were much happier since we were getting the sleep we needed. He was now napping two or three times a day for up to two hours at a time and sleeping for at least 8 hour stretches at night. My husband and I would say, “It’s magic!” and that’s how it became known as the Magic Sleepsuit. At around 9 months, we noticed that his startle reflex had diminished and was not waking him as often, so we transitioned him out of Magic Sleepsuit. To our relief, he continued to sleep well on his own, which was the ultimate goal.
I put the sleeper away until my second child arrived and was having the same sleep problems. I pulled it back out, and we had the same great results with my daughter. I started to think that I created something unique and effective. I felt compelled to share my concept with other parents. I made a few more prototype Magic Sleepsuits and shared them with family and friends. When they all had the same positive results, I became convinced I had created a truly special product. Once I realized there was nothing on the market like it, I decided to look into starting a business selling the Magic Sleepsuit, and my journey began.
My biggest ah-ha moment came during a test that my husband and I decided to try with our third child. We videotaped him both in and out of the Magic Sleepsuit while sleeping. First we watched him sleep in the Magic Sleepsuit, as he startled in the Sleepsuit, his startle was muffled, he awakened a little then drifted right back off to sleep. Our next test was without the Sleepsuit, and as soon as he startled, he woke up and immediately began to cry, unable to settle himself. That’s when I looked at my husband and said, “I think we really have something here!”
It took several years to launch a market-ready product. It was much more difficult and time consuming than I had ever imagined, but it was equally rewarding. Today hundreds of thousands of babies and their parents enjoy longer, more restful sleep because of the Magic Sleepsuit. I love knowing that my creation is helping so many families “enjoy the magic of a sleeping baby” in our Magic Sleepsuit.
Q: We love working with parent-inventors – a lot of our favorite products have been created by moms! What advice would you give to other moms who have a great idea for an innovative product for babies or kids?
If you truly believe in your product, take time to write a business plan, get good advice, have a support system in place, and then go for it. Read and research the market, competing products, the manufacturers, etc., to see if your idea has merit and if it is feasible to build a company around your idea. Don’t let anyone stop you from pursuing your dream!
Q: The Magic Sleepsuit is getting great buzz – I was surprised to find it on a friend’s registry that wasn’t even at Magic Beans! Do you recommend this product for every family registering for their baby?
Absolutely! What new parent doesn’t want the gift of sleep? Many of our parents call the Magic Sleepsuit a “game changer” that saved their sanity when making the transition from the swaddle.
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