Here Come the Hammocks
What’s the latest trend in the “everything old is new again” department? Baby hammocks. At this year’s ABC show, three different companies were showing hammock models: the Hushamok, which has been available for about three months, the Miyo, which has just arrived, and the Amby Motion Bed, which has been around for a while.
Putting babies in hammocks to sleep is not unusual in many parts of the world. The practice originated hundreds of years ago with the Mayans in Latin America, and spread throughout Europe with the help of the Spanish explorers, but it has yet to gain popularity in the United States. The emergence of the hammock reminds me a lot of the migration of the sling. What started as an ancient practice first made inroads with the natural parenting crowd, and then finally became mainstream as celebrities made them popular and good design made them attractive.
The Amby reminds me a lot of my first sling, with not much grace or fashion sense. But the newer models are well-designed and will offer broader appeal.
Curious about whether a hammock was a wise investment, I was eager to test-drive one with Zev. I’ve been using a Hushamok since he was born, and I have really enjoyed having it. The Hushamok provides a very cozy, soft sleeping surface that gently swings and bounces with the baby’s movements.
The Hushamok Experience comes with the hammock, lovely 400-thread count sheets, the stand, a “leaf spring” and a travel bag. The whole thing collapses down into a small package that is very travel-friendly.
Motion is a newborn’s cue for sleep. The “leaf spring” is a curved piece of plastic that creates the buoyant suspension, and is the key to the Hushamok’s appeal for babies. The baby’s head is slightly elevated, making the Hushamok great for babies (like mine) with some reflux. I also loved the organic cotton, and the color options, which range from vibrant to neutral (I chose turquoise). I have taken my hammock with me on several trips and regularly use it in my bedroom. Positioned next to my bed, the hammock is within easy reach and I can easily bounce and swing the hammock to soothe the baby and get him back to sleep.
The only downside to a hammock is its relatively short lifespan. The weight limit on the Hushamok is 22 pounds, but it really shouldn’t be used once the baby is rolling over and/or moving around (though it takes a good bit of strength to roll over in a hammock). Swaddled well, a moderately sized and reasonably on-schedule (developmentally) baby will probably max out by 5 or 6 months old. Hushamok is coming out with an infant/toddler seat attachment (shown here, with their new Okoa, a sustainable, European beechwood stand) that can be used with newborns and toddlers up to 50 pounds. This will help to extend the life of the product.
We are also carrying the Miyo, which is even more hammock-like than the Hushamok – it is very soft and enclosed, almost like a sling, whereas the Hushamok has a slightly flatter sleeping surface. The Hushamok is only available right now in the Experience package, which includes everything you need for $379.99. Starting in January, you will be also able to purchase the hammock separately with one of two upgraded stands – the Okoa or the Usana, a lightweight aluminum option.
The Miyo is a modular system, so you can purchase just the hammock for $199.99, or choose a stand ($169.99) or even the “Love Handle” – a clamp that attaches to a door frame ($49.99). I have not tried the Miyo with Zev, but I have seen it several times, and I like it a lot.
So, is a hammock worth the investment? I think so. The Hushamok has definitely been more useful than any cradle or bassinet I’ve tried in the past, and those have a similarly short shelf life. If you are planning to have your baby sleep in your bedroom I actually think the Hushamok is just as good as a co-sleeper in terms of quick access to the baby – the bed surface is fairly low to the ground, so it is easy to reach in from the bed. And it is better in many ways, because of the numerous options for soothing motion (swing it, bounce it, etc.), and the easy portability.