Pennsylvania Mom Introduces Solution for Fussy, Sleepless Babies

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A new take on an old idea, the Stowers Swaddler helps weary parents soothe their crying newborns to sleep.

The creamy-soft skin. The distinctive scent. The warmth and closeness of a tiny life cuddled in your arms. Who wouldn't instantly fall in love with a newborn baby? But after parents get home with their brand-new bundles of joy, they often find their elation withers. Newborn sweetness gives way to other realities: fussiness that refuses every attempt at calming, pitiful crying that brings adults to tears as well, and long, sleepless nights for baby and parent alike.

Generations of mothers worldwide have known one sure-fire solution: swaddling, or tightly bundling an infant so that her own movement will not cause distress by triggering the "startle reflex." Unfortunately, this time-tested technique has not been widely encouraged in the U.S., and countless parents who do try swaddling find it tricky to master. Luckily, parents everywhere now have a simple solution: the Stowers Swaddler.

The device's inventor, Phylana Stowers, acknowledges that learning to properly wrap an infant isn't always easy. As a maternity unit nurse, she learned to swaddle all the babies in her care almost without a thought. A mother of five, Stowers used the technique on her own children as well. But when Stowers' sister called one night desperate for help doing "that wrappy thing," Stowers decided it was time for an different solution. She whipped out her sewing machine and created the Stowers Swaddler, a foolproof wrapping system that "fixes the swaddling mistakes people make."

Measuring roughly 40 inches at the top, Stowers' creation is wider than a regular blanket. The extra space means a parent doesn't have to struggle to completely secure a squirming infant. The swaddler's length is a careful design as well: at 21 inches long, there's plenty of space to comfortably contain even the longest babies -- and room to grow.

The idea was such a hit for Stowers' sister that Stowers decided to try to market it. One of her first supporters was Kim Lavine, author of Mommy Millionaire. "Swaddling is a lost art that nobody knows about anymore," says Lavine, herself a mother. "My first son was six weeks premature and didn't sleep more than an hour and a half at a time the first three months till someone showed me how to truly swaddle him tightly."

Lavine attests to the value in Stowers' simpler solution: "There a million new moms every year who need a swaddler!" Indeed, since Stowers introduced her product for sale, moms from all over the country have found relief from sleepless nights. Even an inexperienced parent can master swaddling with this blanket, as demonstrated when the Stowers Swaddler was used in a simulated fussy baby challenge on an episode of Dr. Phil.

There are no gimmicks. Stowers explains that her blanket is simply a twist on the familiar wrapping technique seen in any parenting or maternity magazine or class. To swaddle, the baby is placed at the top edge of the blanket. The left corner is wrapped around the baby, then the right corner is wrapped across the opposite way. The difference with the Stowers Swaddler is the lack of "that meddlesome middle corner that gives people such a hard time." In its place is a simple pocket that requires no folding or tucking. And the left and right side flaps close securely across the infant with hook-and-loop tape, making any further adjusting unnecessary.

Concerns that swaddling causes discomfort for a baby are common but incorrect. In her years of neonatal nursing, Stowers encountered many parents who believed that after nine months' confinement in the tight space of mother's womb, "babies need to be free. But they don't want to be free. It's very scary for them. Snug is more familiar. They need time to transition to the big open world. That's what swaddling is good for."

Though a solid night's sleep is boon enough for weary parents, there is evidence that swaddling has health benefits for infants as well. In the past two decades, multiple studies have suggested that when put to bed on their backs, infants are far less likely to die of SIDS. When back-sleeping is combined with swaddling, the danger decreases even more since swaddled infants are less able to roll into the risky tummy-down position. Furthermore, in a Washington University study published in Journal of Pediatrics in 2002, 7 out of 9 babies who ordinarily refused to sleep when placed on their backs became calm enough to do so when first swaddled.

Stowers' swaddling blanket is available on her newly revamped online store, Stowers Swaddlers & Stationery. In addition to the swaddler, the store offers a selection of handmade note cards, photo albums, and other unique baby gifts.

Visit Stowers Swaddlers & Stationery at http://www.stowersswaddler.com.

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