Before our babies are born, many of us are under the illusion that children's sleepwear is all about gorgeous patterns and adorable pyjama sets.
But the moment we see the ferocity of a midwife’s swaddle, we know that sleepwear is so much more than an outfit. The right swaddle can soothe a baby’s reflux. The right sleeping bag can settle a toddler to sleep. And perhaps most importantly, the right pyjamas can ensure our children can sleep through the night at a safe temperature.
ergoPouch know this all too well, and are committed to creating sleepwear for children from birth up until five years of age. Created in Australia using our renowned organic cotton, bamboo and merino, the brand is now shipped all over the world to parents who have realised the beauty – and the functionality – of their adorable pieces.
We spoke to ergoPouch about their innovative products, creating healthy sleep habits, and our favourite topic of all – how to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Tell us a little bit about the inception of ergoPouch.
ergoPouch was launched in 2008 and has come to be an award- winning global leader in baby and toddler sleepwear. CEO and Founder, Alina Sack was inspired to produce a range of sleeping bags after discovering her son Xavier was a challenged sleeper and resisted sleep. Distraught after being advised by sleep school coaches that her child fell into a 10% of babies who failed the program, Alina needed to find other measures.
She noticed Xavier was getting himself tangled in his sleeping bag and, with no prior design experience, went to design a slim line bag that would work to restrict large movements with added additional features including shoulder stretch inserts and side panels with breathable, natural fibres. Alas the design worked and Xavier began to sleep well through the night. From there, the product was requested by friends and quickly founds itself into the mainstream Australian market.
Fast forward 10 years later, and ergoPouch has become synonymous with premium safe-sleep products for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. The brand is now globally recognised, and the product range has increased to Swaddles, Sleeping Bags, our award-winning Sleep Suit Bag, Layers (pyjamas), Winter Onesies and Sleep Accessories such as sheets, robes for the Mama’s, carry beds and more.
The brand is driving product innovations and technology advancements, such as Joey the world’s first trackable comforter.
How can the right sleepwear help the most sleep-resistant babies (and their sleep deprived mothers)?
There are several things that can interrupt sleep or deter a baby or toddler from settling into a sleep routine. While we don’t have the magic answer to all these issues, what we do know is that maintaining a comfortable body temperature and position during sleep means less sleep interruptions.
We introduced a TOG rating system across all products in our range to help parents dress their child appropriately for their room temperatures. Combined with organic and natural fibre materials for breathability, the TOG system works to keep your child comfortable, warm and safe.
We’ve also taken different age and development milestones into account when designing our sleepwear. For example, a newborn baby who has a startle reflex needs the firm security and enclosed feeling of our Cocoon Swaddle, which is also stretchy to allow them small arm-movements for self-soothing in sleep. A wriggly toddler who has just learnt to walk may get frustrated with the restrictions of a sleeping bag, so our Sleep Suit Bag gives their legs freedom whilst still acting as a sleep-bag for warmth and sleep cues. A pre-schooler who is in a big bed may kick off their blankets in the night and get cold, so our padded Winter Onesie acts as a super-warm pyjama onesie that can be used without blankets.
We’ve got a sleepwear solution for all ages and milestones from newborn to 5 years.
Swaddling can be a massive challenge for parents (particularly at 3am). Can you tell us about how the ergoCocoon helps with that?
The Cocoon Swaddle Bag is our no-origami solution to safe-sleep swaddling! Sleeping a baby in a swaddle is effective, because it helps control the startle (moro) reflex that can wake a baby, and also mimics the enclosed feeling of the womb. However, the origami of wrapping can be a challenge to master, and can be difficult for nappy-explosions or dream-feeds in the middle of the night. Our Cocoon Swaddle Bag is a zip-up swaddle that covers the 3 S’s of safe sleep:
- Stretchy, close-fit material provides comfort whilst allowing small arm movements for self-soothing
- The arms-in mode from newborn controls the startle reflex to prevent unnecessary waking
- Organic cotton and bamboo is soft, skin-friendly and comfortable for your baby
- The bell-shaped design of the Cocoon promotes the ideal hip and shoulder position for growth and development
- Stretchy material allows for full chest expansion when breathing
- The 2-way zipper makes the Cocoon easy to put on (and keep on, during dream feeds). Zip-up from the bottom for simple overnight nappy changes without disturbing your sleeping baby
- The Cocoon comes in three TOG-ratings for warmth, depending on the temperature of your room. TOG-rated materials mean the Cocoon can be used alone without the need for additional blankets. This prevents overheating for babies who can’t yet regulate their body temperature, or the risk of blankets being pulled over the face
- When your baby shows signs of wanting to roll, the arms-out mode (using the arm poppers) converts the swaddle to a sleeping bag, making it safe for when baby rolls over in their sleep
What tips do you have for ensuring a great night’s sleep for our babies (and ourselves)?
Has any parent nailed that?! While different sleep challenges appear at different ages and milestones, a consistent bedtime routine will go a long way to riding the peaks and troughs of your child’s sleep journey.
Paying attention to your baby’s sleep cues, dressing them in safe-sleep products appropriate for their age and room temperature, and keeping distractions to a minimum around bed time can also help.
What are some of the biggest myths around sleep and babies?
New mothers are bombarded with a lot of myths and well-meaning advice when it comes to getting a baby to sleep. For example, all babies should sleep through the night from an early age, or it’s OK to swaddle your baby for as long as you like. A lot of that information is the result of caring people who have had similar situations and want to share their experiences. Unfortunately, though, not all babies are the same and something that worked for one baby, may not be appropriate or safe for another.
Additionally, the world of baby sleep attracts marketing of ideas and products and some will promote anything to parents if it makes money. Sadly this leaves desperate parents being offered information that is either inappropriate for them or their baby.
Just remember that nobody knows their baby as well as their parents, so if in doubt, consult your gut feeling as the instinct that surpasses all other.
Can you tell us a bit about hip health and the importance of this with relation to how we wrap our babies for bed?
Many studies have shown that tight wrapping in the “papoose” position – with the legs held straight – can lead to hip dysplasia and dislocation. When this practice is stopped the frequency of dislocation drops significantly. When wrapping babies, its recommended to leave enough room for their legs to move freely. ergoPouch products are ergonomically designed with a bell-shaped bottom for extra legroom and made from stretchy organic cotton or bamboo to allow babies to move their legs comfortably and adopt the ‘frog-leg’ position.
In fact, our swaddles are also perfect for babies who have hip dysplasia as they can be used with legs free if needed, while still keeping the arms comfortably swaddled. We’ve even tested our Cocoon Swaddle Bag on baby Grace, born with hip dysplasia as a result of a breech position – it fitted comfortably over her brace with room to spare.
ergoPouch swaddles, sleeping bags and sleep suit bags have received the “hip-healthy” designation from The International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI). The International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of those afflicted with hip dysplasia.
The fabric we choose to dress our babies in for bed is so important - given we need to keep them warm and comfortable, but regulate their temperature enough that they’re safe. Can you tell us about the fabrics you use?
ergoPouch Cocoon Swaddle Bags, Sleeping Bags, Sleep Suit Bags, Winter Onesies and Layers are made from breathable, natural fibres organic cotton, bamboo and merino.
We know babies sleep better in natural fibres for the simple reason that they’re breathable, and keep your little one’s body at an even temperature. For the newborns, this is especially important as they cannot regulate their body temperature. It sounds so simple, but you’d be surprised at the number of sleepwear products on the market that use polyester and synthetic fillings. Whilst providing warmth, these synthetic materials trap heat and run the risk of overheating your child, and can make them sweaty and uncomfortable.
Organic cotton is also natural, renewable and biodegradable. It benefits both cotton producers and the environment by avoiding the harmful effects of toxic pesticides. Organic cotton is also better for your baby’s thin skin that is more easily irritated. All ergoPouch products are made using vegetable dyes and are free from fire retardants.
Our products are made from TOG rated materials, and we have a range of different TOGs for different room temperatures. Parents tend to over-dress their babies for sleep worrying they will get cold, but our What to Wear thermometer provides a straight-forward fail-safe guide on safely layering your child for sleep.
What are your favourite products for newborns, for babies and for toddlers?
Newborns– our Newborn Hospital Pack has a 1.0TOG Layer and 1.0TOG Cocoon Swaddle Bag. When worn together, they’re the perfect warmth for hospital temperatures. Plus, the oh-so-soft bamboo and organic cotton materials are smooth and comfortable for that thin, sensitive newborn skin.
Babies – Babies experience big development milestones frequently, including rolling, sitting, and the introduction of separation anxiety around 8 months old once they realise they are no longer attached to their mother. Our Jersey Sleeping Bag is a slim-fit bag, ideal as a transition from a swaddle to provide comfort in sleep, and allow movement for your little wriggler. Joey, the world’s first trackable comforter, is also another favourite, designed to be a sleep comforter to help babies settle from 8 months. Made from soft bamboo with anti-bacterial properties, he contains a sleep-safe Bluetooth tracking device that pairs with a smartphone so you’ll never lose track of your child’s best friend.
Toddlers – The world is just waiting to be explored by curious and energetic toddlers, who do not want to be confined to their cot for sleep! Our award-winning Sleep Suit Bag was designed with the toddler in mind. It converts from a Sleeping Bag to a Sleep Suit with legs, using zippers. Not only will it give your toddler more freedom in bed, but the sleep suit configuration can be used in a 5-point harness, making pram and car seat sleep transitions easier.
ergoPouch started in Australia and is now available all over the world. How have you gone about this expansion? And what has the global response been to this gorgeous Australian brand?
The international growth has been largely organic. Digital has been amazing for global reach and creating demand through the power of parents talking about what a life-changer their ergoPouch products have been.
In responding to the demand, our strategy has been to concentrate on building a consistently growing and profitable business that is scalable, and partnering with distributors and wholesalers who align with our business and understand the local audience.
As a result, ergoPouch is now sold in 14 countries around the world, and 2019 will see a launch into China and Brazil.
You have the most gorgeous collections - both seasonal and heritage. What inspires the collections each season?
A cornerstone of our brand has always been to offer on-trend prints to our style-savvy mama’s, whilst being the safest and most effective sleepwear products on the market.
Our Heritage Collection has a Scandi-inspired aesthetic, with colours and prints that complement any nursery. In light tones and playful patterns, the prints are neutral and timeless.
Our seasonal collection is a trend-driven capsule range that reflects what’s popular in children’s fashion and nursery style for the season. It is inspired by the natural elements that underpin our brand ethos.
We love that you’ve expanded into sheets, carry cribs and even robes for mothers. What else is on the horizon for ergoPouch?
We have some new product lines coming out later in 2019 that we can’t talk too much about yet, but are all in line with our Safe Sleep ecosystem. Driving our entire product range strategy is our mission – to have all babies, toddlers and mama’s sleeping safer and longer!
What’s your one tip for a sleep deprived mother?
Every phase passes. Understanding that you won’t be stuck in a particularly challenging sleep period forever can really help change a mindset. And once you come through the other side, you’ve earned another notch on your supermama belt – be proud of yourself!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted and struggling with the effects of sleep deprivation, don’t be ashamed or afraid to reach out for help. The professionals are there to support and guide you and your baby through sleep challenges. Your local GP, Maternal Child Health Nurse, or PANDA (Postnatal and Antenatal Depression Association) are a good place to start when reaching out for help.