Hey lovelies! Happy Monday! Now, before you roll your eyes at me for that, and click away, come back! I have something I really want to share with you!…And it’s about better sleep – YES, the holy freaking grail of parenting- so you’re going to want to hear this. For those that know me personally and have ever had a conversation about sleep with me, you’d know I go deep. Like I go into all the in’s and outs of it. Hormones, timing, sleep cycles – the whole shebang. I go full nerd. Like, I’m actually pretty bloody anal about my children’s sleep.Yes, we have a somewhat flexible routine, but I’ve learnt just how much of their health, brain development, and daily temperament revolves around their sleep. It’s so vital for them to actually get proper sleep…and just as vital for us as parents, so that we don’t lose our freakin’ minds altogether.So, I’ve found that this is one arena that I’m always looking and researching for things that can help us all get a better night’s rest. Enter The Gro Company!
Guys, straight up, this is a company that has grown quite close to my heart purely because of their commitment to safe and better sleep. This company has apparently helped over seven million parents, and funded over 1,000,000 Pounds of research into SIDS and played their part in reducing the incidents of SIDS in the UK from 3000 to 200 per year!! (Incredible!) What’s more, is that their multi-award winning product offerings are not just fancy schmancy gadgets that promise so much, but do ABSOLUTELY nothing! Nope, theirs is a very real and practical offering that delivers on their promise. Our new friends from The Gro Company sent us a few products for each of our kids to trial:
• GroFriend and
And after giving it a decent trial, here’s what I thought…
Ok. So. Four kids. Four kids spanning four very different life stages of sleeping. This translates into each kid needing something different to help them with this whole sleep thing. I know, it’s an odd concept right? That most kids need help to sleep. If you ask any parent, all they’d need is a pillow and an opportunity and BOOM. Sleep. But, save for a few kids out there, the rest of us folks know that some kids need a bit help along the way.
Blankies for babies
First up, littlest of babies…As you know, Remy-James was the sweetest baby of our lot, and definitely a better sleeper. Which doesn’t say much considering what we went through with the others, but we take what we can get. And now that he’s older, we were able to get him into a proper sleep “routine” of 3 to 4 naps of anything from 1.5 to 3 hours long, and heads off for night time sleep anytime from between 5:30pm and 6:30pm . (I’ll share with you how we did that in another post).
However, while teaching him how to get himself to sleep, I noted how he was struggling to find his sleep aid – as in that thing all kids do, however subtle, to help them soothe themselves to sleep. Some kids twirl their hair to sleep, others twiddle their fingers, others suck their thumb, or scratch their matress/sheet, while other’s have their blankie or teddy that they either hold, suck or rub. Now each of my girls’ had their special sleep aid or lovey as we call it, and what I’ve learnt is this:
1. Try to buy more than one of the same lovey for your kid, because if you lose that one sacred lovey, you will cry. Your baby will too, but you may cry louder, as you know that without that blankie, sleep will not visit your home, and all of Armageddon will break loose.
2. If it needs to be washed – and it will – you’ll need to make sure the spare lovey is good to go so that sleep can still happen while the original dries.
3. As far as possible, try to avoid using a teddy as a sleep aid. Most teddies get dirty real quick – especially if the kid sucks on the teddy – they can be harder to get clean, and since they’re a bit larger, they tend to take longer to dry and are often more expensive to buy a spare.
I’ve learnt that blankets make the best lovies. Easy to wash and easy to buy spares.
Enter the GroComforter, Percy the Penquin, who definitely seems like he’s starting to make his way into Remy’s sweet little sleepy heart. This grocomforter is velvety soft blankie that provides a sensory heaven for the discerning little sleeper, and has an added feature of having a tiny little plush. Now, as I’ve observed over the years, it may take a while before the relationship between baby and blankie is established. Only a short while, but still like any relationship, it needs time. However, judging from the way Remy loves to touch and feel, eat and keep lil’ Percy near him as he falls asleep, I think it’s safe to say we have a winner in our groComforter!
What’s more is that this groComforter doubles as a finger puppet, which Remy is absolutely loving. And these little puppet dances and kisses right before sleepy time has become part of our nap & bed time routine.
So if you’re looking for a good quality blankie that’s easy to wash (and fairly quick to dry), easy to get a spare or two of, and is just super flipping cute, then the groComforter is the one for you. They retail at R199,99, available at Baby City, Takealot, Loot,, Charley’s Boxes, and selected Babies R Us stores . And if penguins are not your vibe, then there’s also Benny the Bear and Ollie the owl. (100% Polyester)
Dealing with some hitches along the way
Now, I’ve found that once kids learn to understand their own bodys’ sleep cues and thus get into an age-appropriate sleep routine, even though you may think it should be smooth from there on out, there are, unfortunately, still a few challenges that may pop up along the way. Yeahhhh, sorry to burst your bubble – you still gotta parent! 🙂
There may be littles who no longer enjoy the pitch dark, or who still prefer having light in the room in order to fall asleep, so you need a night light. Then, some littles just need some background noise to reassure them or maybe a bit of whitenoise to ease them into or back into sleep. And this is where goFriends come in to play.
GoFriend is a light and sound sleep aid that is shaped and feels like a luxuriously soft toy plushie, that not only offers an adjustable soft glow but also comes with four different sounds to help settle baby. What’s more is that it comes with a CrySensor – I’ll tell you a bit more about that later. Our groFriend was larger version of Percy the Penguin.
Now whilst Percy can be used from newborn upwards, we decided to trial it out with Yuriko-Mae instead. As a one year old who sleeps solidly from 6pm till about 8 am (most days), we had moved her white noise device out of the room, as she showed she no longer needed it- at least we thought so; Having learnt to sleep through most of Remy’s middle of the night cries, we realized she was getting to that point where she could sleep through most noises (except from 5am onwards, where she’s rested enough and it becomes dicey). But we noted that sometimes, on the rare occasion where she did wake, she was looking for nothing more than a little bit of reassurance and then would head back to sleep. Now, whilst this may seem like a blip on the radar for most, I can assure you that as two parents that are solidly exhausted and still recovering from the newborn months, we appreciate NOT needing to get up in the middle of the night AT ALL, even if just for the rarest of occasions.
You can’t even judge us for this, because you KNOW as a parent, we ALL want the good sleep. Right?! Every single parent out there could do with ALL the sleep there is! This is where we felt that Percy could help us all out!
Percy not only has white noises, heartbeat and lullaby sounds with volume control, along with a soft adjustable glow night light, but is also, as I mentioned, equipped with an innovative CrySensor. Essentially this CrySensor listens for baby all night just like you would, and automatically plays your selected lullaby or white sound for 20 min that is said to help comfort baby back to sleep. (usually 20 minutes is enough to get baby to calm down, and usually back into the start of their deep sleep cycle.) After 20 min, if baby has settled, he goes quiet, and returns to listening out for baby, to help resettle again. This in theory is supposed to save you the parent a trip down the hall, and instead allow you to get some decent rest, while helping baby also find his/her sleep rhythms.
Now, honestly, Yuriko hasn’t actually woken up in the middle of night throughout our trial for us to actually confirm just how effective Percy truly is wrt comforting back to sleep. But what I can say is that I adore the night light. It provides a soft glow that creates a very welcoming, warm, sleep enticing vibe.Flip, it even makes ME want to sleep! It’s not a stark and frigid light, nor is it pitch black – its a comfortable middle ground that provides enough light for baby to feel orientated, but not stimulated.
What’s more is that it can be positioned on the night stand by baby’s cot, or, using the Velcro strap, simply hung up on the cot itself at home, or on the pram if you’re on the go. This is what we truly appreciated about Percy, as we had moved all of those “baby” gadgets out of Yuriko’s room to Remy’s little corner, with the nightlight being one of them. Now whilst she didn’t seem to mind at all, I hated not being able to see her clearly when I popped in to check on her.
What I must warn you about is that Percy is flipping cute. And the buttons and sounds make him far too interesting to not play with. So expect that your little one may want to play with Percy at first more than just sleep. But making sure that you are consistent with explaining that Percy is just there for sleepy time, eventually the novelty will wear off and Percy will be left to do his thing.
Also, if soft blue Percy the Penquin is not your vibe, then soft grey Ollie the Owl might be. They’re both cute, if you ask me.
Available at Baby City, Takealot, Loot, and Charley’s Boxes and retails at about R579,99.
Big girl night light
Speaking of night lights, my big girls are also pretty dependant on their night light still. But guys, confession time….for YEARS, and Im talking YEARS, with all my greatest intentions of ever buying them a proper night light, I just never have. Instead I’ve been using a towel carefully and securely wrapped around their lamp. Whilst I am super safe about it, I’ve got to say for so many reasons I’m so glad we got this groLight….
GroLight is a nifty device that converts your own existing light into an energy efficient night light, and comes with a dimmer dial to control brightness.
How well does it work?
Guys, not even kidding….usually about 5 mins from the time we do lights out and groLight on, these two sucker fools of ours conked! Now maybe it’s the novelty of it all – I hear you – but it’s been two weeks and we’re still going strong.
I asked Morgy if she liked it – she nodded yes wildly- and asked why she thought it worked so well for her: “I think because its not so bright mom. That way the sleep fetches me quickly.” (Out of the mouths of babes, folks!)
Now, in truth, Morgy has never been the one we struggled with to get to sleep. It was always Pax who found bedtime the perfect time to catch up on all the extra fun. Pushing the boundaries of sleep time well beyond mom and dad’s patience thresholds. I knew that the make shift light night we were using was still too bright for the room, but any less and Pax would complain, thereby also delaying bedtime. So I was a bit skeptical about how well the GroLight was going to be received by them.
Mike bought a new funky lamp to add to the excitement, fitted the groLight on, and with a quick double switch of the lamp’s own light switch, he turned the room into a refuge, perfect for sleep. We doubled clicked the lamps own switch again to put the normal light back on, and did our usual bedtime routine. We end with story time, along with 5 minutes extra alone reading time, before lights out (with night light on). Guys, I’m not even going to kid with you on this, but I came downstairs after that and gave the kitchen a quick once over and before I settled into the couch I noted how quiet it was upstairs, and thought I best go check it out. Usually I have about 10 minutes before I need to go back in there to remind them (Pax) that its quiet time and they need to “take their sleeping positions”, but this time I found something else: silent sleeping children.
Those two little girlies were properly asleep – wide open mouths and everything! Mike and I did the happy dance, but were careful not to get too hopeful that our good old days of easy sleeping kids were back. But the next night the same thing happened and the next! And the next….although, we’ve one or two nights over the weekend where they needed extra time to deflate from the day before they could fall asleep, but you get the picture! Needless to say Im sold on this night light and even though its not every single night that they do a quick “system shutdown”, it certainly does improve their sleep quality, and length!
Just a bit of advice: The GroLight comes in both screw in and bayonet. Unfortunately, as we learnt, the screw in is pretty hard to fit all our ceiling lights (we don’t have hanging lights), and none of our lamps are screw in bulbss. The screw in lamp we went out to go and buy still didn’t fit – we bought and exchanged quite a few – but after hubby mcguyvered it, we eventually got the grolight to fit. So unless you already have lights that hang or that have the screw-in section that slightly protrudes just enough for the groLight to fit onto your light, I’d say go with the bayonet option.
The grolights retail at about R299,99 and are available at Baby City, Takealot, Loot,, Charley’s Boxes and selected Babies R Us stores.
Getting them to stay in bed ….
Now, if kiddy sleep wasn’t already so tricky, having four differently aged kids means that our mornings can be pretty unpredictable. Remy-James usually wakes for boobs in the early morning, and is pretty loud. So to keep him from waking his 1 yr old sister, I respond immediately & hope that he doses back to sleep before his older sisters also hear him and think that their day has started. Or sometimes they wake up farrr too early anyway, stomp around the house and make so much noise that either wakes Coco or Remy up, or worse: both 😐
Now during the week is not so bad, as they need to be up for school, and Mike and myself are up anyway. But on weekends, we become pretty possessive about our morning sleeps. And the truth is, with Remy still so small, I’m so thin on sleep, so I’m extra clingy about the sleep I get. And honestly want us ALL to get good sleep so that we’re all in better moods, which makes for more pleasant days for everyone. So, in order to get my biggies to stay in bed for longer, Ive tried explaining what “too early” for them is, but without a proper grasp of time telling, I understand that this can be hard for them as smallies to understand.
At one point I was busy with a DIY project to help them grasp this concept of time – because little minds at this stage need something more tangible to help them understand this abstract concept of time. But then #TheGroCompany swooped in and saved the with their #GroClock which takes the head-scratching & hassle out of explaining it all to kiddies.
It has sweet sun and star graphics to help convey the concepts of sleep and wake up times, and can be used to help prevent too early wake ups.
We choose what time is an appropriate time for them to get up and out of their beds, and set it on the clock together as part of our bed time routine.
The groClock then uses a picture with stars that have a countdown feature and helps the kids understand the concept of passing time. It also helps them see how far or how soon their wake up time is IF they do happen to wake up too early.
And when it is time to get up, the clock counts down the last star, the clock display starts to change colour much like a rising sun, and eventually the bright sun graphic appears and gives your kids a wink to let them know it’s time to get up. You can add an alarm to this if you so desire – we only use an alarm during the week for school, but prefer silence over the weekends.
We’ve found that this clock has helped them get to sleep faster and then stay asleep longer. I think it’s because having a clock of their own makes them feel empowered and like they have greater control over their time and sleep – because it’s not mom and dad telling what and when, its their own little device that they love and trust, and seem to feel a form of independence in having it. I mean they follow that clock like freaking loyal soldiers! Case in point: they’ve asked what to do in cases of needing the toilet but the stars were still counting down. I thought they were kidding, till I realised how serious they took the whole concept.
The one morning I found them wide awake but quietly waiting in bed, patiently watching and waiting for the sun to rise on their clock. I praised them, and told them how much I really loved their clock. And the next morning, holy poops, guys – they flipping slept like they were doing it for points! (Did you catch my instastories over the weekend past?? They went to bed at 8pm, and slept in till 9:30am!! They haven’t done that in almost a year!! I attribute that to the combination of the clock and the grolight.)
Needless to say, Mike and I have been loving the fact that we have a little more “control” over our mornings again. Now if only Coco could also serve up some 9am wake-ups over the weekend, and not just save them for the middle of the weeks when it doesn’t count! 😐
So if you want in on this GroClock action -trust me you do – they are available at Baby City, Takealot, Loot,, Charley’s Boxes, and selected Babies R Us stores, and retail at about R549,99.
Don’t forget if you want to see their full sleep aid range – and you DO- check them out here.
(and their bath time range over here)