We Have To Talk About This Fish That Will Pat Your Baby's Butt Until They Fall Asleep
Because your hands (and arms and everything else) need a break.
In the throes of the newborn stage, you'll do pretty much anything to get a break from all of the rocking, swaying, and singing to your fussy baby. But what about letting a fish pat your baby to sleep? Yes, a plush fish that pats baby to sleep is an actual thing and moms on social media swear by it. At first glance it looks hilarious, but it's honestly pretty genius.
What is the sleeping fish?
Did someone actually make a fish toy that pats babies to sleep? Not exactly. Though it’s commonly called a “sleeping fish” by parents-in-the-know, a quick Google search reveals what this marvelous sleep hack really is: a flopping fish cat toy. A few versions on Amazon even come with catnip to enhance kitty playtime. Some product descriptions do also mention that dogs and kids enjoy playing with this realistic-looking plush fish as it flops about.
Despite the the toy’s intended use, this contraption can actually be super helpful for parents. Basically, it's a plush fish that moves rhythmically to allow the tail to deliver a soft swat to your baby's body. The movement looks much like a real fish flopping about when it's out of water, but that motion mimics a calming pat from a caregiver, which can help exhausted parents soothe their baby without lifting a single finger.
It uses a USB port to charge instead of a battery pack, and features an easily accessible on/off switch. As far as the look of the sleeping fish goes, there are different versions available to order, each one 3D printed to give this toy the look of a real fish, fresh from the ocean. Despite the fact that some of these fish toys look like something you just reeled in on an offshore expedition, it's certainly handier to have around than a bright orange Nemo plush. (Though one version does look just like him.)
Does the sleeping fish work?
Anecdotally, according to parents on social media, using one of these flopping fish toys to pat baby to sleep actually does work.
New parents often spend an unconscionable amount of time patting, shushing, bouncing, and just generally doing whatever it is they can think of to try and soothe their baby. A gentle tummy pat that never ceases is the only thing that will lull some babies to sleep. If you've ever fallen prey to this phenomenon, you know how incredibly draining it can be to lean over the side of a crib to deliver those relentless pats, trying to slow down the pats so your baby doesn't notice and you can sneak out, but thankfully, a plush fish-shaped contraption might just save your body from hours of agony.
As evidenced by the numerous “TikTok made me do it” videos circulating with snoozing babies being soothed to sleep by the elusive sleeping fish toy, it does seem to be one baby sleep hack that really works.
Why do babies like their butt patted?
If your baby likes their butt patted, it’s likely because this motion feels soothing and comforting to them. Babies develop the ability to self-soothe around 4 months of age, as Romper previously reported. But Even as you start to sleep train your baby, they may still desire the comfort that a butt patting brings as they drift off to sleep. Sleep experts surmise that patting your baby’s butt could simulate the rhythmic motions they felt when in the womb, bringing them a sense of reassurance.
With so many baby products on the market, sometimes the things you buy just don't work for your little one. It's admittedly tough to shell out a ton of dough for something they may refuse to use or end up hating. (I'm looking at you, $250 baby swing.) Luckily, if your baby doesn't fall for the soothing touch of a pat on the bum from a bass, you’re only out a fraction of the cost of most baby sleep contraptions. Plus, Amazon has a pretty solid return policy, so it’s worth a try.
Worst case scenario though, you're investing in a fun toy that your kid can "catch" from a faux lake made of throw pillows and "cook" over a make-believe campfire when they're a bit older. (Or, just give it to your cat.)
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