Some parents swear by the Dockatot and can’t imagine their lives without it. DockATots are a version of a baby nest that allows a snug place for the baby to lay.
However, at some point, your baby gets too big for the handy device, and you should be aware of the signs to look for.
As a mom, I can’t believe how quickly my children grew as babies. It was like I constantly was buying new clothes, switching around where they slept, and buying bigger-sized diapers.
DockATots are popular amongst new moms (and dads, too!) due to their versatility, womb-like feeling, high quality, and portability, but at some point, your little one won’t be so little, and you’ll have to end your days of DockATot use.
Before I dive into the top signs your baby is too big for a DockATot, it’s essential to know that DockATots are not meant for sleeping, and according to the official website, they stopped recommending their Deluxe+ and Grand docks for bed sharing in 2020. Instead, DockATot recommends parents use the docks as a place for the baby to lounge, work on tummy time, or for playtime.
Generally, anything labeled as a napper or lounger is not meant for sleeping. It’s also best not to put any blankets or pillows in the DockATots to prevent anything from covering your baby’s face. But, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you shouldn’t put anything in a baby’s crib to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Now that I’ve covered the safety protocol, let’s look at the four signs your baby might be too big for a DockATot.
4 Signs Your Baby Might Be Too Big for a DockATot
A baby lounger, like the DockATot, is an excellent place for tummy time and playing, but how do you know your little one has overgrown theirs? While you probably want to get plenty of use out of the DockATot, based on price alone, there are several signs you should look for to ensure your baby is in a safe environment.
In addition, it’s essential to know the Deluxe+ is meant for babies ages 0-8 months, while you can use the DockATot Grand dock for children 9-36 months. So here’s a look at how to know when your baby is too big for a DockATot.
1. Your Baby’s Feet are Hanging Off The End
If you use a DockATot Deluxe+ and your baby’s feet hang off the end, they are too big for the lounger. Although, you will appreciate the clips on the Deluxe, which allow you to extend the bottom for longer legs. You can move up to the Grand dock if you want to continue using a DockATot or move on to an alternative, which I will discuss in a moment.
2. Your Baby’s Head Touches The Top of The DockATot
There should be space between the top of the dock and your baby’s head, but if there isn’t, your baby has outgrown their DockATot. Since all infants grow at different rates, your little one might be too tall before the recommended age cap.
Also, if your baby has outgrown the dock, you can still place them on their tummy on the DockATot sides to work on neck strength.
3. Your Baby is Rolling Over
If your baby is rolling over and getting close to slipping off the sides of the DockATot, you should upgrade to the bigger size. DockATot safety is essential for proper use, so ensure you discontinue using the Deluxe dock once you believe your baby can roll off.
However, since the Grand dock has larger dimensions for toddlers, it’s a great transition from the Deluxe+ to allow plenty of room for your little one to move around. As your child ages, the Grand dock becomes a great place to relax and read a book.
4. Your Baby’s Arms Hang Off The Side
While your baby will probably move their arms around, if there is no space inside the dock for their arms, the DockATot is likely too small. So even though the idea behind the dock is to resemble the womb, you want your baby to have some room to move freely, especially as they get older and have control of their movements.
Other Methods of Keeping Your Baby in One Place After They’ve Outgrown The DockATot
Once your baby has outgrown their DockATot, there are several alternatives you can use in its place. While babies don’t need anything fancy, I can appreciate that parents want a safe place to put their baby while they do laundry or put the dishes away.
1. Use a Pack N-Play for Your Baby
One of a parent’s best friends is a pack-n-play because you can use it at home or on a trip. So, if your baby has outgrown a DockATot, there’s a good chance your pack-n-play will work perfectly to keep your baby in one place.
I also appreciated pack-n-plays when I needed to put my baby in a safe place while I took a shower. I ensured I added some toys and things to keep my child entertained while I attempted to get clean. A pack-n-play is also a cozy place for your child to sleep safely, especially for naps.
2. Set Up a Play Yard
Play yards are great because they allow your child to move around but are enclosed, so they can’t make a quick escape. I found play yards to be extremely helpful when making dinner or doing other chores where I could keep an eye on my little ones.
You can also set it up outside, which is excellent if you have older kids who want to run around but don’t want your baby crawling away. I highly recommend the Regalo Portable Play Yard because you can use it inside and outside, and it’s collapsible for easy transport. In addition, I appreciate the high quality, which means your little one can’t break free and injure themselves.
3. Place Your Baby in a Jumperoo
As your baby gets stronger and can hold their head up, a jumperoo is a great, safe place to put your baby. In addition, most are interactive, so they will enjoy playing with the toys attached to the jumperoo. I used the Fisher Price Baby Activity Center for all my kids, and since you could adjust the height, I got a lot of use out of it.
Freestanding baby jumper and activity center with exciting lights, sounds and music that reward your baby's every jump. Seat spins so your baby can explore a variety of hands-on activity toys including peek-a-boo tiger, bat-at monkey, rattle lizard, and more.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching my kiddos jumping up and down while I had a moment to get the laundry put away, and they loved the lights and sounds it produced.
4. Transition Your Baby to Their Crib
If you’ve been relying on your DockATot or pack-n-play for your baby to rest or play, it might be time to move them to their crib. My kids never slept in their crib for the first few months, but once we moved them, it was like they knew they had space to spread out.
For the record, we used the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper, which could attach to our bed, but also gave an eye-level view of the baby. The co-sleeper is another excellent alternative to the DockATot and provides a safe, secure sleeping bassinet.
Kelly is a mom of three who finds joy in writing about her parenting experiences and filling in others about the must-have products and the ones you can leave on the store shelf. With a bit of humor, Kelly tries to laugh off the messy side of parenting and, instead, focus on the beautiful moments it brings. Originally from South Florida, she now calls Northern Virginia home and looks forward to connecting with readers through The Place for Parents.