By Rebecca Alwine
When Justin Baum’s little girl was just five years old, she experienced what most children do at one time or another: Fear and anxiety was keeping her from getting the sleep that she needed. Luckily, her dad had an idea. Baum worked with the US Marine Corps and frequently found himself in the Marine Corps Exchange. He brought home a teddy bear and simply explained that this Marine bear was going to keep watch over her that night.
So Baum took this process and created Sgt Sleeptight, the bear that protects children while they sleep, reassuring them, and helping parents at the same time. ZZZBears can be deployed straight to your house and the come with a door tag, an oath of protection, and a reward system for a successful night’s sleep. They come dressed in universal camo, or can be ordered in Marine Corps, Navy, and starting April 1, Coast Guard-specific camouflage patterns.
Baum explained that while his daughter had little first-hand knowledge of the military lifestyle, she was immediately comforted by having a Marine bear watching over her. “The power of storytelling and the simple concept of military equaling protection is perfect for children,” Baum said. “We receive feedback from both military and civilian families on how easily and quickly Sgt. Sleeptight helps with their child’s nighttime anxiety.”
Helping parents and kids rest easy is a great purpose alone, but ZZZBears didn’t stop there. After some research and consulting with others in the military sphere, they decided to partner with TAPS and Fisher House to make sure these bears got in the hands of some of the most deserving military children. “TAPS reaches out to us when they have a family with a child who recently lost a parent. We send them Sgt. Sleeptight,” Baum said. “Sometimes we get to personalize the donation; one such bear recently arrived to a child with an encouraging note written from Sgt. Sleeptight.”
The Fisher House partnership is a bit different, Buam explained. “Our pilot program with the Ft. Bragg Fisher House started about six months ago, and a local restaurant stepped up to donate all the bears needed over the course of the upcoming year.”
The goal is to foster relationships with local businesses and the military community. Most people genuinely want to help military families, they just don’t know how. “The restaurant that donated the bears to Fisher House also catered their Christmas Party,” Buam said.
Where can you get ZZZBears?
Currently, ZZZBears are available online and in some stores. The MCX, NEX, and, starting in April, the CGX will be carrying Sgt. Sleeptight in the appropriate camo design. You can also purchase them on the website, and on Amazon.
Perhaps even more exciting for Baum and families around the country, is that the bears are available in over 400 Target stores nationwide for the next few weeks. As part of a trial program, Target is carrying ZZZBears in stores and online.
Baum is really excited at how this can help bring a solution to all families. “ZZZBears aren’t just for military families, they are for all families that experience night time anxiety. They solve a universal problem and hold a universal appeal,” Baum said.
Sgt. Sleeptight’s Next Assignment
While this company is still quite new, Baum has plans for the future. He knows families understand that growth and new products take time, and as this is an extra adventure for him, he plans to make sure that it’s done right. Some of his future thoughts and plans include making ZZZBears available on Army installations, to increase availability to all families.
He’d also like to look at other ways to appeal to kids using this concept. “Additional bears may be in the future, maybe law enforcement or even samurai related,” he said. “There are lots of opportunities, and we have some plans for accessories, including some night lights and other products that will add an extra layer of visible security to kids in the middle of the night.”