Ah, the holy grail of Babyhood. We can’t guarantee that any of these products will get your baby to sleep, but they certainly won’t make your life any harder!
Jessie says: “Ben was never big on swaddling, but we did learn from the nurses and our parents just in case. Although we had a ton of cute swaddlers on hand as recommended by friends, we mostly used aden + anais swaddle blankets. Ben would squirm and fuss if we swaddled him before he fell asleep, because he has always wanted his hands up near his face, and he wasn’t a fan of the swaddlers. The blanket was the easiest option for us, but we were mainly doing a loose wrap for warmth and a little comfort rather than a true tight swaddle. I would recommend having a couple of different options on hand before buying 10 swaddlers like I did (and then never using them).”
Jordan says: “We went through a number of swaddling options as Jacob grew and discovered he could jail-break them and wake himself (and everyone else) up in the middle of the night. My baby was a lot of things when he was tiny, but good sleeper was nowhere amongst them.
- In the beginning…we used the striped receiving blankets from the hospital, and they really worked well. Also, a friend gave me a Carter’s Just One You Interlock blanket, and it became my absolute favorite for swaddling. They have just the right amount of stretch.
- .. after he could get out of a regular blanket, I moved to the SwaddleMe that had Velcro that someone had given me. They worked as a nice transition after the regular blankets.
- But he kept breaking out, so… Miracle Blanket to the rescue! This one has a shorter piece of fabric on the inside that holds down one arm, then a much longer piece of fabric that wraps around him a couple of times on the outside and the bottom is basically a little sack. Miracle Blanket did seem to be made for longer babies, because he was several months old before this was usable on him and not just comically large.
- When he started rolling over… he still slept so much better when he was somewhat swaddled, but I wanted him to be able to use his arms to push himself up if he flipped to his tummy. Enter the Zipadee-Zip. It zips up the front and basically makes your baby look like a cute little starfish. The premise is to give them some freedom of movement, but still let them feel secure, and for us, it totally worked. They’re a little pricier than I would have liked, but as I only bought one, it was worth it. Yay sleep!”
Lela says: “A friend showed me this technique after my first baby was too old for swaddling, but I’m pumped to try it with the next one. We used Halo Swaddlesure; just make sure you get one that you don’t have to take apart to change baby’s diaper.
White Noise Machine
Jessie says: “The Marpac Dohm sound machine is hands-down the best I’ve ever used. When I worked as a counselor, we used this in every single office I worked at, so you know it’s good for covering noise. My dog can bark in the next room and won’t wake Ben. It’s also great because it doesn’t run on batteries, so I just plug it in and leave it under his crib, and I never have to worry about it.”
Jordan says: “Yes, you absolutely need a white noise machine. I have the myBaby Soundspa Lullaby Sound Machine, and it plays 6 different sounds (I just leave it on the rainstorm one) and will project moving images to the ceiling (I’ve never used that feature. Jacob is such that we need no additional distractions while trying to go to sleep).”
Kelli says: “Okay, so I get the whole noise machine devotion, heck, even I sleep with a fan on Mach 5, but let me just say this: I believe that if your baby only learns to sleep in an artificially created environment, you are setting yourself up to have a monkey on your back. Will you be toting said noise machine to your friend’s home when you go over for couples’ night? Will you be packing said noise machine in your luggage every time you fly or drive to visit grandparents? Let’s look into the future, shall we? Will Your Precious be taking their all-important noise machine on sleepovers? (Yes, you could simply use a phone with a white noise app, but still you are creating a certain environment your child is dependent on to sleep.) I felt it was important for my kids to go to sleep A) when they were sleepy and B) when they were told to. When my kids were born, we lived in a very busy and very noisy trailer park. Mobile homes are not known for being exactly soundproof. You could hear everything in that trailer, even the neighbors next door walking in theirs, not to mention kids playing, lawn equipment running, vehicles driving by, etc., and my kids slept through it all. We adapt to what we need to adapt to, and teaching your child to be flexible in all arenas is a great skill to give them, and a present to your future self.”
Crib, mattress, & sheets
Jessie says: “Most cribs are convertible now, which is great because you can continue to use it as your child grows. Make sure if you’re buying an older crib or using a family heirloom or hand-me-down that it meets the current safety recommendations. We considered using an older crib that my husband’s father built before he passed away, but ultimately decided against it after doing more research on safety. We have the Graco Bryson crib, and we love its style and quality for an affordable price. I have the Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams crib mattress, which is firm, lightweight (great for changing the sheets), and affordable.”
Lela says: “I always try to blend affordable and cute (my sense of cute usually leans towards simple) so I ended up with the Sniglar from IKEA. I liked that it can adjust for toddlers too. I use organic bedding, because I read a bit about SIDS and some researchers out of Norway have a new hypothesis about why it happens. They think that the flame retardants used in bedding and baby stuff off-gass when the material gets warm (i.e. when babies sleep face down or it’s hot in their rooms) and those chemicals could be causing breathing problems leading to the unexplained deaths. I like the Naturepedic brand because it’s more affordable than other organic brands, is widely available and they have a mattress selector on their website so you can find the one that’s right for you. I opted for organic sheets like aden + anais as well, and you can find various options online or in stores.”
Jessie says: “We didn’t use anything to darken Ben’s room for the first few months, because newborns will sleep under any conditions (at least mine would) and he mainly napped while being held or on his Boppy newborn lounger. As he got older and started fighting naps/earlier bedtime, I realized that a dark room is much more conducive to sleep when it’s still light outside. I use Levelor Room Darkening Cordless shades, which are very effective, easy to raise and lower, and are cordless for baby’s safety.”
Jordan says: “I swear by the Rock ‘n Play. Jacob slept almost exclusively in his until he outgrew it at 6 months old. It was perfect to move around the house with me as I needed to do things, and easily fit beside the bed. He had pretty bad reflux when he was a newborn, so this was a great way for him to sleep on an incline. We didn’t even use his crib until he was 6 months old. We have a big dog, and I like that the Rock ‘n’ Play is stable enough that I didn’t have any concern about her accidentally knocking it over. I wasn’t aware at the time, but they also make one that self-rocks, and I wish wish wish I had had that one.”
Jessie says: “I also used the Rock ‘n Play (with the auto-rocking feature, as recommended by Jordan) for the first 2 months or so. It worked really well, and I felt that the rocking helped soothe Ben back to sleep. However, it’s not technically recommended for sleeping, and I started to feel concerned about its effect on Ben’s hips/joints and the back of his head due to his positioning in it. Some moms also report some difficulty transitioning baby from Rock’n’play to their crib when baby outgrows the rocker. I didn’t have too much trouble with the transition, but for the next baby I might try a flat sleeping surface from the start.”
Lela says: “I used the Arm’s Reach Mini Co-sleeper because it was given to me for free. It worked fine for my first and I will use it for my second. It was safe for my daughter so she could be close to my bed in the early all-night nursing marathon days. If we had room in our bedroom, we would have just put her crib in there. But we live in an old apartment so the rooms are teensy and we had to use what would fit. I am all about less baby gear, so avoiding purchasing extra stuff is always a big priority for me. If I had not been given the co-sleeper, I would have purchased the bassinet attachment for my travel crib. Multi-purpose all the way!”
Jessie says: “We got the basic Graco Pack N Play, but honestly we haven’t used it much other than as a changing table when we were staying with my parents for a few weeks after selling our house. I intended to use it as a bassinet but ended up using the Rock’n’play instead. Some pack ‘n plays have something called an “newborn napper” attachment, but again, that doesn’t meet the safe sleep recommendations since it isn’t a flat surface. Most basic ones already have a bassinet setting that is high enough to easily reach baby, so I would recommend that over the one with a napper. I haven’t used mine for traveling at all; it weighs a ton and I have no interest in lugging it through an airport along with suitcases, car seat, and other baby gear. When I’ve flown with Ben, I made a pallet of blankets on the floor for him to sleep on, or some hotels have pack ‘n plays available for guests. It might be more useful if you’re driving to your destination, but not great for flying. If you do get one, make sure you get sheets specifically for your model as well.”
Lela says: “My priorities here were organic sleep space and lightweight/easy to assemble. I was torn between the Baby Bjorn travel crib and the Lotus Guava travel crib and ended up getting the Lotus because it was on sale on their website. If I hadn’t had the Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper, I also would have purchased the bassinet attachment and used it in our room for the early bassinet days in addition to using it for travel (again, multi-functional gear is a big priority for me!). The travel cribs are light and easy to assemble because the mattress rests on the floor. When we travel, we often put a thick blanket under the crib and dress baby warmly because sleeping on the floor can be kind of cold. For me, the 13lb travel crib that I can carry on a plane and carry as a backpack was worth that extra hassle.”
Are there any other must-have sleep products you’d add to this list? Let us know in the comments!
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