There are so many products out there for helping your child sleep. And we all know that what works for one child may not work for another. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share what worked (and didn’t work) for me and my family to help anyone trying to determine their needs.
We struggled with sleep a lot with our son (who only wanted to sleep on me!). Baby wearing never really worked out, so we did do some things that worked, but I hope to not resort to some of them with my second child. I’ll tell you a little more about one of them (listed under the “never again” section).
There are some people who co-sleep (share a bed with their child(ren)). While I did this for the first couple of months, my list will fit best with those that are going to use the traditional crib (and/or pack ‘n play).
What About Sleep Training?
What I am not going to do is tell you how to sleep train your child. That is not the point of this post, and every method is different and may or may not work for you and your child(ren). In fact, we used a combination of many methods to finally get my son to sleep in his crib without an hour long routine to get him there (usually followed by lots and lots of crying).
Our child was what is referred to as an “escalator,” meaning that our son had no clue how to self soothe (he would cry until he vomited, then keep crying).
Not only were there some methods we didn’t believe in as parents, but there were others that would just never work for our child. So, if you are looking for answers to what will help your child, I’m happy to share our experience if you contact me. Otherwise, there are lots of books and resources out there to help you research.
Other Helpful Tips
In my first post on feeding, I included some tips on saving money and budgeting for baby. Here is a link to my other post on products I found helpful:
Baby Products: Sleeping
First, I am not an expert or doctor. I will list products that have worked for me, but please do your own research on safety and usage before buying and/or using any of these products.
The products I would purchase again and again.
Even in a small home or apartment, having a way to step a few extra feet further from your sleeping child to do chores or maybe even watch a little TV gives you more freedom in your day to day life. These are especially helpful for those in larger homes so you can hear your child from anywhere. Make sure to check the amount of distance you can go to keep the signal when/if you choose to purchase. My only complaint about this particular baby monitor is the battery life, but we keep it plugged in 90% of the time.
Crib (and mattress) and/or Pack n Play
Yup, you need somewhere your child can sleep. We started with a pack n play and upgraded to a crib when my son became mobile. I know a couple moms that only used a pack n play (my child is/was a climber and off the scales in size so a crib was a necessity for me). There are so many to choose from (and it comes down to personal choice), so just look around!
Sheets keep your mattress covered and your child a little more comfortable while sleeping. I also suggest getting a waterproof protector for under the sheets, but since these aren’t a necessity I added them to the “Nice to Haves” section.
I didn’t use blankets in his bed until my son was much older, but I did use blankets during naps when I could keep an eye on him in his bouncer.
NICE TO HAVES
The items that were great to have, but I would not consider them “needed.” There are a few things that some people use that I didn’t try – I never had a a mobile in my son’s crib or any sort of music box. I did use mesh bumpers in his crib (which helped keep his legs and arms from getting stuck between the slats – which happened over and over again), but due to the controversy of using these, I will refrain from suggesting them. If you think they would be useful, I would just suggest doing your research and getting only breathable bumpers.
This list does look long, but none of these items are “needed.” In my mind, almost nothing is more important than good sleep (both for your child and for you!), so I’ll share anything I can think of that can be helpful.
This is to prevent your crib or pack n play from wet messes (either a leaky diaper, sickness or anything else that may happen). I can’t tell you how many times these have saved my mattresses! If you choose to get these waterproof mattress cover, I suggest getting at least 2 so you have a spare when an accident occurs.
This has brought me so much peace of mind being able to sneak a peek at my sleeping child while I’m doing chores or just don’t want to disturb his sleep when I hear a strange noise in his room. I LOVE my security camera that links to my phone that I you can swivel the camera around (and has great resolution). I have tried some specific baby cameras, but I found the resolution or viewing ability to be absolutely terrible (nearly useless). Below are links to the security Foscam camera I used (keep in mind this takes a little tech savvy to set up) and another I received (360 camera)as a gift that is great for the price.
White Noise Machine
I cannot say enough about how helpful this little white noise machine is! Don’t get me wrong, I do want my child to learn how to sleep through daily noises. But he slept better without the constant noise of me doing chores or chatting with someone.
When my son was younger and I was concerned with suffocation issues of a blanket, these sleepsacks (which come in light muslin to fleece) kept my son warm and comfortable.
My son was very strong and would easily break out of any swaddle we put him in. However, in the early days these were very helpful to get him to sleep, either swaddle blankets and/or velcro swaddlers (I was lucky and got many of these as hand-me-downs).
Not only was this helpful for my son’s fears (eventually), but having even a little bit of light to see where you are going in the middle of the night saved us from many bruised shins and frustrations searching for things in the dark. We used an LED lamp with a light blanket over the top (so not a fire hazard), and later we purchased a glowing moon. But, there are tons of choices out there – just search and find one that may work for you.
Yes, there are some challenges when it comes to weaning off of a binkie (and concerns over latch for those that are breastfeeding). However, binkies have been a lifesaver when it came to sleep. Make sure to only buy 1-2 of a type before going crazy – my child didn’t like the first 3 types we purchased!
Sure, I’d love for my child to be able to sleep through any amount of light in his room, but my finicky sleeper really got better and longer sleep in a darkened room. I’m not sure of the brand of my drapes, so just search for blackout drapes and you will find all sorts of choices.
When we transitioned my son to the crib, it really helped to have a stuffed animal for him to snuggle while he slept. We were cautious at first because of the suffocation hazard – use your own discretion when and what to use as a lovey. We had a soft, fluffy teddy bear we got just for him, but we chose to try a more firm, less plush toy instead – Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch, a Disney movie)! At 2.5-years-old, he still sleeps with Stitch, and carries him around all the time!!
OK to Wake Clock
The OK to Wake clock is for older kids who may wake at varying times in the morning (or during nap). I only recently started using it for my son that was waking between 5-6:30am every morning – it has been amazing! You just set the clock to turn green at a certain time and tell your child he/she can come out of their room when the light turns green. The consistency has really helped so much!
MY NEVER AGAINS
While the item below came highly recommended, I will never use one again with my child.
Between sleep deprivation and continual frustrations trying to find something that would help my son sleep, we got a swing. It worked amazingly. I won’t lie about that. But, my son liked to swing in a particular way which, most of the time, required sitting at the swing and manually swinging it while he slept. Then, the swing started making terrible noises that would wake my son all the time. To top all of that off, he got addicted to the motion during sleeping! Transitioning him to the crib after that was a complete nightmare. In the end, my desperation for anything that would work made the swing worth it, but knowing what I know now, I will do everything I can to avoid it with my second child.
Thanks for taking a look and feel free to make suggestions I may not have made in the comments for other moms.