We all know how much babies love to sleep, but sometimes they also “love” to cry and scream before parents comfort them and put them to rest. Carrying and cradling a baby in arms for hours each day can quickly become painful and exhausting for new parents, and that is why the market is overflooded with numerous products that are invented to work as parents right hand and put their babies to sleep in no time.
Babies spend most of their day snoozing, up to 18 hours each day, and proper sleep is essential for their growth and healthy development. Their needs are quite basic at this age, and it all comes down to eat, sleep, poop, repeat cycle. The most important thing which parents should consider when shopping sleep products for their baby is safety, and they should follow age restrictions for certain products and avoid anything that could potentially lead to SIDS.
Products for babies are usually designed to be enough cute and likable to melt parents hearts and wallets because often they tend to exaggerate and buy too much stuff for their baby. The amount of various options and products is so big that it is difficult to even start from somewhere, but we are going to focus on the products that are widely used and parent-approved as a sleep aid.
White Noise Machine for Babies
White noise machines first gained the sympathy of adults, but quickly it turned out that they can be highly beneficial for babies too. Those humming sounds resemble the sounds from a womb and work perfectly as a lullaby. One of the most popular parenting books, The happiest baby on the block, written by a pediatrician, strongly recommends the use of these machines, but parents have to be careful with them. One study from 2014. showed that white noise machines could be harmful to babies hearing if they are played at a high volume, if they are too close to the baby or if they are played too long. Experts suggest placing the machine further from the crib keeping the volume in a mid-range. The same goes for all kinds of music players, lullaby apps or nature sound machines.
Perhaps you did not expect to find curtains on this list, but they are in fact more meaningful than you would assume. Blackout curtains and shades proved to be parents best friends when it comes to baby’s daytime naps, no matter how sunny it is outside, they will keep baby’s nursery room dark enough and cozy by blocking even the smallest traces of sunlight. If you imagine them as some black or ugly brown curtains, you are wrong, they come in various colors and patterns designed especially for kids so that they can easily fit into the vibe of your nursery room.
Experts suggest using these curtains after the newborn phase, which usually lasts for the first three months of baby’s life. During the infant phase, babies should develop their internal clock and distinguish daytime for napping from nighttime for sleeping. Once you start using blackout curtains, when you find that it is the right time for your baby to wake up, slightly open the curtains to let in some sunlight and wait for your baby to wake up naturally.
Swaddle Blankets and Sleep Sacks
Since the regular loose blankets can lead to SIDS, it is recommended to avoid using them in baby’s cribs or bassinets, instead, swaddling blankets and sleep sacks are a much better and safer solution. Swaddling can calm down the baby and promote deep sleep as it creates a cozy and safe environment which acts like a mother’s womb. The proper way of swaddling, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), is when the infant is laying on its back, well wrapped. They also advise parents not to leave their swaddled babies without supervision and to stop swaddling them once they start rolling on their side intentionally. Parents should always consult their pediatrician on this topic, and also when they consider switching from swaddling blankets to sleep sacks. Many parents skip the swaddling and go with sleep sacks from the very beginning, which is nothing wrong. Sleep sacks come in various sizes so that they can fit any baby between a newborn and a toddler. They are looser than the swaddling blankets and were brought to use as an exchange for regular blankets. Babies love sleeping in their sleep sacks which keep them warm enough and also signal when it is bedtime.
Newborns are not afraid of the dark, they are already used to it after spending months in a womb, but older babies and even toddlers can develop a fear of the dark and have nightmares because of it. Not all the babies love sleeping in the dark, so if you notice that your child is waking up often at night, scared and disoriented, you should consider using a dim night light. Nowadays night lights are designed to be children-friendly, and they come in all sorts of cartoon characters, animals, shapes and colors. The light should not be cool-toned but rather warm or yellow-toned, and it should not be placed too close to the baby, put it next to the changing table or rocker chair, it can be helpful during nighttime diaper changes and feeding.
Highly popular baby sleep aids are swings – they come in many forms and swing in all possible directions to imitate parents natural movements and cradling. Unlike cribs and bassinets, baby swings are not intended for sleeping, so parents should limit the time their babies spend in them and always keep an eye on them. Spending too much time in swings or bouncy seats can cause the baby’s soft head to become flat if the baby falls asleep in them, parents should transfer them to a more firm and flat sleeping surface. Many infant swings now incorporate some extra features such as vibration, lights, music, hanging plush toys, so that they can calm down even the fussiest babies. Swings are suitable for all the babies that cannot sit up on their own, usually those are the babies up to six months old. When parents notice that their babies can push up on all four or they can roll on the side, they should stop using baby swings as they are no longer safe.
Baby Sleep Monitors
Most parents use some form of baby monitors which can be were useful when they are not in the same room with the baby. Baby monitors or alarms use a radio system to listen to the sounds baby is producing from a remote distance, some allow two-way communication so that parents can use them as walkie-talkies and talk to their babies. Recently these monitors have been significantly improved and upgraded so that they can even follow some of the baby’s vital signs, play music or record a video. Video baby monitors or baby cams are particularly popular as they can record even during the night when the lighting is low as they have a night vision feature. They are a bit pricier, and some pediatricians claim that they provide a false feeling of security, but most parents love them as it gives them a sense of security and they can sleep more soundly and careless.
One efficient way of calming down the babies and preparing them for sleep is to use a pacifier. They can be made out of rubber, silicone or plastic, their shape mimics the nipple and infants simply love using them. Sucking is a natural instinct for babies, and that is why most of them suck their thumb or fingers, while others opt for pacifiers which may represent a feeling of comfort and security for older babies. If a baby uses a pacifier at naptime and bedtime, it can lower down the risk of SIDS. Parents should never force their babies to use pacifiers or use tricks such as covering them in sugar to get babies to start using them. They should be cleaned and replaced often, as they are germ collectors and can make the baby sick.
Keep in mind that if babies get used to pacifiers too soon, they may have problems with adapting to breastfeeding, that is why parents should start giving pacifiers to babies after they are at least one month old. Teaching babies to stop using pacifiers is another struggle as most of them don’t obey. Keep in mind that children older than 2 years who still use pacifiers may have teeth problems.
Once babies can connect more hours of sleep during the night without waking up to be fed, they will start waking up for a diaper change. Due to this, parents should switch to overnight diapers, which come in all sizes and are designed to provide extra leak protection and enough comfort for babies so that there is no need to interrupt their sleep.
Oils and Lotions
Massages are a great way to calm babies and prepare them for sleep, and many parents use non-scented oils because there is a lower risk of allergic reactions. Essential oils are also popular and known for promoting sleep, but there are yet no scientifically backed up evidence that they can help babies sleep, although some studies have shown that certain scents such as lavender really soothe and relax babies and promote deeper sleep. This is not a huge surprise since lavender is well known for its sedative features and it is widely used among people who have sleep problems.
Except for massages, essential oils and lotions can be used during bathtime – just put a few drops of lavender or chamomile in the water. You can also diffuse these oils in the nursery room at bedtime. When babies start teething, they often have pains that wake them up during the night, so parents can use their fingers to rub a drop of clove oil diluted in 1 tablespoon of carrier oil into the baby’s gums. Roman chamomile oil is also great for teething aches, and it can be rubbed directly on gums.
Gliders and Rocking Chairs
If you are a new parent, you might be surprised and confused by many products that look similar or claim to do the same thing such as rocking chairs and gliders – the difference is in the way they move. Gliders can swivel, but most of them run back and forward while rocking chairs rock in an arc. Most parents agree that gliders provide a smoother ride and there is no chance that they will trap your toes which can happen with rockers. A matching ottoman is often available at an additional cost. These types of chairs have been around for ages, and you would typically expect to see a grandma knitting in them, but they are now more popular among mothers. Rockers and gliders are no longer made out of bare wood, they are padded and covered with cushions to create a comfortable retreat for mothers while they are breastfeeding or soothing their baby. Although they come in various designs, they are a bit bulky and require some extra space, so some parents do not even consider buying them, but we advise trying them first and then decide if you should give them a chance or not.