Sleep. You never knew how much you wanted and needed it until a newborn comes crashing into your wee hours. Plan ahead for safe, sound and secure sleeping for your new baby ahead of time!
The list below goes through 10 things your baby needs for a good night’s sleep – but there is plenty more on the sleep train – check out my other posts here!
A Safe Place
Whatever kind of crib you choose for your child – just ensure it is a safe and secure place that fits your space and family well. If you are rolling like Kim K – you could spend upwards of 5K on a crib just like hers (and Beyonce’s!). I have also heard great things about the ‘Pod but it is still a little too rich for my baby’s blood.
A more fiscally conservative, yet still modern and solid option is the Babyletto with clear slats or the Ubabub with clear sides if that is the style you prefer.
Graco, Carter’s and Delta all make really solid, appealing and affordable products – read the review and consider the right crib based on color, style, price, and taste.
My favorite cribs are the contemporary and convertible crib – Babyletto 3-in-1. They are simple, nice looking, easy to assemble and best yet for this short mama – not too tall.
Cribs don’t have to set you back hundreds of dollars. If you are on a tighter budget, there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing a more portable option like a pack n’ play that can be folded up in toddlerhood and easily put away. You don’t have to rob a bank to buy a good pack n’ play – they range from $50-200 for simple ones with various bells and whistles. This is also a great option for those living in studios or 1-bedroom apartments as pack n’ plays can be tucked away when you have guests.
By the way, your baby doesn’t have to start in a crib – and frankly might be cozier in a bassinet in the early days. Check out my post here all about bassinet options!
A Good Mattress
Baby’s safe sleep (and peace of mind for you) also depends on having a good, safe, firm mattress. I am a huge fan of Lullabye Earth and Naturepedic Organic Mattress for various reasons.
There are quite a few options for mattresses. Be sure to find something that is firm for newborns (as the toddler category begins to soften up). I always recommend a new mattress (vs. used) unless you are handing it from your first child downward and know it has been kept in good condition (like away from moist storage units that may have allowed the mattress to mold on the inside or lose its dignity in other ways).
There are so many beautiful brands with lovely designs. I am into soft, safe (i.e. tightly fitted) organic sheets. I happen to love Burt’s Bees Organic Sheets for their softness and simplicity. There are really tons of options to choose from.
A Good Sound Machine
I am struggling with this recommendation at the moment – I’ll be honest. I have always, 1000% always, have recommended the Hushh sound machine for its size and volume. It is portable, discreet in measurements, carries high-capacity for sound, and is generally easy to deal with. However…. Truthful they aren’t super durable. I have two boys and they have gotten their hands on these sound machines a few times, dropped or thrown them – nothing major – but ya know…. I am now on sound machine number 5 (five!!) with three useless, broken ones under my belt. Choosing another option like this or this may have saved me from little hands getting ahold of and playing/breaking my dear sound machines! But, alas, I still really love how small and loud the Hushh can be…. I wish they were just a little more hardwearing….
Getting your baby into a good sleep rhyme can be helped naturally with light restriction. This helps a lot for daytime naps or the early morning’s light. If you do not have dark or blackout shades in your baby’s bedroom, consider something temporary like this or this. Or, something more long-lasting like this. You can even overlay different window coverings (like sheer, lace, or others!) over the more permanent option to change the color or style of the covering.
I find nightlights to be absolutely key with a new baby in the middle of the night. The last thing you want to do is trip over something on your way to a 1:00 a.m. feeding or turn on bright, overhead lights for blow-out midnight diaper changes. Even when you are pumping or nursing, it is so nice to have some soft and quiet lighting available during those wee hours instead of anything that will totally wake-up baby and disrupt your own patterns.
These simple plug-in sensory nightlights will not set you back much but can come in super handy for hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens while your baby is still on a nighttime wake-up schedule. For baby’s room consider the Hatch nightlight (and much more) or this LED Miroco light with soft settings. I also happen to like this tappable nightlight with 16 colors.
A Place to Chill
Allowing your baby to have a good night’s rest means installing some habits and easing your own burdens. Having a glider or a rocker in your baby’s area is so helpful (when possible!) – whether it is for bedtime routine like stories, nursing, a cuddle before falling back asleep, or giving mom/dad just a nice place to sit down for a few minutes – a good ‘chair’ is clutch.
Gliders come in all shapes, sizes, and uses. When we had our first baby, I simply got this affordable and durable rocker that I actually really love. It is not fancy, but it fits our neutral theme well, is actually super comfortable, and holds all three of us during storytime. Since it wasn’t very expensive, I don’t cringe when the kids spill a little milk on it (easy fabric to clean off), and it’s actual “rock” is smooth for those bedtime snuggles. I have endured plenty of long nights comfortably in this rocker and have zero regrets about it’s purchase! This one is also super similar and I love Graco products!
However, when I had my second baby, knowing I was going to have a c-section was a much different experience than the trauma of my first birth/c-section. With the consideration of this kind of birth, I wanted to buy a glider that was perfect for my recovery so did a ton of research before embarking on my second rocker/glider. This Babyletto is not cheap but is perfect for anyone who is going to be spending long nights in their nursery or will be having a caesar section and needs an easy seat for recovery. This is why we bought it: the electric recline (easy for recovery), it reclines SUPER far back (I slept in this car decently comfortably for many a’ nights), it is comfortable, chic, and durable and still much cheaper than fancy ones from designer stores. I’d highly, highly recommend this Babyletto for anyone – whether or not caesar is in the future – but most definitely those recovering from that special birth experience.
There really are so many options for gliders, be sure to choose one based on style, usage, size, and price tag. But, also, be realistic. It is a glider/rocker for a nursery and is bound to get a little beat up. Avoid purchasing anything that is going to make your stomach turn over when you realize your baby has been crawling all over it with a blow-out diaper….
Great Overnight Diapers, with Boosters
Once your baby stops pooping at night time, you can generally stop changing them multiple times a night – maybe even all together (at night) depending on their wetness and preference. My kids were pretty “fine” with wet diapers and slept just as well at night time even when that little line shown blue. Once they weren’t doing #2 in the middle of the night, I stopped unnecessarily changing them (and this waking them up!) in the wee hours. I used Pampers 12-hour diapers (because, really, I love pampers and find them to best suit my kids), and booster pads for those long night stretches. To this day, we still use Pampers but no longer need the booster pads (those they came in so, so handy under 1!).
A Secure Sleepsack or Swaddles
There are five types of sleep-wearing mechanisms you can/should consider for different stages of your baby’s life.
First, there is the original swaddle situation. You’ll learn how to swaddle, if you don’t know already, at your newborn classes or from the nurses at the hospital. There are also plenty of YouTube videos if you forget or need some more explicit direction on strategies to keep those little hands from escape the cocoon. For swaddles, there are both muslin blankets and more stiff cotton blankets. For newborns, I find the cotton, stiff blankets (like the ones at the hospital) are best at keeping your baby wrapped tightly.
Then come the super-duper inventive and helpful velcro swaddles. Once my babes could fit into these wraps, I tossed aside every other muslin and regular cotton swaddle I had and strictly used only swaddles with velcro. We even had a few to make sure no one was left without this tool due to a laundry load. The velcro swaddle is just genius, helpful, easy, and works fast.
The secondary velcro swaddle is the option that allows your child to have both their hands free (but still feel wrapped and secure at the body) or to be used as a traditional swaddle. I really like this product a lot for the transitional stage of weaning out of the swaddle, but also found I could basically do the same thing with my original velcro swaddles by just using the product lower on my baby’s torso.
The sleepsack is the sleeping apparatus I find the most useful for the long term. We started using sleep sacks with my second child at just 3 months, and we still use them for my toddler to this day (yes they sell them in huge toddler sizes).
Why? Sleep sacks are sleep options for keeping baby warm at night as loose blankets or clothing is not safe for little ones. The reason we still use a sleep sack for my toddler, even though his crib is now full of favorite stuffed animals and cozy blankets is… well… it prevents him from escaping his crib. And I am all for keeping him there during sleep time. Sleepsacks also prevents my kids from accidentally getting their legs stuck between the crib slats while sleeping.
Lastly, there are the ‘creative’ sleep wearing solutions like the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit, the Nested Bean Zen sack, and the Zipadee Swaddle Transition Suits.
Honestly, I can’t totally vouch for any of these though I know plenty of other people who swear by each of them specifically for different reasons. We have both the Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit (“banana astronaut baby suit”) and the swaddle transition suits – but – really my firstborn was a horrible sleeper until we did some serious sleep training and my second one was a great sleeper (with some different sleep practices in place). I can’t say either of these products did much or didn’t do much – every baby is so different it is really hard to tell and truthfully, I think it comes down to both personality and sleeps training or independent sleep practices implemented early on in their life. HOWEVER, some people really swear by the Magic Suit so if you are having a hard time, give it a try! We sure did!!
Pacifiers, if you will…
Some people hate them.
Some people love them.
Some people don’t know how they are supposed to feel about them or that they are supposed to feel anything at all.
Let’s start with this, many studies suggest that pacifier use decreased the risk of SIDS. With this in mind, I was all about giving my kids pacifiers. Pacifiers do at least one thing – pacify.
My firstborn was obsessed with pacifiers and easily took to the Dr. Brown ones immediately. They helped us a tremendous amount. He loved pacifiers – loved, loved, loved. We had to break him of this paci habit at two but the early times were worth the weaning. My second child would not, will not, did not, take a pacifier. We tried. We tried different kinds, shapes, sizes. We offered it all the time, he downright wasn’t interested. Some kids are pacifier babies and some just aren’t. Either way – if you are into pacifiers and your kid is too – choose something safe and easy to keep clean. Consider getting a handful of them so they can be rotated out for cleanings and you have had them in different must have-places.
Check out my post here about pacifier weaning, when the time comes.
Avoid any pacifier that ones in two parts that could break off into a child’s mouth, or any pacifier that contains or is “dipped” in honey. These options are not the safest choices.
Breathable Mesh Liner
Bumpers are not a safe option for infants and should not be included in your crib. However, breathable, mesh liners that are safely and securely/tightly fastened properly to your crib are a safer choice. We used liners for both my children’s cribs to keep arms and legs from getting stuck between the rails. They also helped keep the array of pacifiers in my older son’s crib – which was great for his hunt in the middle of the night.
Current research demonstrates that the best way to reduce the chance of SIDS is to create and maintain a safe sleep environment for your baby. This means alone, in their own sleeping space with no other people in the crib or bassinet; on their backs on a firm sleep surface; and in a crib or bassinet free of pillows, blankets, bumpers, sleep positioners, and other objects.