Ask almost any parent about their biggest struggle when it comes to raising a baby, and chances are good they’ll say that it’s getting them to sleep. Babies might be tired all the time, but that doesn’t mean that they want to sleep. And, what’s more, when they do sleep, they’d really rather be snuggled with you instead of laying alone in a crib. The good news is that there are ways to get baby to drift off, and some products to buy that may help you along the way.
What To Do To Help Baby Sleep
Great sleeping habits are something that you want to establish early on in your child’s life. As they get older and their brains mature, you’ll have a much harder time getting them to learn how to sleep well on their own, and that’s the best thing you can do for both baby and yourself. Every baby is different, and while a select few are just naturally great sleepers, most need a little help getting there. Below are a few tips on how to help them do precisely that.
- Add some white noise. You might think that your baby needs a super-quiet environment for sleep, but that’s not true. When they’re growing in the womb, they’re hearing all the things going on in your body, which is quite noisy. They’re used to white noise in the background, and they actually sleep better with it there! A sound machine is one of the best investments you can make for your baby.
- Make them as comfortable as you can. Every parent should be following the safe sleep guidelines outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For babies under one year old, this includes putting them to sleep on their back, making sure there is nothing in the crib except baby (and maybe a pacifier), and avoid the use of blankets, soft mattresses, pillows, or stuffed animals. All of that is extremely important to make sure your baby is safe during the night. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make for the coziest bed situation for your child. Babies are uncomfortable on a hard mattress, with nothing to cuddle with—who can blame them? Your job is to keep them safe but make them as comfortable as you can with safe sleep approved products, like swaddles, warm pajamas, and a pacifier if you’d like.
- Have a bedtime routine. A bedtime routine is one of the most critical parts of getting your baby to sleep better. Babies love a routine and thrive the most when they are part of one. A good bedtime routine helps them relax, settle down, and eventually lets them realize it’s time for sleep. It can include things like bathing them, putting their pajamas on, doing the last feed of the day, reading a book, and maybe listening to a lullaby.
- Keep the room super dark. Small babies aren’t afraid of the dark, and it’s the best way for them to get deep sleep. At night, this probably isn’t an issue—just don’t use a nightlight when they’re really little and keep any other lights away from them. It’s during the day that it becomes a problem. Blackout shades or blinds will quickly become your best friend.
- Adjust the temperature. You might think your baby wants to be warm at night (mainly because their hands and feet generally run cold), but overheating puts them at risk for SIDS. Instead, try to keep the room on the cooler side. Experts say the best temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep them as healthy as possible. Even if your child is a good sleeper, other factors may keep them up. A lot of babies, especially newborns and infants, have trouble with congestion (their tiny airways aren’t all the way developed!). To keep them breathing correctly and not getting too stuffed up, things like humidifiers are always suggested.
Sound Machine: Hatch Baby Rest
Sound machines are important enough that you should get a great one instead of just opting for an app on your phone or playlists on Spotify. The Hatch Baby Rest is a wonderful investment for your child. A 3-in-1 product, it acts as a sound machine, a nightlight, and a time-to-rise alert, so it has everything you need. When your baby is tiny, just use the sound machine. As they grow, you can use the nightlight (which is also really convenient for midnight feedings and diaper changes) and then the morning alert.
Another super convenient feature is that you can control the Hatch Baby Rest from your phone. Downloading an app allows you to have full control over the color, the brightness of the light, the sound playing, and the volume, all from another room, so you don’t disturb your baby. There are a bunch of different sounds and colors to choose from, and you can select whichever combination you and your child like the most. It’s easy to set up and super user-friendly.
Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine, Night Light and Time-to-Rise
The Hatch Baby Rest is a sound machine, nightlight, and morning alert all in one and can be controlled from your phone.
Transitional Swaddle: Classic Zippadee Zip
Swaddles are a safe way to keep baby feeling comforted throughout the night, as they mimic the feeling baby had in the womb. Using them in the first few months can be a lifesaver. The only problem is that they are only safe until about four months or until baby can roll over on their own. Many parents find it difficult to transition their baby out of the swaddle and maintain great sleep, and that’s where a transitional swaddle comes in.
The Zippadee Zip is a safe, highly-rated option. It’s loose enough to give baby plenty of movement, and while the arms and enclosed hands allow bay to continue feeling swaddled, they also let baby roll over from back to stomach and back again. It’s similar to a sleep sack, but the closed hands can help a baby’s startle reflex and make this one different. And this one is safe to use until they’re 3-years-old, so don’t worry about them getting attached.
SleepingBaby Zipadee-Zip Swaddle Transition Baby Swaddle Blanket with Zipper, Cozy Baby Swaddle Wrap and Baby Sleep Sack (Medium 6-12 Months | 18-26 lbs, 29-33 inches | Classic Pink)
The Zippadee Zip is a safe swaddle alternative that can be used up to three-years-old.
Wearable Blanket: Halo Sleepsack
A wearable blanket is great for a few situations: if your baby doesn’t like their arms to be swaddled, if you’re transitioning baby out of the swaddle, or if you think your baby is cold in their footie pajamas and want a safe extra layer. The Halo Sleepsack is a favorite among parents for the cute designs available, the comfortable but light material, and the loose, hip-healthy design.
This sleep sack keeps baby warm on really cold nights, can’t be kicked off like a blanket, and is sleeveless, so it doesn’t hinder arm movement. There’s an inverted zipper up the front that allows for easy diaper changes as well, which is always a plus.
HALO Sleepsack 100% Cotton Wearable Blanket, TOG 0.5, Huggy Bears, Medium
The Halo Sleepsack keeps baby warm and feeling comfortable while still ensuring their safety.
Blackout Curtains: Tommee Tippee GroAnywhere Portable Travel Blackout Blinds
Babies sleep best in total darkness, but during the day, that can feel near impossible. The trick is to use blackout curtains or blinds in their room. It’s easy enough to hang them in the nursery, but what if your baby is sleeping somewhere else or you go on vacation? That’s where Tommee Tippee GroAnywhere Portable Travel Blackout Blinds come in.
These portable “blinds” use suction cups to adhere to any window to keep light out so baby can have a peaceful and dark sleep environment no matter where they are. They couldn’t be easier to put up and come in a travel bag so you can take them anywhere.
Tommee Tippee GroAnywhere Portable Travel Baby Blackout Blind, Star and Moon, Black
These portable Tommee Tippee blackout curtains attach to any window with a suction cup and keep out light.
A Lovie: Boritar Elephant Baby Security Blanket
A lovie is a tiny security blanket that usually looks like a small stuffed animal turned into a small blanket. This is a safe alternative to a full blanket that doesn’t exactly provide warmth but does provide comfort and support for a baby who doesn’t like to be alone. The AAP doesn’t recommend using a lovie until a baby is a year old, but at that point, you can introduce one if you want.
This Boritar Elephant Baby Security Blanket is an adorable option. The dotted plush fabric gives your baby more texture to touch while the little elephant face is fun for them.
BORITAR Elephant Baby Security Blanket Soft Minky Dot Fabric Lovey Blanket with Lovely Animal Pattern Backing, Stuffed Plush Cuddle Newborn Blankie 14 Inch
This Boritar Elephant lovie is a great way to comfort baby safely.
Humidifier: FridaBaby 3-in-1 Humidifier with Diffuser and Nightlight
A humidifier is a good way to prevent your baby from getting sick and to stop congestion in its tracks when it comes along. It can also help your baby breathe better in general. You can use any humidifier, of course, but the FridaBaby 3-in-1 Humidifier was made with small children in mind.
Its most important role is acting as a cool-mist humidifier that can run up to 12 hours. It has an adjuster that releases a gentle mist or a lot more moisture, depending on what you’re looking for. You can also use it as a diffuser by adding essential oils or drops for even easier breathing (and a nice smell). Lastly, it can be used as a nightlight if needed with a range of colors. The humidifier will turn off automatically if the water runs out as well.
Frida Baby Fridababy 3-in-1 Humidifier with Diffuser and Nightlight, White
The FridaBaby 3-in-1 Humidifier adds moisture to the air and can also be used as a diffuser and nightlight if needed.
To Stop Congestion: NoseFrida SnotSucker
If you notice your baby has a stuffed up nose or is coughing or sneezing a lot, you may need to help them get the snot out of there—they don’t know how to get it out themselves. Using a tissue isn’t very useful since babies don’t know how to blow snot into it, and you don’t want to hurt them by sticking your fingers up their nose. The NoseFrida SnotSucker is a great way to clear up a stuffed nose, no matter how disgusting it may sound.
How it works is simple: you stick one end into the baby’s nose, then use the suction part to suck the snot out of there. Filters keep it from getting into your mouth (or else this would be a nightmare), and it’s an effective way to keep baby breathing clearly.
Baby Nasal Aspirator NoseFrida the Snotsucker with 20 Extra Hygiene Filters by Frida Baby
The NoseFrida SnotSucker allows you to clear up a stuffy nose instantly for better sleep.
Glow In The Dark Pacifier: MAM Night Pacifier
A pacifier can be a game-changing way to soothe baby when they’re upset or agitated. They can also really help babies fall asleep faster. But here’s the thing: they tend to drop out of a baby’s mouth during the night. Picture this: your child is sleeping peacefully with their pacifier when it just naturally falls out (or they spit it out). It may be a delayed reaction, or it could happen right away, but at some point, your baby will realize it’s gone and start crying for it. They either can’t retrieve it on their own, or they can’t find it in the dark.
That’s precisely why you may want a MAM Night Pacifier, which conveniently glows in the dark. Baby can see it clearly in the middle of the night, and when they’re able to grab it, they can do so and (hopefully) put themselves back to sleep.
MAM Night Pacifiers 0-6 Months, Best for Breastfed Babies, Glow in the Dark, Baby Boy, 2 Count
The MAM Night Pacifier glows in the dark so baby can retrieve it themselves to fall back asleep.
A Sleep Training Program: Owlet Dream Lab
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your baby just needs some extra sleep falling asleep. It’s not uncommon for parents to reach a stage where they realize they need sleep, and the baby needs sleep, and they become desperate. Even if they were trying to avoid it before, sleep training (which almost always involves some form of “crying it out,” AKA letting the baby cry themselves to sleep), becomes unavoidable.
If you’re trying to do this, don’t do it alone. A sleep training program like Owlet’s new Dream Lab is a great solution for parents who are looking for expert help on getting their baby to sleep, without spending a ton of money. Sign up, pay a fee, answer some questions, and then get a plan to get your baby on a sleep training track you definitely won’t regret. Owlet Dream Lab gives a customized sleep guide based on your baby, tells you how you can improve, and offers helpful videos along the way.