There is no doubt about it, the baby business is booming! As a pediatric sleep expert, I am constantly surprised by all the new gadgets that come out seemingly every month promising better sleep for children. Parents I work with in private consultations are often introducing me to the latest sleep must-have. Even more surprising is how much money parents are spending on some of these products, even though most of them are not proven to improve sleep and in many cases go against SIDS prevention recommendations.
I am often asked what products I recommend to improve sleep. Most of the time I recommend keeping it simple and not to spend money on things that are offering to be a quick fix or something your baby will outgrow in a matter of weeks or months. More importantly, don’t spend money on unnecessary things! So, with that said, I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorite things that actually work towards sleep improvement and might actually be worth the money. This list compiles my most frequently recommended products, and why I think they are worth the investment:
1. The BittaSack by Bitta Kidda – I love wearable blankets as a form of warmth and comfort. Having an extra layer on top of pajamas can be just the added layer of comfort your baby needs to fall asleep. Not to mention, they cannot kick it off during the night! Wearable blankets are the only recommended blanket for babies 12 months and under for SIDS prevention, so it is a safe option. But my favorite thing about Bitta Kidda’s version is that it has lovies sewn onto the sleeping bag! Lovies can be incredibly helpful in encouraging self-soothing skills and independent sleep, but having toys in the crib can be an unnecessary SIDS risk. The BittaSack is the only safe lovie for young infants, which is why it is officially my favorite wearable blanket!
2. BlackoutEZ Window Covers – Darkness is THE KEY to melatonin production (the hormone that triggers sleep). Exposing children to complete darkness for sleep (especially for daytime naps), is essential! Most families I work with will tell me their child’s room is dark because they have blackout curtains, but I almost always tell them it is not dark enough. If you can see your hand in front of your face, then it is not dark enough! The BlackoutEZ Window Covers seal off the window to eliminate any light peeking through, no matter what the hour.
3. Claessens’ Kid’sleep Classic Clock – Toddler sleep trainer clocks are a staple when I work with kids 18 months and up. If your child cannot tell time, then they have no way of knowing whether it is morning or night when they wake in the middle of the night. This usually leads to them calling for mom/dad or coming to get you. A sleep trainer clock can be a helpful tool to help your child understand when they are expected to stay in bed and when they are allowed out of bed. I like the Claessens’ Kid’sleep Classic clock because it illuminates a picture that is easy for young children to understand. When the bunny on the clock is in bed, I am expected to be in bed. When the bunny on the clock is playing, I can get out of bed to play. Simple! (Yes, this clock glows and may bring some brightness to the room, but for toddlers, one nightlight can be helpful so they are not afraid of the dark, so this clock can serve as both a clock and nightlight).
4. QuickZip Crib Sheets – As a first-time mom, I was more concerned with how my baby’s nursery looked than its functionality. Once I had the realization that I actually had to remove the mattress to my daughter’s crib every time she needed clean sheets (which was A LOT), it didn’t take me long to abandon those custom-made sheets. Thankfully some more seasoned moms introduced me to these zip-on sheets. You literally zip off the top of the sheet and zip a clean one right on. The mattress never moves! This is a life hack every mom should know about! The bonus is these are even safer than a standard fitted crib sheet because it is securely attached to the mattress and you don’t have to worry about the corners popping up, which could become a SIDS risk.
5. Marpac Dohm Sound Machine – For light sleepers, it can be hard to tune out external sounds enough to fall asleep (especially during the day). Dogs barking, lawn mowers going, and other children playing can all be very disruptive to sleep. White noise can help tune out all those distractions so your child can fall asleep and stay asleep a little easier. I like the Dohm white noise machine because it is an actual fan making the sound rather than recorded static noise. It doesn’t offer a ton of different sound options, which can be more distracting to sleep. Most importantly, it doesn’t shut off! Many white noise machines automatically shut off after 30, 45 or 60 minutes. That sudden change in sound can actually cause your child to wake which kind of defeats the purpose. The Dohm sound machine will stay on for the duration of sleep, which is what I recommend if you are going to use white noise at all.
6. Covered Goods Multi-Use Nursing Covers – You may be asking how a nursing cover is sleep related. Well, it isn’t really except that this nursing cover can also be used as a car seat cover! I have yet to come across a baby that doesn’t occasionally need to take a nap in the car seat. For some babies, this can be a difficult task if they are just too stimulated by the world around them. Covering the car seat can help your baby block out all the visual stimuli so they can fall asleep a little easier, and hopefully stay asleep longer while on-the-go. The reason Covered Goods is my favorite car seat cover is because it wraps all the way around the car seat so there aren’t any holes on the sides that can distract your baby. It is a light, breathable material that provides for nice airflow while your baby naps (some car seat covers are just too heavy, especially in the summer heat)! And you can easily peak in the opening at the top to check on your baby without accidentally waking her. This car seat cover can be a lifesaver for a busy, multi-tasking momma!
7. Angel Dear Twin Blankie Set – As I mentioned before, lovies can be so very helpful to encourage children to learn self-soothing skills. Many children just love to hold onto something, or even chew on something while drifting off to sleep. The reason Angel Dear Blankies are my favorite is because they sell them in 2 (and even 3) packs!!! If your child is attached to a lovie (especially for sleep), you will undoubtedly have a day when the lovie cannot be found or absolutely must be washed during nap time. In these cases, you will be glad to have a spare on hand! I recommend rotating the lovies every week or two so they get equally worn. That way your child won’t know the difference when you hand him the “spare”.
So, there you have it, my absolute favorite “sleep tools” that may be worth spending money on. You will find that none of these products will break the bank, and more importantly can be a long-term part of your child’s sleep routine rather than a habit you will have to break your child of in a few months.
While these things can be helpful tools, none of them will magically make your child sleep through the night if they don’t have healthy sleep habits at the start. If you need guidance on how to help your child develop healthy sleep habits, book a free evaluation call with Dream Factory Sleep Solutions to get started with your own customized sleep plan!
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