When it came to sleep-related products, I assumed we would just pick out a crib and a few pairs of pajamas and that would be that. As I delved a little deeper into this category of baby products, I found that there were about 500 different swaddling blankets out there, all promising that the mere sight of the blanket would calm a screaming infant down instantly (seriously, I think the Miracle Blanket does in fact make this claim).
Talk about overwhelming!
Here are a few items to start with for all of your sleeping and soothing needs:
Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets
If you peruse any baby blogs, you will find that these muslin blankets are, by far, the most recommended baby swaddling option. They are big, easy to use and decorated with the most adorable patterns. In addition to their swaddling capabilities, they are also a great, light blanket for walks on cool days, a handy sun shade for the stroller and a perfect play area for the grass at the park.
These are the standard issue hospital pacifiers, and seem to be universally beloved by every baby that I have met recently. B only used a pacifier for the first few months, but you can bet that our house was fully stocked with them and we never left the house without at least two in the diaper bag.
The Happiest Baby on the Block
I received a copy of this book from a colleague at my work baby shower, and it was one of the few books that I read before B arrived. In it, pediatrician Harvey Karp describes that the first couple of months after birth as “the fourth trimester.” In other words, they aren’t quite ready for all that the outside world is throwing at them. Karp suggests that best way to calm them down is to try to recreate the environment of the womb. The rest of the book goes on to outline his “5 S” sleep strategy, which consists of swaddling, placing the baby on its side or stomach, shushing sounds, swinging motions and sucking (on either a pacifier or their thumb).
The rationale behind this method actually makes a lot of sense and the techniques are pretty effective in calming a fussy baby. Sometimes I didn’t even need to go through all five steps before B was out like a light.
If you are a more visual learner, there are also DVDs that explain the method and some hospitals and birth centers offer classes to explain it in more detail.
We were first introduced to this white noise app by Amanda, the fabulous photographer who took newborn pictures for us when B was just ten days old. Chester and I promptly downloaded it to our phones when we saw it work its magic and keep B asleep for more than an hour during her photo shoot. It makes the perfect shushing sound for Karp’s “5 S” method described above. And, since it is portable, it saved my sanity on quite a few of my solo car trips with B.
Baby Einstein Sea Dream Crib Soother
I purchased this crib soother a couple of weeks after we transitioned B to her crib and the soft lights and soothing music seemed to make a huge difference in her ability to calm down and go to sleep at night. I, however, realized that the tunes it plays sound a little like the background music that the creepy butler on American Horror Story: Coven used to play in his attic. Thankfully, B has never seen that show.
I quickly found out that trying to put a shirt on a newborn baby is absolutely frightening. Their head goes back and forth, like one of those bobblehead dolls they give out at baseball games. So, B lived in button or zip up, footed pajamas for the first few weeks, when all she did was sleep. They were the easiest to take on and off for all of those diaper changes and she seemed pretty comfortable in them. When you are putting your registry together, I recommend stocking up on these in the newborn/0-3 month sizes and buying real “outfits” for later.
Like the A & A swaddles, wearable blankets show up on just about every baby registry must-have list. The main benefit, obviously, is that they keep your baby warm at night, without the suffocation risk presented by a loose blanket. Halo seems to be the most recommended brand, but just about every baby clothing line has some version of this product. We didn’t use these a ton because the upstairs rooms of our house tends to stay pretty warm. So, B was usually fine sleeping in her crib in just a pair of fleece pajamas. But, a few of these are good to have on hand for super chilly nights.
Motorola Wireless Video Monitor
In my opinion, a video monitor is a must for peace of mind when your baby is sleeping! I have heard mixed reviews about this model, but we have had no issues with it. The clarity is great—even when it is dark in B’s room at night, I can still see her breathing (which doesn’t mean that I still don’t go up there in person, multiple times during the evening so that I can put my hand on her chest, just to be sure).
I actually don’t think we had any misses in this category! We had things we simply didn’t use, or got very little use out of, but I certainly wouldn’t categorize them as bad products.
Swaddles are a good example of this phenomenon. Every baby is different when it comes to swaddling. B, for example, didn’t really enjoy being wrapped up like a baby burrito (disappointing, because those are totally adorable) and she was only really happy when we swaddled her with her arms out. You might need to practice with a few techniques and blankets to figure out which one makes your baby the most comfortable. We had at least one of all the popular swaddles (including the aforementioned Miracle Blanket and Summer Infant SwaddleMes), just to have on hand. But, the A & A blankets were the only ones that we ever used.
What would you add to this list?
For my thoughts on a few popular baby sleep solutions, including the Mamaroo, the Rock and Play Sleeper and the Pack and Play, see my baby gear post.