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Creating the perfect sleep environment for your baby is an ongoing and evolving task the first few years. Our baby sleep guide is here to help as your little one grows along with their sleep habits and patterns. Providing a comfortable and safe space for your little one to sleep will help cultivate a lifetime of healthy and successful sleeping. It will also help you as a parent get your much needed rest too.
Figuring out what and where works best for your baby to sleep may take a bit of trial and error. However, there are several products available today that will help transition your baby from the protection of the womb to sleeping through the night in their own bed.
Our nursery guide provides some of our suggestions on products that we recommend. Compiled from our first hand experiences with our daughter, Lily. Hopefully this will help make sure that you and your nursery is ready to go once your little one is home.
Newborns sleeping patterns will be erratic, yet frequent. In the first few weeks of life your little one will be sleeping between 16-17 hours a day/night and mostly in short 2-3 hour windows. The first 6-8 weeks your baby will probably be most comfortable sleeping in close quarters that feel like the womb and swaddled to feel content. They may also enjoy sleeping with a little bit of noise in the background to mimic their time in utero. Below are a few products that will help your newbie sleep sound during their time adjusting to the new world.
More than likely a crib won’t be used until they are a bit older and having a small, more portable sleeping space is your best bet. The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play is a product that is just that. It’s compact and cocooning and is the perfect size to even have next to your bed if you want to keep your little one close by. It easily folds up and is light weight to move to any room in the house.
We utilized this perfectly sized, portable bed in almost every room, every day for several months. Keeping it next to our bed allowed us to keep an eye on Lily while trying to get sleep ourselves. The Rock and Play has a slight incline to keep her head elevated and a mesh surround to safely allow plenty of air flow. It is also shaped to only allow for back sleeping and has minimal to no safety hazards. This was a must have for us upon arriving home from the hospital and was invaluable.
Another item you will more than likely use daily the first few weeks are swaddle blankets. Wrapping your newborn up in a burrito like swaddle will become second nature in no time. Having this safe, binding feeling helps remind your baby of their time in the womb and eases them into their new surroundings. It also helps ease them into a nice, sound sleep.
We had received a few different brands of swaddling blankets and though some would argue they are all the same, I would disagree. I was skeptical that something as simple as a muslin baby blanket could be so different but once we got Lily home we learned that the Aden + Anais swaddle blankets were not only a little bit larger, but they also were softer and much more breathable than the other brands. These blankets have been perfect for warmer as well as cooler environments and wash up nicely. They are multi-functional and are so breathable that they act as a great car seat cover too. These blankets are a definite must have on your nursery registry.
A Pack n Play may not seem like an item that seems necessary in the beginning months. However, this particular version with the reversible napper and changer comes in handy in more ways than one. The original Pack and Play was basically a transportable crib, however, there are a few variations that grow with your child and their needs that make it great to have as a secondary crib as well as a diaper changing station.
We underestimated just how handy this convenient product really would be. Considering we have a two story house with the bedrooms(including the changing table) separate from the main living space made the pack n’ play even more necessary. Especially when there is a handy little flippable basket attached that makes the perfect height changing station as well as a slightly inclined space for napping too. This particular little basket will probably only work for the first few months, however, the rest of the pack n’ play will make for a convenient, portable crib for traveling and visits to Grandma’s for several more months.
*Also, a little tip, even with the flippable basket attached I set the height for the platform of the pack n play at the elevated level (see video below!). This made for a great space to keep diapers, baby wipes, bibs, extra clothes, etc. It also allowed me to continue using the space as a changing table after she outgrew the basket. I would just recommend keeping the surface covered and even laying down a washable changing mat, like these Bamboo Changing Pad Liners, they worked perfect for this.
It might be counterintuitive, but silence is not necessarily the key to helping your newborn fall and stay asleep. All the time they spent growing in the womb they were exposed to countless sounds muffled and softened just enough to create the perfect lullaby. Recreating this experience will only help their transition into their new environment. Utilizing a sound machine to produce a nice, soothing backdrop of sounds may be the perfect answer to a restful night.
We used the HoMedics soothing sound machine to fill our room with the gentle sound of waves to help ease all of us to sleep. This particular sound machine worked out perfect for us. We didn’t want something too large and had the convenience or adding batteries if needed. It has six different noise options and even a timer to set. The best part about this sound machine is the price, for less than $20 you can have a great little noise machine that won’t break the bank and was a great addition to what we needed for the first few months and beyond.
Somewhere between 3 and 6 months you will more than likely transition your baby to their own room and crib, if you haven’t already. More than likely your nursery will be ready to go by this point. If not, you don’t want to have the headache of over thinking what you’ll need. You also want to make sure that it is an easy transition, not only for your baby, but for you too. Below are a few products we recommend for getting your little one accustomed to their own room and bed.
Finding a nice solid crib with a supportive and comfortable mattress is key for your baby’s new bed. Safety and durability are at the top of many people’s list of what to look for in a crib and mattress, as they should be. Price, style and comfort also play a role in finding what is just right for you and your new addition. Today many cribs must abide by certain standards that keep safety a priority. So finding a crib that is considered safe is less of a cautionary tale than in years gone by. As far as a mattress goes, it is recommended that a firm mattress is best to ensure your little one will have plenty of support and a nice flat surface.
When preparing Lily’s nursery I wanted to go with a natural light wood crib. I had some other furniture that I wanted to match it too, as well as a color that would work well for future siblings too. This slightly narrowed my search since I wanted a specific finish. I also wanted to stick within a budget but still wanted a quality, sturdy crib too. I found the Ashton Dream on Me Crib and found that it checked pretty much all of my boxes. This also was a convertible crib that can transition as she grows, which is a nice option if we choose.
As far as the crib mattress goes, we wanted something that would be firm and supportive. The Sealy Premier Posture Dual Sided crib mattress was what we ended up purchasing. We found this double sided mattress had one side designated for infants while the other side was for toddlers. This allowed for one side to be slightly firmer than the other. We though this mattress would be great for transitioning as well as offer the necessary support while she was growing. Though this crib and mattress may be only used for a short period of time you do want to ensure your baby is safe, properly supported and comfortable.
*The only thing I will note with this crib and crib mattress combination is that the crib has a slightly springy base for the mattress to sit on. This made the mattress feel a little less firm, and if that is a concern I would recommend adding a bunky board or something similar to give the mattress a firmer platform.
You have the crib and the mattress, but now it’s time to add a protector to keep the mattress clean and stain free. As well as a nice soft sheet for your baby’s sensitive skin. Having a protector is absolutely necessary, in my opinion. If not, you are asking for an unsanitary, stain filled mess on your mattress, and nobody wants their baby on that. With the amount of accidents, spit up as well as dust mites and germs floating around, having a protector is an easy solution. Covering the protector with a fitted sheet is next. Having a sheet that fits tight to the mattress, is soft to the touch as well as breathable, is your best bet. A cute design or fun color doesn’t hurt either!
To start, you want to put a protector directly over the mattress. We have a few different protectors that we have floated between but I kept gravitating back to the Sealy Crib Mattress Pad & Protector. It not only has a great water proof barrier, but has just a slight amount of padding to give a nice soft feel. As far as the crib sheet goes, I prefer a soft, breathable cotton option and Jersey cotton is just that. American Baby Company makes a great Jersey knit crib sheet that is available in several colors and comes in at a great price too. This crib sheet is the perfect balance of practical and posh. Together the protector and sheet make for a great combination and add a layer of protection as well as a soft touch.
A pillow for your little one’s crib may sound controversial. However, in some instances it may be better than leaving their head and neck in a new, flat unsupported surface. If your baby hasn’t slept on a completely flat surface yet, moving them to a crib may be a bit of a shock to what they’re use to. Using a pillow to help cradle their head, as well as keep them on their back and not straining their neck may be a helpful tool while they adjust to their crib.
Lily slept next to our bed in a Rock and Play for several months and transitioning her to her crib took a few weeks for her to get use to. One thing that was hard to watch was laying her on her back on her flat crib and seeing her struggle with no support around her head like she had been use to. Her neck looked strained as she moved her head from one side to the other and I found this pillow to be a huge help. It was a memory foam pillow that had a firmer surface that contoured to her head. The pillow supported her head and neck while keeping her positioned on her back. It also helped keep her head shape more rounded instead of flattening from laying on it.
Having this pillow is something I would recommend only until your little one is about 6 months old. Once she started to move around and roll over the pillow was no longer an option. It was great for transitioning, but once your baby has adjusted and starts to roll the less that is in the crib, the better.
Unless you live in a climate with constant humidity, or are fortunate to have a built in humidifier in your house, a humidifier will be necessary to help ease your little one’s skin into the world. After nine months of protection and surrounded by fluid, a baby’s new skin may have a difficult time adjusting, especially to a drier climate. Protecting your babe from drying out with the simple use of a humidifier is an easy and necessary product to add to their nursery.
The Crane Drop humidifier was a sleek and stylish looking cool mist humidifier that was one of the first things I added to my registry. Having my daughter in October in Minnesota meant that she would be entering the world at a time when the air would be getting cooler and drier very quickly. Adding moisture to the air was a must, especially in whichever room she would be sleeping in most. Even with a humidifier Lily still went through her own struggle with seasonal eczema, so our humidifier was running 24/7 to keep her comfortable. If you are in a dry climate, I would almost recommend multiple humidifiers to keep your house humid enough for your little one to adjust to.
A monitor is a definite for any parent, first time or 5th time around. Having the peace of mind a monitor can bring while your baby is sleeping in a different room is priceless. Having a monitor that not only has sound but also has a full view adjustable screen, temperature gauge and even a microphone is even better. It’s also small and light enough to move around if your little one happens to fall asleep somewhere other than their crib and you still want to keep an eye, or ear, on them.
Summer Infant offers several different monitors that range in function and price. I have found this brand to be a quality brand that has been durable, reliable and a good fit for us. I especially liked the full view video monitor with a 5 inch screen that is easy to see and simple to adjust. The camera is small and unnoticeable as well as easy to move if needed too. The screen is a good size and light and portable and has great sound and picture. This brand and particular style are a must have registry item and will certainly help you keep an eye and ear on your little one while they sleep.
3-6 Month Sleeping Essentials – product links:
Hopefully by 6 months your little one has adjusted to sleeping in their own room. By this point they should also be sleeping longer, and if you’re lucky, even through the night! At this stage they definitely won’t want to be swaddled anymore and will be moving around a little more freely. To ensure that your baby stays warm, safe, and dry, we have a few products that should help them.
Sleep sacks have gained a lot of attention in the last several years. This is likely due to the fear of blankets in the crib deeply instilled in Moms. I have to admit that I personally went back and forth with using a blanket. Mostly when Lily wasn’t moving around much I could tuck it into the sides of the crib. At that time there were certain aspects of the sleep sack I didn’t care for. However, when she started to move around a lot more I was no longer comfortable with leaving any size or type of blanket in her crib.
Out of all the sleep sacks I had tried I thought that the Halo sleep sacks were the best. They are a very soft, breathable material that is just heavy enough to keep her warm without being too warm. These sacks also zip up from the bottom so diaper changing doesn’t require completely unzipping. They are also available in several sizes that offer plenty of room to grow and have a ton of cute patterns and colors to choose from. For sleep sacks I would say these are a good go to basic to keep on hand.
The genius of the wubbanub may not be realized until your child starts self soothing by picking up their plushy and popping it in their mouth. In the first 6 months our daughter didn’t really gravitate towards the shape of this particular nook. However, by the time she was able to figure out she could hold onto it herself, I was sold.
This clever design features a pacifier sewn onto a small, cute stuffed animal. It makes for a great soother in several ways. Once your child understands that they can easily find it when it falls out it makes your life much easier. This pacifier is also much less likely to get lost than a traditional nook too. And once your little one outgrows the nook, it could be removed so they can still have their stuffed animal. I had gotten two of these for Lily early on and wasn’t sure if they would ever be used, but eventually they became her go to soothing mechanism and I would get one for all expectant mothers.
This is another item some may question whether or not is safe to have in the crib. I was torn on whether or not to have this item too, considering I feel like there is horror stories for having one and horror stories for not having one. I decided to use a mesh crib liner to try and create a barrier for arms and legs to not get stuck between the slats, but also be able to have plenty or air flow just in case she fell asleep next to it.
The Breathablebaby Mesh Crib Liner is more or less trying to solve a problem without creating a new one with this design. Having a crib liner, or bumper, prevents your child from getting their arms or legs stuck in the crib slats. However, they became associated with causing a problem with children falling asleep with their faces too close and suffocating. This design is a breathable, mesh material that allows plenty of air to flow through. This to me felt like the best compromise for preventing injury in either regard.
This may seem like wishful thinking. 12 straight hours of a sleeping baby probably sounds like bliss after several months of wakeful nights. However, there will come a day when your little one will be sleeping through the night. When that time comes the best way to help is making sure that their diaper is up for the task.
Switching to a diaper at night that can hold more moisture will help keep your baby sleeping a little sounder. They can also help prevent any accidents. My daughter still likes to have a bottle very close to bedtime and typically her diaper gets most of the moisture shortly after she falls asleep. Sometimes I try to sneak in a few hours after she falls asleep to change her to a dry diaper. However, sometimes I don’t and having a diaper that is going to keep her comfortable is important.
Huggies, as well as many other brands, have diapers specifically for overnight protection and dryness. They designed these diapers with extra layers. This helps pull moisture away and keep your baby’s skin dry. These are by no means fail proof. Our daughter drinks quite a bit of liquids. For us it wouldn’t matter what diaper she had on. There were a few times that nothing could have trapped that much liquid. However, these do work very well for most nights, and definitely have the extra layers the daytime diapers don’t offer.
Our Baby Sleep Guide will be continuously updating as our daughter grows with more first hand experience and product recommendations. More to come in the next few months!
Please note, all the above mentioned content and product reference is based on opinion and personal experience. If you have any questions about the safety or the use of these products for your own child, that is at your own discretion.
Check out this article if you want general tips for better sleep