Once upon a time, I slept for nine hours a night. Now I have a six-month old. She sleeps great ... from 6pm to 3am. *Sigh*
That means six hours of slumber has become a sweet night’s sleep for me. It seems like every time we conquer one sleep issue (pacifier dependence) another one pops up (Help mommy! I got stuck on my tummy and I'm SO MAD about it!).
Thankfully, there are some tools out there that make nighttime a little easier.
Full disclosure: this post is not sponsored. None of these companies have paid me to promote their products (not even my own company pays me - yay start-up!). These really are things that have made a difference for my family. I’ve paid for each one myself...and they were worth every penny.
So, without further ado, my five favorite sleep supports:
#1 The Miracle Blanket
Do you have a little Houdini on your hands? As a newborn, Winnie would escape ANY swaddle and wake up each time she startled - approximately every 60 minutes. Welcome to parenthood!
Then, during a sad, sleep-deprived lunch, my sister-in-law told me about the Miracle Blanket. Hallelujah! It was a miracle, indeed.
The Miracle Blanket has two layers of swaddle. First there are flaps that tuck around each arm. Then there’s a traditional swaddle wrap that goes over top, except this flap is longer and wraps around more times. Those extra layers can contain even the most creative swaddle-escape artist. Winnie slept five hours in a row the first night we used it. I felt like a new woman.
Safety note: Be sure to transition out of the swaddle when your little one starts to roll over.
#2 Smitten Sleep System
Surprise! One of my favorite sleep supports is the one I make! This science-backed, portable safe sleep space was a lifesaver. (I joined the company because I loved Smitten SO much.) Smitten was designed by a leading safe sleep expert and is based on the best available SIDS and suffocation prevention research. The box is super light, making it easy to move it around the house, pack it for road trips, and still get it upstairs for bedtime. Plus, Winnie knew Smitten was her bed so, even when we traveled, she slept as well as she did at home.
Winnie slept in her Smitten next to our bed until she was four months old. Then, Smitten was clutch for the crib transition. We put the box directly in Winnie’s crib for a week or so to help her get used to her nursery. Then, we took the Smitten away and just used the crib. It was seamless. Now, we've transitioned Smitten into an easy-to-carry play space when we're on the go.
#3 Baby Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit
Winnie slept so well in her Miracle Blanket that I was devastated when it was time for her transition out of it (but, safety first!). Enter Baby Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit.
Winnie started to roll over when she was still pretty young (three months). That meant no more swaddle, but her startle reflex would still wake her. The Sleepsuit was a perfect middle ground. The trick is the weight of the fabric - not so heavy that babies can’t move, but heavy enough to muffle their startle response. It provided just enough resistance that Winnie didn’t flail in her sleep but still let her move her arms and legs. Plus, she looked like a little baby astronaut, and who doesn’t want that?
Side note: I worried that Winnie would be too hot, but the fabric wasn't *that* thick - more like a summer weight comforter. We dressed Winnie lightly underneath (onesie only - no footie pjs) and she slept great. I never found her to be sweaty when she woke up. If you have a baby that runs super-hot, it might help to go diaper only underneath the Sleepsuit.
#4 The Halo SleepSack and Wearable Blanket
To help prevent SIDS, it’s best to keep baby’s room a cool 68-72 degrees. It’s also safest to keep loose blankets out of the crib (or Smitten!) for the first year of baby’s life. Plus, no swaddling or restrictive covers after baby can roll over.
Brrrr. That’s a recipe for a baby popsicle.
Enter the Halo SleepSack - a safe, wearable blanket to keep baby warm, but not too warm, at night. Halo offers staged wearable blankets ranging from a velcro swaddle up to a walker. Winnie escaped the swaddle easily (see: Miracle Blanket), but the wearable blanket has been excellent. Winnie is free to roll, keeps warm, and her blanket stays a safe distance from her mouth and nose. That means mama and baby are both happy.
As a health educator, I love that every SleepSack comes with the "back is best" label to promote safe sleep. Three cheers for well-placed, well-timed public health messaging!
#5 The Marpac Dohm white Noise machine
This thing. Oh this thing. It’s a sleepy-time miracle for babies and parents alike. For babies, Dohm helps drown out background noises and cues your little one that it’s time for sleep. For parents, Dohm helps dampen the normal vocalizations that babies make while they’re sleeping. You can still hear it when your baby cries out, but you are less likely to wake up when baby murmurs in her sleep.
Why Dohm in particular? The Dohm is a fan, not a recording. I tried a white noise app on my phone, but would lie in bed listening for the hiccup of the recorded track starting a new loop each 23.5 minutes. Dohm doesn’t have this because it's mechanical, not electronic. Dohm makes a nice, soothing, low whir without any loops, all night long. That's my kind of lullaby.
#6 (BONUS) The Newton Mattress
I’m hesitant to recommend this because it costs the Earth, but the Newton mattress really is amazing. If you have a pile of cash lying around, or if you freak out about suffocation risk like I do, the Newton mattress is a great option because it’s completely breathable. Completely. Your little one can smash her face into it and breathe normally. (Trust me, the first thing I did was mash my face into the mattress and inhale. Mind blown.)
The Newton itself looks a little like a plate of stiff spaghetti and is pretty firm. The breathable mattress cover makes it a little cushier, but we ended up appreciating the firmness. It made it easier for Winnie to push-up and roll from her belly to her back when she flipped herself in the nighttime.
You can also wash the Newton down in the shower to keep it clean. Yes, that's right. You can hose this mattress down.
Well. That's my list! Here's hoping that we all sleep like babies tonight...
Pip & Grow co-founder, Kate Compton Barr, is a public health expert and new mom. She's blogging about the twists, turns, and adventures of mom-life.