8 of the Best Baby Sleep Aids You'll Want to Be Using
Sleep, or lack thereof, is usually the hottest topic for new moms. Whether it's their babies or themselves (usually both), someone is often not getting enough during baby's first year. Even though many of the patterns we see from young babies is developmental and completely normal, as we outlined in Newborn Sleep Patterns and Schedules for the First Year, there are certainly ways to help your baby sleep for longer stretches of time as they grow. Today we have 8 of the best sleep aids that are completely safe that will help your baby get a better night's sleep.
As moms ourselves, we want to be sure we're not giving you gimmicks, but instead tried and true sleep aids we've used with our own little ones. Each of these, implemented within a proper sleep routine, will help your baby to a path of many sleep-filled nights.
The Dreamland Weighted Swaddle is the perfect sleep aid for newborns who are not yet crawling (approximately the 0 - 4 month age range.)
Swaddling begins for babies soon after birth as it's common practice in most hospitals. This is because new babies have just entered a big, bright, and open world - very different from their cozy home of the last 9 months. Once you bring your baby home, it's up to you to continue the swaddling, and we highly recommend you do to create a womb-like environment for your little one. The Dreamland Baby Weighted Swaddle, however, is not your typical swaddle and offers so much more.
It's Dreamland Baby's original wearable weighted blanket with swaddle wings (that can be detached once your baby no longer needs to be swaddled.) The lightly weighted design increases both serotonin and melatonin, which naturally reduces stress and increases relaxation. This, alongside the other benefits of a swaddle, one of which it limits the Moro (startle) reflex, makes it one of the top baby sleep aids you're going to want to have as soon as your baby enters the world. (Yes, we definitely recommend you bring this in your hospital bag and start using it right away!) Plus its simple design makes it easy to use, too.
With your baby in their Dreamland Swaddle, be sure you're placing them on their back, and removing the swaddle wings as soon as they are able to roll over independently.
Swaddles work wonders for young infants, but they can't stay in them forever. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, "When an infant exhibits signs of attempting to roll, swaddling should no longer be used." We go over when to make the switch in our article, "The 3 Signs it's Time to Stop Swaddling Your Baby."
Luckily, you don't have to give up the weighted wearable blanket your baby has become accustomed to. If you already have the swaddle design, you'll simply remove the wings. Easy peasy!
If you've ever used a weighted blanket yourself, then you know how relaxing and sleep-inducing they can be. The same is true for babies! This weighted wearable blanket from Dreamland Baby is weighted all over the front so that it mimics a hug. This is definitely something you'll want to include in your baby's sleep routine every time you lay them down.
Mom, Ashlee M., has first-hand experience using the weighted wearable blanket as a baby sleep aid and writes,
"My baby has slept longer since using this sleep weighted sack! It’s incredible! Plus it’s super comfortable!! I just can’t believe the difference this has made. I wish I would have had it when she was a newborn, but didn’t get until she was like 9 months old. It’s been a blessing since we got it though! It works mamas! I highly recommend it! This mama has got a lot more sleep thanks to the Dreamland baby weighted sleep sack!”
Another reliable sleep aid that's been helping babies sleep since the beginning of time are lullabies. Our article, "The Best Soothing Lullabies for Baby Sleep," discusses the importance of utilizing music in a baby's sleep routine. And the singing of soothing lullabies to your little one is likely instinctive. I think most parents can easily remember a few from childhood, but it's not really the words that matter.
Singing lullabies to your baby is the perfect sleep aid when getting them to transition from wake to sleep. It's calming, and when offered alongside rocking and your soothing touch, droopy eyelids are usually soon to follow.
Having a hard time ad libbing a lullaby for your baby? Here's a list of 10 of the most widely used lullabies from around the world.
4. Baby Massage to Aid Sleep
According to the Mayo Clinic, performing infant massage on your little one has many benefits.
-parent and baby bonding time
-helping your baby relax and prepare to sleep
-inducing the "happy hormone" serotonin which also reduces stress -reducing crying
The best time to perform infant massage is after your baby's bath, but before feeding her. (Too soon after a feed can be uncomfortable). It's the perfect way to calm her down after a stimulating day as part of the daily sleep routine you've implemented.
You'll want to control your touch enough that you're giving a gentle massage, but without tickling your baby (which obviously would not be relaxing!) You can massage your baby all over their body by offering gentle kneading or extending and bending your baby's arms and legs. We also recommend using lavender lotion while also talking softly or singing to your baby - both of which are calming sleep aids, too.
Once you've done this, it's time for jammies and swaddling (or weighted wearable blanket), before cozying up with your baby for one last feed of the day.
5. Diffuser with Lavender Essential Oil
As we just mentioned, lavender is a calming sleep aid. And lavender essential oil, according to Dr. Daniel Ganjian who spoke to Romper, "Lavender oil can help a baby sleep. It can be soothing and cause the baby to relax."
The Baby Sleep Site agrees with lavender oil's ability to help a baby sleep. They do caution, however, that you want to be sure that the oil you are using is pure therapeutic grade with no fillers.
Not only can these oils be used on your baby during infant massage, but they can also be diffused in your baby's room to create a calming environment as they drift off to dreamland. This will help clean and purify the air while also giving off the a sleep-inducing scent.
6. Black-Out Curtains to Aid Baby's Sleep
You know how great you sleep when you go to hotel? Well one of the reasons is because many hotels use black-out curtains to make it so not an inch of light will come into your room. Perfect for those lazy vacation mornings! So if black out curtains can mean more sleep for you, they can do the same for your baby.
But it doesn't only allow them to sleep later in the mornings, it also allows them to go down easier in the evenings. In the winter this won't matter nearly as much, but for a good portion of the year, you're going to be laying your baby down for bed while it's still light outside. It takes time for baby's circadian rhythms to adjust so that they know day is for wake and night is for sleep, and the light from outdoors can send them the wrong signal. Parents can help their babies start learning the difference as soon as they are home from the hospital, and black-out curtains help with that. Just make sure they're fully closed, and these become a simple sleep aid you need in your baby's life!
7. Noise Machine
Earlier we talked about how soothing your voice can be for your baby when you sing them a lullaby. While this is a great way to get your baby relaxed and ready to fall asleep, what about once it's time to walk away and leave them to sleep for the night? We've discussed before how important establishing a good sleep routine is in teaching your baby sleeping independently. So you want to make sure you allow them a quiet environment to make uninterrupted sleep possible. Something that works great for this is a noise machine.
Even if you don't live in a noisy city or have trains zooming by in the middle of the night, chances are the sounds from you and your significant other or the TV are making their way into your baby's room. These will only make it harder for your baby to sleep, but a noise machine can mask those noises.
Noise machines usually offer lots of different sounds to choose from such as ocean waves, heartbeats, or nature sounds. Continuous noise, such as rain, is often the most effective. Just be sure you're keeping the volume low, with 50 dB being the maximum recommended noise level by the AAP.
8. Pacifier as a Sleep Aid
During your "new mom" research, you may find that the pacifier is widely referred to as a "sleep prop" which generally has a negative connotation. "Sleep props" are usually defined as something external that a baby needs in order to fall asleep. But in our article, "5 Myths and a Truth About Baby Sleep," we remind parents that not all sleep props are bad.
Pacifiers being one of them.
Pacifiers are given to babies by nurses in hospitals and are even recommended by the AAP for safe sleep. Babies have a natural desire to suck, and when they are not able to feed, many need a pacifier as a sleep aid for self-soothing.
If your baby spits it out or pushes it away, there is no need to keep trying. Or if you are constantly having to go in to your baby's room to replace the pacifier, it may be time to eliminate it. Otherwise, if a pacifier is allowing your baby and you get the sleep you need, then be confident in your decision to use it to calm and relax your little one.
Final Word on Baby Sleep Aids
Helping your little one learn to sleep is a process. Though it's easier for some parents, it's certainly never easy for any. But each of these sleep aids we've listed will surely help in the process as you learn along the way exactly what your baby needs to be the best sleeper they can be.