As a new parent or even a second time parent, it's natural to wonder what the "secret" is to getting your baby to sleep. It's no surprise, as we weren't taught anything at the hospital and our pregnancies were spent preparing for arrival..not after we bring them home.
So, let's talk about it. I did some research to find out what parents are typing in their search bar in desperation when their babies aren't sleeping. It's a little wild, honestly. And before you continue reading, SPOILER.. there is NO secret product to baby sleep. Some may aid or slightly improve (as long as they are safe) but there isn't a one-size saving grace product for all families.
Products that are marketed to tired parents.
1. A fish cat toy that will pat your baby to sleep.
You guys, just no. This is not safe and almost laughable. But, I do understand that you may be reading this out of desperation. Please save your money and do not buy this.
2. Baby Oilogic Slumber & Sleep oils and sprays.
A 'magic' spray will not be enough to make your baby stay asleep. Sure, I can get on board with some aromatherapies, but they are not all you will need. They are great for cueing to your child that it's time to sleep, but a lot more is required within the routine.
3. Weighted sleep sacks
I love a good sleep sack. Only because they are a wearable blanket (when worn safely) and another cue for your baby that sleep is coming. Weighted sleep sacks have become increasingly popular and marketed to tired parents giving them hope that it will 'fix all your baby's sleep problems'. The truth is, it will not. It can foster great sleep when paired with the tips I am going to give you below.
4. Boppy newborn lounger (recalled)
3.3 million Boppy loungers were recalled after 8 infants died from suffocation while sleeping in the lounger unsupervised. Truth moment here. We used the Boppy loungers for my twins. They ate in those things and even napped. They came in super handy when double feeding and were easily transported throughout the house. Did I ever make an unsafe judgment in my sleepless haze? Probably.
I know it's difficult to not use these products that give us just an hour or two of sleep or rest. But, the bottom line is the numbers can't be ignored. Always follow the AAP's guidelines to safe sleep and pass on unsafe sleep products.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that this product is also unsafe. And at that price, WOOF! I think it's unfortunate the way they market this product while making it seem so aesthetically pleasing to have that 'matchy' portable bed for all your lifestyle needs. But, REMEMBER, it isn't a bed. It's intended to be somewhere your baby can rest but be awake. Please do not let your child sleep in a DockAtot.
What REALLY is the secret to a good nights sleep for your baby.
In a nutshell, giving your baby ownership of their sleep process!
Giving baby ownership can happen at any time really. Newborns all the way to school age. So, don't worry if you think you've 'missed the window' to have a better sleeping baby or child.
What does 'ownership' of sleep mean. It means baby/child is falling asleep independently and without some 'thing' or person to assist with the process. When we fall asleep with outside assistance, the micro-waking after a sleep cycle ends turns into a full, signaled night waking. For an adult, that may mean turning the TV back on or adjusting our bedding. For a child, that could look like: needing to be rocked, bounced, fed, or find their pacifier again. It's not their fault, it's just all they know so far. Newborns have almost zero capacity to stay awake. So, the act of eating on the bottle or breast or being held in someone's becomes learned. If you wish to have an independent sleeper, the secret is to break all of those learned associations.
Tips for fewer night wakings and an easier bedtime with your baby.
Proper schedule: Your baby needs a certain amount of sleep and intentional wake time throughout the day. I love this graphic for reference. In addition, I have this blog for you. It walks you through nap transitions the first year and beyond.
Environment: Once baby has their day/nights sorted, you can start their first and second naps of the day in their crib, in a dark room with white noise. Once baby is onto two naps a day, I recommend all naps in a cool, dark room in a crib.
Bedtime routine: Humans need time to transition. A bedtime routine allows our brains to slow down and make ready for sleep. Up until baby is 1 year old, a bedtime routine will include a feeding (before bath) and the process will take about 30 minutes. Or, 45 minutes if you have twins.
Soothing methods and consistency: If you want your baby to be an independent sleeper, I suggest to practice that expectation about 99% of the time. Only when baby is sick, do I recommend to completely jump ship from your usual routine.
I've created a 4-Step Guide to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night. It contains my BEST tips on how to achieve that independent sleep process with your baby. It's no surprise that I don't include any magic products to assist your baby in their falling asleep process. What I do stress is that it does take dedication and confidence on your part.
Reading through all of this may feel like baby sleep is overwhelming and unattainable. I get that. I've done all the research and applied what I know in real life, day after day..with my own children and my client's children. If you need help implementing independent sleep with our baby, I am here to help. I work with singletons and twins ages newborn to 7 years.
Book your free call to find out just how possible sleep for your family really is.
Lindsay Loring is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and author of this article. Lindsay lives in the Metro St. Louis, MO area and helps families all over North America achieve easier sleep routines. Lindsay is the owner of Tweet Dreamzz Sleep Consulting and is an expert in twin sleep.