It can be really confusing, especially as a first-time parent, to know what products and aids to get for your little one.
In this blog, I’ll be going through a variety of products and aids that I definitely recommend, maybe recommend, and definitely don’t recommend. There is no way I’ll be able to get through every specific product on the market as this blog would never end, but hopefully a general selection of products will help.
At this stage I will also recommend checking out the Lullaby Trust (www.lullabytrust.org.uk) as they have excellent safety advice on buying baby equipment and how to know whether it is reputable.
My ‘definitely recommend’ products:
1- Blackout blinds/ curtains: Light can affect melatonin (our sleep hormone) levels keeping us from falling asleep or making it much harder to go back go sleep if we wake in the night. And this is true for children and babies as well. Blackout blinds or curtains can therefore be really helpful to help block out as much light from outside as possible. These are especially helpful for daytime naps, brighter summer evenings and when it’s light outside at 5am. Be aware that even with blackout blinds/curtains, light can still creep in around the edges so try and also block this out as well- this can be done with cardboard or tinfoil! Portable blackout blinds can be really helpful for nights away or holidays so you can still recreate your little ones’ sleep conditions wherever they are and still get a good nights sleep. On the same topic, a SnoozeShade for the buggy can help for when your little one needs a nap while you’re on the go. This helps protect against UV rays and has a blackout lining to help darken the buggy.
2- Night light- Seems a bit counter intuitive after the last recommendation! But if you have a pitch black room but still need to go in to feed or change your little one, it can be nearly impossible! It can also be helpful for older children so they can see just enough to be able to safely go to the toilet if they need it in the night. The important thing to remember when buying a night light is to try and go for one that it red or amber in colour. These colours affect melatonin levels the least (compared to the normal white or blue lights) so will therefore disrupt sleep the least.
3- A video monitor- The benefits of a video monitor are hopefully fairly self-explanatory. It enables you to keep a reassuring and a close eye on your little one during their naps and at night-time. For the first 6 months, all naps and night sleep should be in the same room as an adult but as your baby gets older and moves into their own room, a video monitor is really useful. I recommend you try and get one which has a room temperature gauge so you can ensure the room stays within the recommended 16-20°C.
4- A sleeping bag- I always recommend sleeping bags for babies and young children. They are safe (as they make sure baby can’t shuffle down under blankets) and are great for temperature regulation throughout the night. Many children who use a blanket kick them off in the night, wake up cold and then need help putting them back on again. Just make sure you’re using the right tog for the right season/temperature. Another reason I love them is that they can help keep your little one safer for longer in their cot. Lots of 2 year olds don’t want to go to sleep so try to climb out of their cots. Sleeping bags can make it a lot harder for them to be able to scale the side of their cot and fall out (please note, it’s still not impossible for them to be able to do this!!). But sleeping bags can hopefully help buy you a bit more time before having to move them into a big bed. And lastly, sleeping bags are a great sleep association. When your little one goes into their sleeping bag for every sleep, they soon learn to associate it with sleepy time- it’s a perfect sleep cue!
The ‘maybe’ product:
1- White noise machine- White noise machines can be really helpful for those more alert babies or if you live in a noisier area. It mimics the soothing noises they heard in the womb and help to block out unwanted noises. If you do want to use one, get one that stays on all night so the sleep conditions are exactly the same if/when they wake in the night. These are by no means necessary and won’t cure any sleep challenges you’re facing but can still be really useful for some.
The ‘definitely don’t recommend’ products:
1- Sleep pods/ positioners- The Lullaby Trust very clearly don’t recommend any form of sleep pods, nests or positioners. Instead they advise a firm, flat mattress with a waterproof cover.
2- Cot bumpers, pillows or duvets (under the age of 1)- This is another recommendation from the Lullaby Trust due to the risk to a baby’s safety.
3- Mobiles/ light shows- Now, I’m not saying no to buying one of these at all as some of these are really nice… but just not at sleep times. We want out babies to go to sleep so having a mobile playing or a light show running can just encourage them to keep their eyes open to watch it. These can be a great idea for sensory play or wind-down time before bed, but they are by no means necessary at times they’re supposed to be trying to sleep.
And there you have it! In reality, the products you actually ‘need’ are pretty simple. Even the ones on the first list are by no means essential for your child to be able to go to sleep!
I hope this blog has helped to reassure and guide you who are confused by the plethora of products around at the moment.
For more information on how I can help your little ones’ sleep, feel free to book a free chat with me (DM me "Free call") and we can talk about putting a full plan together for you.