You’re a childless 8-hours-a-night singleton. Everyone you know with a child bemoans the fact that they never get any sleep. Their babies cry all night, or demand to sleep in the big bed, or get up at 2am for playtime. You think “Well, I’d never put up with that. Any baby of mine wouldn’t get away with disrupting my beauty sleep like that”. Then you meet a partner, try for a baby and find that you’re expecting. Your family-oriented friends warn you that it’ll never be the same again. “Say goodbye to your sleep”, they say, “…the baby will keep you up all night”; “you’ll age ten years in as many months” et cetera et cetera [read: blah blah blah]. You shrug them all off, insisting that you’re an 8-hour-a-night person. You can’t survive on less, you stress, adding “I love my sleep” —blissfully unaware that you’re going to have NO choice in the matter.
And now, a child or two down the line, you laugh in the face of your former, childless self, realising how ludicrous it was to assume that you’d put your foot down and your young baby would miraculously toe the line and let you sleep uninterrupted for as long as you wanted. Did this kid not get the memo?! HOWEVER, despite your mimi-me not buying into the 8pm-8am no-scream zone, there are things you can do to give them, and yourself, a fighting chance of some much-needed ZZZs, especially in those early months. Here are our Top 6 Baby Essentials for SLEEP. They helped us, and they may just help you too.
- Love to Dream Swaddle UP, from £26.99
Swaddling is a renowned method of helping your baby feel calm and safe, and the theory is that it gives newborns the same safe feeling of being inside the womb. You may also have noticed that your newborn has a reflex known as the Startle Reflex. While completely normal, it can be very annoying when their sudden startles wake them up from an otherwise undisturbed sleep. The Swaddle UP is an ‘arms up’ swaddle bag, meaning that babies can ‘self soothe’ (suck their fingers and thumb through the fabric) as their hands are up near their face, as opposed to across their chest as with traditional swaddling.
We were given a Swaddle UP as a gift when Odhrán was born, and having never seen one before, I was initially a tad alarmed at the thought of putting my baby into what looked like a straight jacket for dolls. Our only experience of how to put a baby to bed was at the hospital NICU ward, as Odhrán was taken to intensive care the day after he was born. There, the nurses always put the babies on their backs, with a blanket pulled up to the chest and tightly tucked into the sides of their cot, so we’d be replicating that at home too. Eventually though, we bit the bullet and tried him in the Swaddle UP, and it was amazing! We noticed a difference right away, and Odhrán seemed a lot more secure in his moses basket than before, even sleeping through the night several times.
Needless to say, we loved the newborn Swaddle UP we were given so much that we bought several more as Odhrán grew bigger, including their ‘transition’ bag for when he was old enough to start flipping over.
2. MyBaby SoundSpa On‐The‐Go Baby Soother Sleep Aid (white noise), £14.99
White noise! The sleep-saviour. We were lucky enough to be given a little white noise unit by HoMedics (the Soundspa Mini) as a gift when Odhrán was born (by the same generous and baby-savvy friend who gave us the Swaddle UP, incidentally!). Knowing nothing about white noise, or its effects on babies’ sleep, we thought we’d try it out and see what happened. Like the Swaddle UP, this little gadget turned out to be a godsend. It’s a simple and economical little device compared to a lot of the more Instagram-photo-worthy humming toys on the market (check out my review of the Whisbear for example; it didn’t come off too good, I’m afraid to say) but it’s just as good (if not better), and it’s all you really need.
The version we have has a simple press-and-hold on/off button, up/down volume buttons and 4 different types of white noise to choose from; ocean waves, rain, jungle night sounds and pure white noise. It runs on batteries, which last us weeks depending on how much we use it. If you’re wondering how white noise works; its primary function is reducing the difference between background sounds and any one individual sound that may disturb your sleep, like a door slamming or someone shouting. Creating a constant ambient sound masks activity from inside and outside your room. For a baby, this can create the illusion of a womb-like environment too. I checked the availability of the Homedics Soundspa Mini that we have and it’s not available in the UK, but they do have the MyBaby SoundSpa On‐The‐Go Baby Soother Sleep Aid over here, which looks like a very similar gadget at a similar price point, so I imagine it will do much the same job.
3. Rockit portable baby rocker, £34.19
A bit of a curve-ball here, as the Rockit isn’t technically a sleep aid, at least not for night time. It’s a portable rocking device designed to attach to your baby’s pram, buggy or stroller, that will rock your baby automatically while you’re busy with work, or with your hands full in a cafe, salon, bus stop or airport. We used it a few times on Odhrán’s pram, but then realised that we could attach it to the legs of his moses basket stand and have it rock him at night too. Bingo! We’d use that in conjunction with the white noise machine to get Odhrán to sleep in the evening, and again if he woke during the night and needed soothing. It can get very tiring rocking the crib yourself, so having this device to do it for us was such a relief, and it meant we could leave the bedroom while the Rockit would carry on doing the hard work. We’d still be using it now except that Odhrán is now in a big sturdy cot bed that can’t be rocked. CUE, the Zed by Rockit…..
4. Rockit ZED vibration sleep soother, £29.95
Ok, so now I’m definitely going off-piste because we haven’t actually tried Zed, the vibration sleep soother made by the same people that make the Rockit portable rocker, but boy do we want to! Going by how much we loved the Rockit rocker, and disappointed that we can no longer use it now our toddler is in his sturdy, unrockable cot bed, the Zed might be just what we need! I came across it on the Rockit website while researching the details for number 3 on this list, and it looks awesome. The Zed is based on the theory that babies and toddlers sleep well in cars, so to reproduce a car-like experience in the safety of the home, Zed uses special motors that generates low-frequency rumbles that feel like the car suspension and the revving of the engine. As the gentle vibrations pass through the mattress, they also generate soothing sounds. WE.WANT.ONE!
5. Philips Avent Blue Flower Room Thermometer, £19
The Avent Blue Flower Room Thermometer was another godsend, especially when we first brought Odhrán home and we were constantly fretting about how warm the room was for him at night. All the advice on safe baby sleeping environments says you should maintain the room temperature at around 16-20 degrees, and because Odhrán was born at the end of April, we went into the summer months worrying ourselves silly, wondering if it was too hot for him. It can be difficult as new parents to gauge whether the room is too hot or cold, so this cute little flower-shaped thermometer is great for keeping an eye on the ambient temperature. It’s a hard-working little thing too, as not only can it be used for the room, but it floats in the bath too, making it perfect to check the water before you pop your little one in for a splash.
What we loved is that it even has a little reminder written on the face of the digital display; 37 degrees for the bath and 18 for the room; an awesome little detail for sleep-deprived, overwhelmed new parents who can’t remember which end of the baby the nappy goes, let alone what the temperature should be! As an added side-note, Odhrán loves playing with it too; it has a rubbery skin which he loves to mouth and chew. Probably not advisable to let your teething toddler knaw at it for any length of time, but good to know that it can take quite a bit of biting, as tested by Odhrán.
6. VTech Colour Video Baby Monitor VM3252, £99.99
For us, a baby monitor was an essential piece of our “Sleeping Baby” kit, as it enables you (when you’re ready) to put your baby down for naps and bedtime in another room while you get on with whatever you need to without disturbing them. We were given the VTech VM3252 monitor as a gift from my parents, and overall we are pretty happy with it. The image is decent and it has a zoom and pan function which is useful, and for night time it has an infrared display which means you can still see your baby even if it’s really dark. It has volume buttons which you can bring up loud enough to hear your baby breathing if the room is quiet enough, and it also has the temperature of the baby’s room displayed on the parent unit which is an added bonus. The parent unit can be used on battery, but not for that long before the low battery warning starts bleeping so we generally use it on charge, while the camera (baby unit) must always be plugged in.
Our only gripe is that the camera is not particularly flexible. It comes on a little plastic base and the camera is on a ball joint so that you can tilt it up, down, left or right. The trouble is, unless you have a chest of drawers or a unit of some kind near your baby’s crib which is the perfect height for the camera to get a good view of your baby, you have to get creative with boxes and gaffer tape in order to position the camera adequately. Ours is currently gaffer-taped to the corner of the crib, pointing down onto Odhrán. We find ourselves wishing it was on a long bendy arm with a clip, because then you would have much more options for where to put it. There are some solutions for this which I’ll detail below, but note that we haven’t actually tried those yet.
The FlexxiCam Universal Baby Camera Holder is a mount that can be attached to (apparently) any baby monitor and fastened using its clamps to the crib or a nearby piece of furniture or fixing to give you more height and flexibility. It looks really useful for cameras like the VTech VM3252. Alternatively, the Lollipop Baby Camera is an extremely cute monitor with a long flexible tail that can be wrapped around the ledge or bar of the crib, or a door handle or nearby piece of furniture. We don’t own one, but I saw that Dad Blogger Growing With Dad has one in his top 5 new parent must-haves, and it looks brilliant! If you’ve got £145 in your budget to spend on a monitor, the Lollipop definitely deserves a look.
So there you have it! 6 Sleep Saviours that have really helped us (and Odhrán) get some well-deserved sleep. Let us know your tried-and-tested suggestions in the comments, and feel free to get in touch if you have a suggestion for our next blog!
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