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Sleep Aids for Babies and Toddlers to Sleep Better

Posted on November 23 2021

Try these methods, sleeping arrangements and aids to help your little one - and you - sleep better.

 

Need to try and catch up on your sleep debt brought on by parenthood? Here are some sleep aids, methods, and sleeping arrangements that may help. Of course, your mileage may vary, so safely do what works for your family.

 

Sleep Aids

 

Swaddles

For a touch of organic cotton, Parisian glam, try this swaddle from Atelier Choux.

 

Swaddling your baby calms her natural startle reflex, anxiety and any colic, avoids her scratching her face and keeps her sleeping on her back. Try these organic cotton options from Atelier Choux, Mushie and Doomoo Dream or a premium bamboo one from Raph&Remy ($32.90 to $80).

 

Sleep Sacks

Keep your baby snug in his Tommee Tippee Grobag, no folding necessary - just zip him in.

 

Once your baby has learned how to roll over, usually around four months old, try these sleep sacks from Love to Dream and Tommee Tippee ($49.90 to $69.90). Just put your baby within the sack and then zip her up. Love to Dream’s sleeved sacks allow your baby to access her hands to suck on, or to rub her cheeks to self-soothe without scratching. The snug fit of the sleep sacks calm her startle reflex, eliminate excess loose fabric while supporting her hips and legs naturally. Change her diaper by unzipping the bottom zipper to access her legs and bottom.

 

Night Light

Older children can bring Gina the Giraffe Rechargeable Torch with them when they go to the toilet in the middle of the night.

 

Make middle of the night diaper changes, toilet trips and feedings as quick and painless as possible, so everyone can get back to sleep. A bedside night light helps you see well enough in the dark without fully flooding the room with light. Great options include the Zazu Rechargeable Torch with seven different colours, the Moulin Roty Elephant and the Skip Hop Moonlight & Melodies ($49.90 to $69.90). Toddlers and preschoolers can also bring this along to the toilet with them, though they’re still likely to wake you up.

 

Soothers

Pacifiers, such as this one from Bibs, can help your little one soothe herself and fall asleep, and reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

 

These pacifiers from Avent, Pigeon, Nuk and Bibs ($7.40 to $19.90) can distract your little one, help her when she’s teething or to fall asleep. It can also reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS when used during sleep or naps. Keep these within reach with the Kushies Silibeads Pacifier Clip ($20.90), and store it in the Mushie Silicone Pacifier Holder Case ($19.90).

 

When your baby is a year old, she can also snuggle with a toy at bedtime. Examples include the Jellycat Merry Mouse Bedtime, the Blossom Bea Beige Bunny Comforter or the Little Rambler Fox Soother ($31.90 to $52.90).

 

Toys

A projector with melodies may help your baby fall asleep on her own - the timer automatically shuts off after 30 minutes.

 

End the day with a calming bedtime routine that may include reading bedtime stories. One option is Manhattan Toy's Soft Books ($29.90 to $39.90) for babies, with colourful illustrations, crinkly sounds, and engaging textures. For toddlers, try the Moulin Roty Story Telling Torchlight Les Papoum ($19.90), telling stories with disks projected on the wall. Others such as the V-Tech Sleepy Lullabies Projector, and Zazu Ocean Projector With Melodies - Otto The Otter ($49.90 and $79.90 respectively) also project images, soothing sounds, and a timer, which may help babies fall asleep. Zazu Davy the Dog Sleeptrainer ($79.95) gives toddlers visual indicators of when to get up and stay in bed.

 

Other musical toys: Taf Toys Garden Mobile, Koala and Cot Play Centre, Zazu Koala, Jellycat Blossom Tulip Bunny Star Musical Pull, and Moulin Roty Musical Pullstring Elephant ($24.90 to $79.90)

 

Cribs

 

Convertible Cribs

Babies can use this Boori Natty crib from birth till they become toddlers.

 

Always put your baby on her back to sleep until she learns to flip herself. Keep her crib bare without pillows, quilts and toys, and away from hanging cords. Additionally, ensure there are no gaps between the sides of the crib and the mattress. For cribs that can be used from birth and beyond, try the Stokke Sleepi Mini which can be expanded to the Stokke Sleepi, or the Boori Natty Cot Bed ($499 to $1,499).

 

Great for newborns to two years old, the Bugaboo Stardust ($419) can be folded and unfolded in seconds, even with the mattress inside. Suitable for both playtime and naptime, you can place your newborn in and take her out without having to bend over.

The Crescent Womb provides the comfort of co-sleeping in a safe environment.

 

As an alternative to co-sleeping or bedsharing, strap the Crescent Womb ($99) to any standard-sized crib. It helps babies under six months self-soothe, supports tummy sleepers, and parents can skip swaddling their infants entirely.

 

Co-Sleepers

Use the Chicco Next2Me Cot to safely sleep beside your baby in the earlier months - it also converts to conventional and floor beds.

 

The versatile Chicco Next2Me Forever Co-Sleeping Cot ($690) can be used as a co-sleeping bed up to four years old, a conventional bed and floor bed. With the safety locking barrier system, the side carrier can only be lowered when fully attached to the parents’ bed. It also has 11 different height levels and foldable feet, and can be tilted to reduce regurgitation and ease nasal congestion. Similarly, the Micuna Sweet Bear Cot ($899) also can be tilted to about 7º to 10º. Designed and made in Spain with sustainable beech wood, this cot also features a safety lock with blocking device, and is suitable from birth.

 

Ways to Get your Baby and Toddler to Sleep

For the Ferber and Cry it Out methods, you’ll finish the bedtime routine by putting your little one in his crib, saying goodnight and leaving.

 

With these methods, and those that follow, create a bedtime routine that might last about 30 to 45 minutes. This could involve a bath, feed, lullabies, reading a book and/or a baby massage.

 

Cry It Out And Ferber Method

These methods seem to be the most effective, but can be brutal on your nerves if you hate hearing your baby cry. Once you’ve established that your baby is getting sleepy, start the bedtime routine. Next, put your baby in her crib, say goodnight to her, close the door and leave. Your baby will most likely protest and cry. Leave her to exhaust herself with crying. Use noise-cancelling headphones or get your more resolute partner to handle this part while you indulge in some self-care outside. Over the next few days, her cries should lessen and she should be able to learn how to sleep on her own.

 

The Ferber method is similar, but you do check in on her every three, then five, then 10 minutes until she falls asleep. Gradually, you’ll want to increase the duration of the check-ins to 20 minutes or more.

 

Gentle Sleep Training

Gentler methods include the chair method, sitting next to your baby’s crib and waiting for her to fall asleep. Avoid picking her up and using your phone as the light can be too stimulating. Next, move the chair further away each night until you reach the door. By this time, your baby should be able to fall asleep on her own.

 

Another way is to attempt to put your little one down to bed drowsy but awake. Let her settle herself when she cries for a few minutes. If she’s still crying, go in and pick her up and soothe her. When she’s calm, put her back down in the bassinet. This method can take quite a long time and lots of patience as you’ll have to repeat the process until she falls asleep.

 

Safe Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping can help everyone get more sleep, since mums can easily breastfeed their babies back to sleep. This also maintains your milk supply, and night nursing may also act as a natural contraceptive. Create a safe area for your baby, following the above sleep guidelines. Ensure that the sleep surface is firm, bedding tight fitting to the mattress, and the mattress fitting the headboard and footboard tightly. Don’t put loose pillows or soft blankets near the baby’s face. Premature or low birth-weight babies seem to be at greater risk when bedsharing, so it’s best to use a separate surface to co-sleep. Avoid co-sleeping or bedsharing if you’re a smoker, or smoked during pregnancy, are overly tired, or have ingested alcohol or sedatives.

 

Possums Sleep Program

Contrary to most of what the current sleep advice entails, the Possums Sleep Program aims to promote cued care for optimal neurodevelopment. Parents learn about infant sleep patterns, and how to regulate sleep via the sleep-wake homeostat and the circadian clock. This approach focuses on the carer leading an active life during the day outside the home, giving your baby rich sensory nourishment to enhance her neurological development.

 

Sleep Training Programs to Try

At your wits’ end and need a guided programme to try? Here are some resources:

Gentle Sleep Solutions Facebook Group

Little Ones

Possums Online

Taking Cara Babies

 

Relevant Reads: Safe and Stylish Cribs, Prevent SIDS, Quality Sleep for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Credits:  huanshi, Kaiting, XinCi, leomom0916, everythingella2020, Baby&Co, Eileen Bunyi, Helena Lopes

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