In the years that I have been a sleep consultant, I am asked all the time about recommendations for sleep items. I do have a list of favorites that I will post later, but even more strongly I have a list of items that I think: “I wish you didn’t waste your money on that”. So I decided to break my silence (yeah right! I’m never silent) and give you a list of my 6 sleep “skip it” items for babies under one (and why).
1. Sound machines with an automatic shut off.
Sound machines are great for baby to use during sleep in order to drown out distracting sounds and to create a calming effect. You want your (white noise only) sound machines to play constantly through your baby’s sleep so that it doesn’t create any associations between the machine turn-off and baby to wake. Automatic shut off sound machines create an environmental switch to your baby’s brain that something is now different than it once was. Soon you will notice a correlation between your baby waking and the noise machine having been switched off. This is not the kind of additional sleep arousal you will want to add to your already restless nights. I recommend against items like CD players, as the CDs have an ending (and white noise only please), no Cloud b sleep sheep (sorry little sheep) or any other item that cannot be played continuously during baby’s entire sleep.
2. Crib Mobiles.
I know they are pretty and cute and “pull” the nursery together. I know, I know…BUT did you know that when you add any enhancement to a crib outside what was provided by the manufacturer, the crib is no longer being used as intended? That’s food for thought. Also, a soon as baby can push up, pull up, sit up, you will have to remove it immediately as it becomes a risk for choking or strangulation if baby gets ahold of it. Last, while its sweet, I only suggest using it while baby is awake and playing and not intending to go to sleep. It is counter-productive to sleep. Most mobiles have loud, playful music that chimes along with the twirling of the shapes, which is more of a stimulating toy than a calming, comforting sleep aide. I suggest you skip the short lived, limited purposed mobile for something more useful.
3. Crib attached toys.
Like the Baby Einstein Sea Dream Soother. I know these are cute and fun, and I’m sure they are a great toy outside of the nursery, but similar to above, nothing should attach to the crib after it’s put together. Putting that aside, these items touts themselves as a classical music toy that will soothe your baby to sleep, but if you really look at it, it’s a big bright and clunky and interacts to the motion of your baby. That is stimulating, not calming and and in my opinion that doesn’t belong attached to a crib. If you are using it for the sleep function…where the sounds gradually soften every 10 minutes, it goes against a few positive sleep habits that I recommend against, like white noise only (as white noise isn’t habit forming) and for that white noise to run continuously, not have an automatic shut off. If you use these type of toys as a fun option for baby to play with ANYWHERE else than the bedroom, then keep it on there, but I say no way as a bed side companion.
4. Projection devices.
I don’t recommend night lights for babies under 2 years of age. Once you’re ready for a night light, I suggest that they are dim and using a red, non-LED color bulb. Researchers have found that blue light stimulates the brain, leaving you to feel more awake and it disrupts your circadian rhythm. Projection devices like the Fisher Price Calming Seas Projection Soother or the Summer Infant Slumber Buddies do not offer an ideal sleeping environment. If you have used this, you might already have seen that the effects of the blue emitting light from the projection is wreaking havoc on your baby’s sleep rhythm. The entertainment may wear them out, but it will be short lived and you’ll be back to restart the process over and over. Not to mention that staring at light before bed for any of us is a bad habit to have. Begin positive sleep habits by having the room as dark as you can (your baby is not afraid of the dark) for all sleep. Having a dark room also assists with the production of melatonin which is a hormone in your body that regulates your sleep cycles and plays an important role in how you body accepts and sustains sleep. Projection devices as a sleeping tool/enhancer is an oxymoron. Sure, you can use it as a toy, but I’d keep it out of the nursery or at least “off” at least an hour before any sleep.
5. Crib bedding sets.
Oh yes. I made this mistake! You have a theme, you decorate the nursery and you just have to have the cute $100+ dollar crib bedding set that compliments your vision. I get it. These sets can be so expensive. I had a very kind friend that talked me down from a $300 beautiful three piece set! Thank goodness. The truth is, your baby cannot use bumpers, pillows or a blanket until they are at least one year of age. The crib or bassinet ultimately looks nothing like you see in the magazines. It’s plain and a bit boring (this means you did it right). Instead, I’d invest in some super cute and comfortable fitted sheets that your baby can actually use starting from the very day you take her home.
And last, but not least is:
6. Baby Loungers (like the Dock a Tot).
For children under one I think there’s a better way you can spend your money. Its marketed as a co-sleeping aid, a diaper changing station and helps with tummy time, but since co-sleeping is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and for the price you can change your child’s diaper…basically anywhere else….it’s just not worth it to me. Also, I have found that many parents are putting this is the baby’s crib, which is not recommended, even on DockAtot’s own website under the “support” link they state “can I use my dock in a crib, bassinet or play yard?” Answer: “NO.” (https://support.dockatot.com/article/121-can-i-use-a-dock-in-a-crib). This is one of the first aids I tell someone pull if I know someone is using it, and it’s one of the last things I’d register for.