The following contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission when you click the links provided and make purchases. We try our best to suggest quality products in an effort to help you make the best decision for yourself and your family. Obviously, these tools do not have to be purchased to ensure a good night's sleep, however, they are merely suggestions that will get you thinking in the right direction and certainly may make the process easier.
LOVEY: Find a lovey, whether it is a small stuffed animal, a very small lovey blanket, or even a ripped up old t-shirt of yours that your child can become attached to and thus associate with sleeping. You can also put your child’s crib sheet into your t-shirt drawer so it gets your smell on it. The lovey should be something that is portable and easy to replace if needed. It is good to have several so they can be switched out if needed if one is soiled. This lovey should stay in the child’s room where they sleep at all times. It should not be used as a play object outside of the bedroom. Most importantly the lovey should NOT be put into the crib (or bassinet) with the child. Rather, it is used so that the child connects and associates the lovey with the potential of sleep during the pre-soothing process before the child is placed into the crib or bassinet.
PACIFIERS: Pacifiers are important tools to use because babies have a strong suck to sleep association from birth. However, we don't want the paci to hinder breastfeeding or feeding in general and create confusion with the different nipples. The recommendation for the introduction of a paci is 4 weeks after birth. It is good to have several around right after birth so the baby doesn't use Mom’s breast as a pacifier. Ideally, hold off on introducing the paci until breastfeeding is well established (typically takes about 2-4 weeks) but know that it is OK to use earlier than 4 weeks if needed, especially if it's noticed that the baby is suckling on Mom and not feeding well when at the breast.
When introducing the paci, do it in a lollipop sucking motion that way it triggers the suck reflex. If the baby refuses it initially, try it again at a later date and/or a different brand. Just because the paci is refused once doesn't mean it will always be refused. Also, another way to get the baby to take the paci if she is refusing it and using Mom as a pacifier is to let the baby nurse for a few seconds, release the suction on the breast nipple, and then replace the breast with the paci. Don't allow the baby to suck on the paci before feeds because it uses up too much energy. But if it's offered after the feeding and it's noticed that the baby is still wanting to suckle, then that is a good time to use the paci or before sleep times so the baby doesn't become dependent on the breast vs the paci.
BUMPERS: NO BUMPERS, TOYS, BLANKETS, ETC SHOULD BE PLACED IN OR UNDER THE CRIB OR BASSINET!
SOUND MACHINE: Having a sound machine will help drown out extraneous noises and because it mimics the womb. I like this one, although expensive because it is nice for travel and can become louder and softer with a simple movement. Once the baby is ‘sleep trained’ (capable of falling asleep independently), the baby will no longer need a sound machine to get to sleep or stay asleep, but it is useful for now. Only use it for sleep time or if the baby is fussy and having a hard time settling down. Once 2-4 weeks have passed of sleeping through the night, you can start to eliminate this crutch as well. Continue to use it later in case you want to drown out any noises, eg, you have company over, there is a thunderstorm, or for travel. You can also try to train the baby so there is no interest in the sound machine, and not use it at all for sleep times, but it is a good idea to have one so that in case it's needed it's available. Or use a box fan to drown out extraneous noises.
TIMER: These timers can be set:
Once the child wakes so the next sleep interval can be determined. If cues are noticed earlier, the timer can help determine what those intervals are and similarly see how long your child was able to stay awake.
Once the child falls asleep so it can be known how long the nap length was.
Get the timer below or use your phone/watch timer or an app. This will be useful when trying to keep up with wake times, sleep times, and feed times. This has 4 separate timers on it and helps you remember which side you breastfed on last.
ALL TRACKING APP: This app track sleep, diapers, and feeds.
NIGHTLIGHT: It is good to have a basic night light in the room. There is an example below but any will do. You want it to be bright enough so your child can see where they are when they go to sleep as well as when waking up in the middle of the night. Ensure that it is not too bring that it hinders your child from falling asleep. Avoid blue nightlights.
BLACKOUT CURTAINS: Make sure to use blackout curtains in the room for naps AND bedtime. The room should be pitch black, even during the day for a nap, with the exception of a night light. The goal is that the child should be able to ‘see’ where they are when going to sleep as well as upon waking. Once the child is sleeping through the night (around 4 months of age) for a period of 1-2 months, allow some light to enter the room, but not a lot. Below is a link for blackout film which can be used temporarily in your child’s room to block out any light that comes in on the sides of current curtains and darken it more so. Or simply use black garbage bags to block out the light. If using garbage bags, ensure they cannot fall on the child in the crib. Turn off any other lights, especially lights from electronic devices, and keep them off during cuddling time and bedtime routine with the exception of a lamp that can be on during book time. Below are links for temporary shades so you don't have to drill holes into the walls. But it is advisable to get permanent ones eventually. Since you have time before the baby is born, try to set that up now. The other option with the lighting in the room is to allow some light into the room so the baby gets used to falling asleep independently with a little bit of light coming through. Obviously, you don't want the light to hit directly in the face.
VIDEO MONITOR: It is a good idea to have a video monitor so that you can see what is happening in the baby’s room during the day when napping as well as once the baby is down for the night before you go to sleep. I like the ones below but anyone will do. If you think the baby may be in one room for a nap and another room for bedtime, then it's a good idea to get a monitor that expands to allow multiple cameras. That way, you are not carrying around multiple monitors for a couple of cameras in different rooms.
BOTTLES: These bottles listed below are great for a baby with gas and exclusively breastfed babies that need some supplementation. Although pricey, these bottles claim to help babies who are gassy and claim that babies do as well with this bottle as they do with breastfeeding. Get baby used to bottles after 4 weeks have passed, sooner if needed by offering at least one feed/day. Once breastfeeding has been established, we want the baby to start taking bottles so that Dad, a nanny, or other family members can feed the baby. It can be introduced earlier than 4 weeks if the baby has gotten the hang of breastfeeding. But don't wait too long past 4 weeks to introduce bottles (either with formula or breast milk) so an aversion to bottles doesn't develop. This doesn't necessarily mean the baby will need to always take bottles, but you want the baby to remain flexible. Make sure to get several nipple sizes so they are there when needed.
SOOTHING: Look into Harvey Karp and the 5S’s (swaddling, shushing, sucking, side-lying, and swinging) to help calm a baby when fussy.
INFANT TOOTHBRUSH: Use this, without toothpaste, to brush your child’s gums after the feeding before bed. It is a good habit to get into now and it will help wake your child up if they are trying to fall asleep at the bottle/breast after a feed before bedtime.
NAIL CLIPPERS: Nail Frida clippers offer a NICK-FREE SAFE DESIGN: Patented safety spy hole allows you to see exactly what you're clipping, eliminating the risk of cutting a child's sensitive skin.
RED LIGHT BULB: Replace the lamp light bulb with this bulb where the baby is changed and fed at night so they are not stimulated awake. Babies can not see the red light waves but the caregivers will be able to see well enough to feed, change and care for the baby without causing wakefulness for the child.
BREAST MILK SAVER: This helps save milk so it doesn't drip out or get stuck in your bra after nursing.
SWADDLE: The startle reflex can disrupt sleep. A swaddle is strongly recommended until the baby is rolling. Make sure the room is not too warm, especially when using a swaddle. Only place the baby in a onesie when using a sleepsuit/swaddle if the tendency is to wake sweaty from a nap or bedtime.
Once rolling (as early as 2 and as late as 6 months), the swaddle needs to be removed and a transitional swaddle can be used for comfort. This swaddle helps babies who still have a startle reflex and like the comfort of a swaddle but are rolling. It allows babies access to their hands and fingers through the swaddle but provides fabric to stifle the startle reflex.
Weighted Sleep Sack: This gently weighted Zen Sack mimics the pressure your baby feels when held by you. Helping babies to self soothe & sleep through the night when not in your arms. Parents report longer sleep in 1-3 nights.
TRAVEL CRIB: Keep your baby's sleep environment as consistent as possible while on the go with a travel crib.