All too often, I see products marketed as “the one” product your little one needs to sleep. If you just get this one special product, all of your sleep troubles will be solved.
And that could not be more misleading!
Yes, use a sound machine so your babe won’t wake up to every sound in your house. Yes, black out your little one’s room so the sunlight doesn’t wake him up at 5 am. Those are “must-haves” in my book!
But there is not one magical product that will simply make your child sleep. If there was, baby and child sleep would be a no-brainer, my job wouldn’t exist, and parents everywhere would feel well-rested!
I want to start by reminding you that I’m a real person, a parent who has been sleep deprived, and I get it.
For the first 5ish months of Olivia’s life, she slept in a Rock ‘n Play beside our bed. We LOVED it!
But guess what was recalled around two years ago when we were pregnant with Avery? Because it was being used all too often as a sleep space, although it was not advertised as such and wasn’t actually safe??
You guessed it…the Rock ‘n Play.
We had heard raving reviews about it when we were pregnant, were told it doubled as a bassinet, and were given one as a hand-me-down. I didn’t research it at all, I just went with others’ reviews about it, and quite honestly, it was great!
And to be even more honest, it took us a few months to actually get rid of our Rock ‘n Play once it was recalled. We were pregnant again and were tempted by the “survivorship bias”- we used it and were fine, I’m sure it’ll be fine with our next baby.
We thankfully snapped out of that and kicked it to the curb, because it is NOT worth it to risk a baby’s safety for a longer nap or a few extra hours of sleep!
All that to say, I’m a real human being and am not sharing this blog post as a judgement, but as helpful information for you to know.
So here is a list of popular baby products that I don’t recommend:
I know, I’m starting with a big one!
DockATots are advertised as a lounging option for babies to lay on their back, enjoy tummy time, get a diaper change, etc. They are supposed to mimic a womb-like environment for babies as the sides help them feel cuddled.
I have no problems with DockATots being used in the way that they’re advertised, however they are all too often used for sleep! Whether that’s using the DockATot in the crib, or placing it in bed with parents, it’s not a safe sleep option.
In fact, right on the DockATot website it says:
“‘Bare is best’ means that there should be no blankets, pillows or other objects in the baby’s resting space. This includes keeping DockATot docks out of the crib, bassinet or play yard and keeping loose blankets out of the dock.” (And this comes from an American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation!)
Crib bumpers are not considered safe for sleep, but that is more widely known or discussed. And the DockATot is unsafe for a similar reason, yet the sides are much closer to a baby’s face.
Not to mention it’s pricey baby gear! If you’re looking for a great space for your little one to hang out, try something like a Boppy Lounger or just a good old blanket on the floor!
If this is new to you and you’re currently using the DockATot for sleep, the great thing about babies is they’re super flexible! I know it seems daunting, but simply take it out of your baby’s crib. It may take a few days to adjust, but help your little one by patting his belly, shushing, jiggling the mattress a bit, picking him up, etc., and he can adjust!
*Gasp.* It’s on there, too! The SNOO is a smart bassinet that automatically responds to a fussing baby with motion and sound. Magical, right? The website also suggests that the SNOO “naturally sleep trains.”
Well, while the SNOO may save you from some sleepless nights early on, your baby eventually has to transition out! And for many babies, this proves to be quite the challenge as they are used to constant motion when falling asleep and slipping back into another sleep cycle (talk about sleep props!), and now all of a sudden they have to sleep without that.
Doesn’t sound like “natural sleep training” to me, it sounds like a temporary solution ___
There is a “wean mode” on the SNOO and directions as to how you can help wean your child off needing the swaddle and motion, however I find that because the motion and swaddle are working so well for families, they hesitate to start using that mode. So if you are set on using the SNOO, make sure you take advantage of wean mode in time to transition out of it!
I also just think it’s super pricey for a piece of baby furniture that is very temporary. Instead, I suggest using something like the Halo bassinet. (I’m also a huge fan of borrowing bassinets from family members or friends, as they are used for such a short amount of time!)
Are you currently using the SNOO and worried your baby will never sleep without it? Guess what?! Your baby can absolutely learn to sleep without it!
I’ve worked with families in your shoes and their little ones are now rock star sleepers. You can start “wean mode” now, you can simply turn off the sound and motion take out the swaddle, and use it like a standard bassinet, or you can go ahead and transition your little one to a pack ‘n play or crib!
Do you have the SNOO and love it? That’s okay, just make sure you turn on wean mode when it’s time.
Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit
I know the transition out of the swaddle is scary. I’ve been there, twice! I know many people love the Merlin Sleepsuit as a transitional sleep sack because it helps prevent the startle reflex yet is a safe option for rollers.
A huge piece of learning to self-soothe is MOVEMENT! It’s important for babies to learn to move around, use their arms and legs, get comfortable, and then fall sleep.
And the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit doesn’t give babies enough opportunity to move. I always loved seeing where my girls ended up in their cribs after they went to bed, especially in those first few months after the swaddle transition. They would do full 180s in their cribs, or scoot up to a side, or a find a corner that they loved.
That’s all a part of self-soothing!
No to mention the fact that you’ll have to transition your baby out of the Merlin at some point, so I’m a fan of just making the swaddle to sleep sack transition, and that’s that!
“But if we don’t use the Merlin he’ll knock the pacifier out of his mouth!” That’s why I work with families to teach their babies to sleep without a pacifier!
“But what if he rolls onto his stomach, he hates it!” If your baby is able to roll front to back and back to front on his own, he’s safe to sleep on his belly if he chooses. And at first, he probably won’t love it, but he’ll either roll back over and find another comfy spot, or he’ll learn to love sleeping on his belly (both of my girls are belly sleepers!).
If you’re currently using the Merlin Sleepsuit, I suggest switching to a different sleep sack (or no sleep sack) and helping your child learn independent sleep skills! Check out some of my favorite sleep sacks!
Nested Bean Sleep Sacks
Don’t get me wrong, I love sleep sacks! Big fan, and my toddler and baby both still wear one. Just not this kind.
Someone gifted us a Nest Bean sleep sack at our first baby shower and they’re cute. And sound like a brilliant idea!
The “magic” behind these sleep sacks is the small weighted shape on your little one’s chest; it’s supposed to make your baby feel as though your hand is still on her chest so you can all sleep soundly.
Well, when Olivia’s sleep was all over the place, we had nothing to lose. We stuck that Nested Bean on Olivia and waited to see the magic happen, and guess what…no change. She didn’t know how to sleep and a little weighted animal on her chest wasn’t going to change that.
When I work with families, the goal is independent sleep – for your child to be confident sleeping on her own, without needing your hand on her chest throughout the night.
(Not to mention if your baby chooses to be a belly sleeper, those beans wouldn’t be comfortable to sleep on! So small hack: if you already have a Nested Bean sleep sack, rather than getting rid of it, simply empty the beans from the front shape so your baby can sleep comfortably on both her back or belly, and you don’t need to buy another sleep sack!)
[Don’t even get me started with the fancy soundtracks that are supposed to solve all your sleep challenges!]
Remember, my intention here is NOT to make you feel bad or guilty for having one of the above products. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them! My goal is to educate you about safe sleep and to teach you how to best support your little one’s sleep skills so you can approach bedtime and naps with confidence!
Don’t know how to do that? Reach out and we can chat about how I can help!