As I mentioned in an earlier post… it’s possible to bring baby home with nothing but diapers and a can-do attitude. Before I had Hazle, I obsessively googled things like “minimalist baby gear” and told myself we wouldn’t be bursting at the seams with baby crap. However, when she didn’t sleep and cried for the better part of the day, I changed my tune. While I admit that my Amazon obsession during those first few months
was completely out of control bordered on over the top, there are a few things that I would definitely have on hand should we do the baby thing again.
In this mulit-part series, I’m starting with sleep gear because SLEEP IS LIFE.
Where To Sleep
So there are a lot of options when it comes to baby sleep. Doctors recommend that baby sleeps flat on her back in the parents’ room at the beginning. We followed this advice (at first) and used a moses basket with a rocking stand next to our bed.
We were lucky enough to have one passed down to us and my initial thought was that all moses baskets must be relatively the same. However, when choosing a basket keep the size in mind– I always wished ours was a tiny bit bigger because Hazel used to wake herself up kicking the sides when she was about 2 months old.
Not all baskets have a rocking stand either. This can be a huge help when you’re teaching baby to fall asleep in his/her bed. This can also be a lifesaver when you just need another hour of sleep and your baby starts to stir.
The only other variation is the actual shape of the basket— handles/no handles, hood/no hood. To me, handles are a must- I often carried the basket from room to room with Hazel asleep inside in the early days. We didn’t have a hood and that was never a problem so I wouldn’t say that’s a deal breaker, though if you live somewhere warm and sunny and plan to bring baby outside to sleep sometimes it would be helpful.
As I mentioned- ours was second hand and no longer being sold– but here are a few that are similar to what we had:
If your baby gets a cold, has colic, or hates sleeping flat for whatever reason, your moses basket may be more like a torture chamber than a relaxing place to sleep. Hazel had colic and a constant cold for the first few months which made sleeping flat on her back very uncomfortable.
Lots of people gave us advice like, “put books under one end of the basket” or “put a folded towel under her mattress” to give her only a slight incline but still conform with the idea that babies should sleep flat on their backs. Those people, while well meaning, had no idea what kind of fresh hell we were going through. The 0.00000001 percent incline that those options offered might help a sniffly baby who is a bit uncomfortable, but did very little to calm Hazel.
So we bought what we lovingly referred to as “the monkey bed” aka the Rock ‘n Play.
Visit just about any forum on colic, and you’ll find glowing recommendations for the Rock ‘n Play- which is what you’re about to get here.
Fisher Price- you hold my heart forever. I LOVE THE ROCK N’ PLAY.
It was the only place we could get Hazel to sleep for more than 45 minutes and the fact that you could rock it easily (and vigorously) meant I could sometimes get her to sleep for an extra hour or so in the morning.
I didn’t get one with a motor that rocks itself because they were hella expensive in to buy in the UK, but if you can get your hands on a self-rocking one, DO IT. There was a good 2 month period in which I was rocking Hazel while half asleep from 3-5am. During that time I silently cursed myself for not buying one that rocked automatically. Those extra hours were definitely worth the additional £100-£200 it would have cost to buy.
To swaddle or not to swaddle. That is a seriously, heavily debated question. We chose to swaddle in the early months and later we abandoned it because Hazel spent most of her time trying to break free. If you do plan to swaddle, think about a zip up swaddle because it’s easy, they can’t break out and… it’s easy.
We used Love to Dream and it was great because unlike the traditional swaddle the baby has his hands up, which is a more natural sleeping position. It also allows baby to suck on his hands while still keeping him from hitting himself in the face and waking up.
Love to Dream make several sizes in several different weight fabrics so you can adjust based on the season, but my favorite feature is the fact that they can unzip from the bottom so diaper changing isn’t a huge ordeal and you don’t have to wrangle little arms back into the swaddle in the middle of the night.
Oh yeah, and your baby looks like an impossibly adorable angel (or mental patient in a straight jacket, depending on the night).
Many, many people will tell you not to do lots of “stuff” to get your baby to sleep. I wish you good luck in that endeavor and I hope it’s as simple as ‘putting your baby down drowsy but awake’ or giving them a ‘fourth trimester’. However, I adamantly believe that every baby goes through several stages as they learn to sleep and some are far less ready than others.
For that reason, sleep aids exist and can be very useful. They definitely aren’t necessary for every baby, but they are good to have in your arsenal at 2 am when you are starting to get desperate.
There are a million white noise machines/devices/stuffed animals that you can buy, but I recommend just going with old faithful, an MP3 and some speakers. We play constant white noise on a loop in Hazel’s bedroom and it not only drowns out the noises we make eating dinner and celebrating the fact that she’s asleep, but it comforts her and helps her get back to sleep in the middle of the night. We play it from an old iPad on flight mode and it’s as simple as that.
Using a pacifier is a heavily contested way to get your baby to sleep which I am not even going to broach, but if you do find that you need one there are a few things to consider.
Firstly you want to think about the shape of the teat- make sure you get one that is appropriate for the age of your baby. Secondly, get one that glows in the dark because they are impossible to find at night.
If you do decide to use one, remember that each make is a little bit different and if your baby doesn’t want to take it or it constantly falls out of their mouth, try a different brand. We found MAM to be the best for Hazel.