During the last few months of pregnancy, many women experience nesting big time! Getting the baby’s nursery ready for is usually the first item on mom’s to-do list as they approach the birth of a new baby. As I near the birth of my second child, I think back on all of the preparation I’d done and realized what helped me the most in that first stage of newborn life. Thinking back, most of the contraptions, swings, rockers, toys etc. we built were pointless! Believe it or not, newborns are fairly simple and have very basic needs in the first few months of life – they basically just eat, sleep and poop on repeat! Given that my second child isn’t my first rodeo, I feel better prepared to focus on the most important items on my nesting checklist. One of the most important items on my checklist was preparing to help foster healthy sleeping habits and create the ideal sleeping environment for a newborn. This is a great guideline for preparing for healthy sleep for your baby from the get-go, be it your first child or fourth! Here are some tried and true items that we found to be super helpful in fostering sleep in those first few months:
Little did I know about the power of white noise during the first 3 months with my first child. I love the Marpac Classic Dohm white noise machine. It has two different sound level settings and you can also rotate the cover to make the sound more or less muffled. This was a lifesaver for us and did wonders for soothing my son when he was fussy around naps or bedtime. Why is white noise so important in the first 3 months of a newborn’s life? Interestingly enough, the womb is an incredibly noisy place! This familiar loud sound mimics that of the sounds in the womb and can really make your baby relaxed when it is time for bed.
Investing in blackout shades and blinds is the number one recommendation we offer when working with clients on preparing the ideal sleep space for their newborns, infants and toddlers. The greatest benefit of blackout blinds is that they help block out sunlight and other light at night which aids in the production of melatonin in the body in children and adults alike. Melatonin is a hormone that helps influence and regulate our sleep cycles. As a result, your newborn will be able to relax easily and practice falling asleep on their own with the help of the natural secretion of melatonin in their body.
Very much like white noise, swaddling your newborn is great for soothing and calming a fussy baby in preparation for sleep. The womb is a very enclosed, tight space and babies are used to being tightly secured or “swaddled” for a whole 9 months. We avoided loose blanket swaddles at night as we were worried about the blanket coming undone while we were sleeping (you should never use blankets in your newborns crib for safe sleeping!). We really loved the Halo Sleep Sack Swaddle as it worked initially as a secure swaddle with velcro and then functionally as a sleep sack later on during the transition to a regular sleep sack.
Merlin Magic Suit
I began using the Merlin Magic Sleep Suit when my son was about 3.5 months old. You can start using the suit earlier as long as your little one meets the minimum weight requirement. This suit was a game changer for us. Around the 8-week mark, we stopped swaddling him (which is the age appropriate time to stop swaddling) as he began to fight the swaddle. This suit was a fantastic transition out of the swaddle and it offered the secureness and comfortability of the swaddle. It is also great for stifling a lingering Morro reflex. It took a couple of nights of getting used to, but we were remarkably impressed with how well our son was sleeping through the night with the Magic Sleep Suit. It really was magic (along with hiring a sleep consultant.)
At about 5.5 months, our son started to attempt rolling in the sleep sack. At the point, we thought it would be good idea to get started on a transition to the sleep sack. There are oodles of different sleep sacks on the market but we found that the Halo Sleep Sack worked best for us and was the most functional. It is reasonably priced and comes in all different kinds of materials, such as fleece and cotton, that are appropriate for the cold winter and hot summer months. Again, this transition took a couple of nights as our son was having a lot of fun discovering all of the new flexibility he had in his new sleep sack. What I especially loved about the sleep sack is that even at 20 months today, he is still in a sleep sack! This was particularly helpful when he discovered he could climb out of the crib but is unable to do so in the sleep sack (win!). Ultimately, it gave us greater piece of mind at night knowing he couldn’t escape his crib, or worse, get hurt trying to climb out!
Overall, there are going to be 21 things to focus on in preparation for a new baby. For me, one of the most important areas to focus on is ensuring that we are well-equipped to help foster healthy sleeping habits for our little one. After all, sleep is critical to optimal function of the brain and is when all of the important cognitive development for your baby takes place. There are so many items on the market that claim to be “sleep miracles” in helping get your baby to sleep however, our recommendations above are tried and true in aiding your child with healthy sleep in those first few months. Happy Sleeping!