Baby Sleep Essentials

Getting baby to sleep through the night can feel like an overwhelmingly unclear task, but with some essential tools it does not have to be a constant struggle. When beginning your “sleep journey” it is important to research your options in order to make the best choice for your baby and for yourself.

Along with most everything, there are pros and cons to all sleep aids. Here are just a few options to consider when embarking on the sleep journey with your baby.


For most babies a sleep swaddle is an absolute must have. According to Harvard Health, swaddles essentially mimic the feeling of being in the womb. This provides  comfort and warmth to the baby. It additionally can help minimize or even eliminate the startle or “moro” reflex. This reflex as defined by the AAPis a startle response where the baby arches the back, and throws back the head, arms and legs. This is a natural reflex, but when provoked during sleep can result in a restless baby. Swaddling is a great tool to help prevent this as it is triggered by lack of support.

Pros: Swaddles can create a soothing environment that can help a baby calm down and stay asleep. Swaddling can help fight the moro reflex and has been noted to increase the  total hours slept. 

Cons: Because of the restriction of swaddles, if not used correctly they can increase the risk of hip problems. And if fabric used to swaddle becomes loose it can increase the risk of suffocation in the baby. 

embé swaddles design combat these risks by still allowing hip and leg motion which is outlined as safe swaddling by the AAP. It is when a fabric swaddle is so tightly wrapped that the risk arises. Additionally, with embe swaddles, the baby will not have any possibility of loosening the fabric as it is safely and securely fastened  (it's not just fabric wrapped around and tucked in), and with our legs in or legs out option, babies hips will be taken care of regardless of its unique needs.



White Noise

White noise is essentially any noise that is used to mask other noises in the surrounding environment. These sounds can vary from rainfall, to ocean waves. Studies have found that white noises can help babies fall asleep especially at nap time when they may not be naturally inclined to sleep, and to help babies sleep longer. This could be due to the fact that it will mask other noises, as well as create an association between the selected noise and sleep.

Pros: White noise can cover household noises made while baby is sleeping. This in turn can help baby sleep longer. Additionally, once sleep is associated with the white noise selected, the baby may be better able to routinely fall asleep as the sound will signal “it's time for rest.”

Cons: White noise can exceed the noise limit for babies. The AAP has found that most noise machines can exceed the recommended noise level for babies. Additionally, babies may become totally reliant on white noises in order to seep, and some babies do not respond positively to white noise at all.

When choosing sleep aid tactics, if a white noise machine seems like a good choice for you it is important to make sure the noise machine is not too close to the baby. The APP recommends the baby be at least 7 feet away from the noise machine. On a more logistical side, if white noise is used it is important to plan on bringing the noise machine everywhere (vacation, grandma's house etc) as baby may very easily become reliant on it.

Blackout Curtains

Blackout or light blocking curtains serve the purpose of mimicking night at any time of the day, as well as keeping out light from street lights or cars passing by. Having total darkness has been linked to helping baby settle down faster, fall asleep, and stay asleep. Additionally, black out or light blocking curtains can help regulate the temperature of your baby's room by not letting excess sunlight in. 

Pros: Darker rooms have been linked to babies sleeping deeper and longer. This is likely due to higher levels of melatonin being released in complete darkness. They can help calm babies down and make the falling to sleep process more comfortable. Additionally they help at nap time, when generally the outside world is not yet dark.

Cons: Much like noise machines, black out curtains can create a dependency in your baby where without total or almost total darkness they may not be able to sleep or may not sleep as well. Additionally some studies have found behavioral issues linked to black out curtains as the baby cannot be naturally woken up by daylight.  

If blackout or light blocking curtains seem to be a good fit for you make sure to use them with the knowledge that you likely won't be able to stop using them any time soon. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but rather something to be aware of!

Baby Monitor

A baby monitor is not necessarily a tool for baby to sleep better, but rather a tool for the parents to rest easy (Equally important!). There are many different styles of baby monitors, the most basic acting essentially like a walkie talkie. One unit goes near the baby's crib, the other unit stays with the parent. When baby cries, the parent will hear! As with most things, baby monitors have evolved over the years and there are now monitors that include video recording connected to an app, so even if baby is staying with grandparents or a babysitter, the parents can monitor how the night is going on their smartphone. Additionally, with many monitors, hours slept can be tracked. This can be helpful if a sleep routine is being implemented to be able to analyze what is working well and what may need some tweaking!

Pros: Baby monitors can give ease of mind to many parents, new and old. They can help track sleep patterns, and raise awareness of babies needs throughout the night.

Cons: And according to Babysleepsite, studies have suggested that baby monitors can increase “helicopter parenting” techniques. This obviously can be controlled but it is important to note. Along the same line, if any form of “crying it out” is being used to sleep train, monitors can make it much harder, as parents are made hyper aware of every movement, whimper, cry and fuss. 

If a baby monitor is going to be used (and most parents can attest they do help with nerves), it is important to note the possibility of over involvement and intensifying anxiety surrounding your baby's sleep. This is not to discourage the use of monitors as they can be a very helpful tool! 

Bonus tools/topics

Room temperature: Healthline suggest that babies should sleep in a room set between 68° and 72°F (20° to 22.2°C).  By keeping the room at a comfortable temperature, safe sleep is much more likely to be achieved.

Safe sleep: Regardless of tools utilized, the most important factor of babies sleep routines is practicing safe sleep. Safe sleep could be talked about for hours, but a quick way to summarize and remember the steps are the ABCs.




Baby should be sleeping alone, in a crib, and always placed on their back. Regardless of sleep strategies chosen, safe sleep practices should always be followed!

This is just a scratch on the surface of tools to be used for babies' sleep! Much like everything surrounding your unique baby, sleep tools should be personalized to fit your baby's wants and needs. Creating consistency and routine is key when handling sleep, and as it's something that will directly impact you as a parent, it is definitely worth the research! 

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November 16, 2021 — Janeve Helmbold

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