9 Baby Sleep Products You Really Don’t NeedAug 09, 2022
As a first-time parent, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the thousands of baby products on the market. We are all looking for that magic product that will help our baby sleep through the night early on! From creating baby registries to receiving suggestions (sometimes unwanted) from other moms around you about what products worked for them, it can all become a lot!
The good news, though? You don’t need nearly as much for your baby as you think! In fact, a lot of the trendy and expensive baby products on the market are unnecessary, and some can even lead to sleep associations that you may end up needing to wean from as your little one grows.
If you have already purchased and enjoy using any of these products, that’s great! This is my opinion as a baby sleep consultant, but it certainly isn’t wrong to use them if they work well for you! However, keep in mind that I have separated this list into products you don’t really need and products that I don’t recommend for sleep due to safety concerns.
Unnecessary Baby Sleep Products
You’ve probably heard of this trendy baby sleep product, but if you haven’t, it is essentially a bassinet that soothes your baby by rocking back and forth. While this product might work to help some babies sleep better, the truth is that once your baby has outgrown The SNOO, they will need to be weaned from the rocking. Not only that, it’s a pretty heft price point for the functionality to only be recommended for 4-6 months, and then it’s just an extremely expensive bassinet.
If this is a product you want and it ends up working for you, again, that’s ok! It’s not a “bad” product. However, my recommendation is to practice independent sleep skills with your baby instead of relying on this product.
Check out this blog post to learn how you can practice putting your baby down awake and building independent sleep skills with your newborn!
2. Night light:
Did you know that babies aren’t afraid of the dark? In fact, putting a nightlight in your baby’s room can be disruptive to sleep and their circadian rhythm ! Darkness promotes sleep, as well as helps us get back to sleep when we wake naturally after a sleep cycle. Kids don’t developmentally learn to be afraid of the dark until they are around at least 2 years old, so avoid using a nightlight for as long as possible!
A nightlight can also become a prop if it’s NEEDED to sleep. If your child falls asleep with the nightlight on but it’s off when they wake in the night, they can become alarmed and need the light turned back on. It can also cast shadows on the walls, validating fears as your little one grows.
Since you will need a light to feed and change your baby in the night, I recommend using only a dim light so you can see what you’re doing. The goal is for both you and your baby to easily get right back to sleep! You can find great inexpensive, portable feeding lights like this one which I highly recommend.
3. Overly expensive crib, bassinet, or mattress:
Buying a product with the highest price tag doesn’t always guarantee that it’s going to be the best on the market. For example, expensive crib mattresses that are marketed as “breathable” aren’t necessary or safer!
A good rule of thumb to follow here is to just make sure that the products you choose for your baby are up to date with safety standards. As a side note, the safest option for a crib mattress is to buy brand new - even an inexpensive one - and avoid using a second-hand mattress because the firmness of the mattress is the most important aspect, and one that has been used will be softer.
4. Crib mobile:
Your baby’s sleep space should be kept boring so they are not stimulated when they wake between sleep cycles. Hanging a mobile above their crib can actually be something distracting and stimulating and keep your baby from being able to fall back to sleep between sleep cycles!
If you do want a mobile in your baby’s nursery, I recommend placing it above the changing table instead (somewhere that you want your baby distracted)!
5. Light-up toys:
Until your baby is at least 12 months old, no stuffed animals should be in the crib with them while they’re sleeping. But even near your baby’s sleep space, stuffed animals and toys that light up (i.e. stars on their ceiling) can be stimulating and distract from sleep. These extras are better suited for kids over 4 or 5 years old (if they request them and you think they would help them feel more comfortable in their room!)
Check out this blog for what I recommend when creating an ideal sleep environment for your baby, to help them get their best sleep possible.
Unsafe Baby Sleep Products
1. Weighted sleep sacks:
Since loose blankets in your baby’s crib are considered unsafe until your little one is at least 12 months old, swaddles and sleep sacks are great alternatives. Some sleep sacks on the market are weighted and advertised as helping your baby feel as if they are being held.
However, weighted sleep sacks are a safety concern. The AAP included weighted sleepwear under their list of items considered unsafe in their 2022 safety update.  The additional weight could pose a risk to your baby and keep them from being able to move freely. And truthfully, they’re really just not necessary for your baby to become a sound sleeper!
The AAP recommends using a firm, flat surface for baby sleep, free from any bumpers . I’m commonly asked whether bumpers can be used if the infant is getting their arms or legs stuck between the crib slats or hitting their head on the bars, or whether bumpers are ok if they are the mesh style, or other non-traditional variations. The AAP makes their recommendations very clear: that bumpers are a safety concern (risk of strangulation or suffocation, and risk of injury when toddlers use them to climb out of the crib) and should not be used in any capacity. The risk of injury from hitting their head (highly unlikely) or getting their limb stuck between the slats (shouldn’t happen with recently manufactured cribs) is far less dangerous than the risk that comes with using bumpers, which is serious injury or death.
3. The DockATot:
If the DockATot is a baby product that is on your wish-list as a new mom, that’s okay! This product though, is only for supervised lounging, never for sleep. The AAP recommends not letting your baby fall asleep in loungers of any kind ; The DockATot would fall into this category! The DockATot is a wonderful product when used correctly according to manufacturer recommendations, which means supervised awake time with your little one.
4. Owlet Smart Sock:
This product is currently recalled due to the FDA not approving production , but the Owlet Smart Sock is a product used to monitor your baby’s oxygen levels and heart rate while they sleep. This may seem like a helpful resource, but it can cause additional stress to parents and keep you awake watching the monitor all night. In addition, it’s important to understand why a product is recalled and whether it performs as it is meant to. In this case, the product was deemed unreliable in the data it was providing to parents, so I would not recommend using it to inform medical decisions.
If you find yourself also struggling with your little one’s sleep or you’re looking to prep for sleep before your little one arrives, please know that you are not alone and that I am here to help. Download one of my comprehensive sleep guides for step-by-step tools!
Need help transforming your child's sleep? Check out my sleep offerings for children 0-3 years old!
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