With so many products out there promising a better night's sleep for your child, it's no wonder why parents are spending big bucks and getting no results. Marketing is clever, but what products do you actually need to improve your child's sleep, and which products are a total farce?
White noise has a calming effect for babies up to 12 months as it mimics the womb. Levels of up to 90 dB have been recorded in utero - that's as loud as a vacuum cleaner!
It's also very effective in blocking out sudden noises that may startle your child awake, especially during nap times (cue: postie delivering your online shopping, setting off all the dogs in the street!).
And what's better if you can control the volume from an app on your phone!
Double points for it having a dimmable light for your wind-down routine. When your babes are older and they want a night-light, there's a function for different colours for them to choose from.
PLUS: in-built toddler clock - set the alarm to a lullaby and coloured light to encourage them to stay in their room until an appropriate time in the morning.
A Dark Sleep Space
A dark sleep space for children after 3 weeks old is important as they start to produce their own melatonin. Melatonin is the 'sleepy hormone' which assists with the onset of sleep, but not staying asleep. Darkness will also help remove distraction if your child wakes in between sleep cycles during the day, and will help prevent early morning rising and late bedtimes (especially during the warmer months).
So how dark do we need it? The measure I like to use with my families is dark enough that you can't read a children's book in there.
If you're not into installing permament blockout blinds, and maybe the foil/cardboard option looks a bit messy for you, you can get static window film that you cut to size for your windows to give it a clean finish, without damaging the windows or surrounding structures (perfect for those who rent!).
For babies over 7 months you can safely introduce a comforter or 'lovey' - in line with SIDS Safe Sleeping Guidelines. This adds another layer to your positive sleep association and can become a familiar security object, coming in handy when your babe is in the care of others.
Something inexpensive is great in case you need to replace it or it needs a wash.
How to get started with it? Sleep with it down your shirt for a night or so, and introduce during nappy changes, feeds, playtime and wind-down. We can't force a bond with it straight away, but over time the friendly face will become their special bedtime buddy.
My favourite bedtime story
It could be nostalgia, but I remember this book being read to me when I was a child. It's calming rhythm and easy-to-follow story make it a wind-down winner. Perfect to incorporate into your bedtime routine, or gift to another mumma for night-time cuddles.
Things that are a waste of money
Red lights which 'promote melatonin production' - lights can be stimulating for children of a young age, and there's not enough research to prove that red light promotes this hormone surge. What we DO know is that darkness does!
Lullabies can be stimulating as the constant change in pitch will entertain and distract your child instead of calming their senses into a deep slumber. Opt for your low, grumbly, constant white noise instead.
Essential oils and aromatherapy are a growing body of research, however, as science-based evidence advocates, sleep consultants in Australia can't endorse these products.
Melatonin gummies - even though these are over-the-counter products, supplementation use should only be guided by your healthcare professional for any child under 6 years old, and are often the last resort.
Behavioural therapies such as sleep training will address the root cause of sleep disturbances from a holistic viewpoint.
Still struggling with sleep? Book a 20min Call here to get started.
*Dreamy Babies is affiliated with the above products.