Best Baby Sleeping Positions

best baby sleeping positionsBabies sleep up to eighteen hours per day, and they’ll zonk out just about anywhere. This is especially true in the first few months, when they generally divide their time between eating, sleeping, and filling the diaper.

I’m always amazed at how babies and toddlers can sleep in what seems like incredibly awkward positions, for hours and hours, but wake up refreshed and ready to go.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the common baby sleep positions, including ones that are safest, help address a problem, or are just downright adorable.

Crib Sleeping Positions

baby crib sleeping positions

Sleeping in the crib, sort of (Credit: Pinterest)

The crib is the safest place to put your baby to sleep, according to the safe sleep guidelines put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Two quick notes: if you buy a new crib, be sure you assemble it correctly and tighten all of the screws.

Note, if you obtain a used or second-hand crib, be certain that it’s not one of the drop-side models. Those have been discontinued due to safety issues. Speaking of which, you shouldn’t use crib bumpers in your crib, no matter how cute they are. No matter how much you paid for them.

Back Sleeping

Back to Sleep is a national baby sleep safety campaign in the U.S. designed to encourage parents to put their infants on their backs to sleep. This is considered the safest sleeping position for an infant, because it reduces the risk of SIDS by helping prevent newborns from smothering.

Incidentally, the AAP also recommends a firm, fitted mattress for your crib. It shouldn’t be super-soft like a pillow-top mattress. See our article on the 3 best by crib mattresses for some good examples.

Sleeping on Belly

baby belly sleeping positions

TVs. They don’t make ’em like they used to.

A few decades ago, most babies were put on their stomachs to sleep. The thinking was that it would help in case they spit up, and babies were quite comfortable sleeping in that position. Unfortunately, belly sleeping is no longer recommended because it increases the risk of suffocation.

By the time your little one is 12 months old, however, they’ll be quite capable of rolling around in the crib, and they may often end up on their bellies. But at this point they’re generally strong enough to move if they have trouble breathing, so it’s less worrisome.

Side Sleeping

Some parents are in favor of putting the baby to sleep on his side (or they have a baby that seems to prefer it). At the newborn stage, this is less desirable because it’s easy for the baby to end up on her stomach. As I said, though, an older baby (6-12 months) might grow to enjoy this sleeping position, and there’s not much you can do about it. Don’t worry, but just be sure there are no pillows, stuffed animals or loose items in the crib.

Positions for Reflux or Colic

If your infant has reflux or colic — in other words, tends to spit up a lot — you should still put him on his back to sleep. However, to put gravity on your side, you can elevate the head of the crib using a different height setting. Or, in a pinch, just put a phone book between the mattress and the crib board. The elevation should be slight (less than 10 degrees).

Baby Sleep Positioners

cute baby sleeping positions

Sleeping in dad’s stinky slipper. Now that’s a tired baby! (Pinterest)

Your baby’s sleep position is important, and you should encourage safe sleep by always putting your baby on his or her back in the crib. However, it’s also important not to buy into the hype. I’m talking about the so-called baby sleep positioners that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS by keeping your baby in the middle of the crib and on their back.

These things are not recommended by pediatricians, and they actually pose a hazard. The second your baby wiggles out of them, they’re just another suffocation hazard in the crib. If you’re not convinced, read my article on the myth of baby sleep positioners.

Co-sleeping Positions

Co-sleeping with your baby has a few different forms — there’s simple room-sharing, in which your baby sleeps in the same room with you in a crib or bassinet, and there’s bed sharing, where you bring the baby to bed with you. The AAP advises against bed sharing with an infant, emphasizing that it can be particularly hazardous when:

  • One or both parents are exhausted, on medication, or drinking alcohol
  • There are loose blankets and pillows in the bed
  • Other children are sharing the bed
co-sleeping positions

Credit: via Pinterest

There are people that co-sleep with their babies. In some cultures, especially in second- and third-world countries, it’s quite common. Even in the U.S. there are many parents who bed share. Most of them take steps to do it “safely” by having a defined space for the baby, removing loose blankets and pillows, etc.

Aside from the late-night nursing convenience, I can’t see what the benefits are. But I won’t tell you what to do; I don’t need a bunch of people leaving comments about how co-sleeping is perfectly safe and they raised 9 children doing it without issue.

Instead, I will point out that the baby sleep positions outlined above also apply to co-sleeping situations. Back sleeping is best!

Co-Sleeping Bassinet

If you want to sleep close to your baby,  but don’t want to bed share, consider one of the co-sleeping bassinets like the Arm’s Reach that fit right up next to your bed, keeping your baby close to you but in a safe little place of his own.

 Final Word on Baby Sleeping Positions

The ironic thing about baby sleeping positions is that newborns will sleep just about anywhere, any way, and there’s really one perfect option: on his back in a crib with a fitted mattress and nothing else in it. As they get older, you become less worried about SIDS and also less able to control how they sleep.

Inevitably, when I sneak in to check on my boys, one of them is buried in his blankets like a homeless person, and the other is sleeping in a half-crawl position, crammed up against the side of the crib, both of them virtual poster children for the “don’ts” of baby sleep safety. So trust your own instincts and do what you think is best.

10 Baby Safe Sleep Tips

Baby safe sleep tipsEstablishing healthy sleep habits for your baby is hard enough, but there are safety concerns that are paramount. The American Academy of Pediatrics publishes extensive guidelines for safe baby sleep, and if you have two hours of free time I encourage you to go read them.

Since you probably don’t have two minutes of free time, let me boil it down for you in these brief safe sleep tips. See our article on Back to Sleep safety guidelines if you want the detailed recommendations.

Crib Sleeping

Many of the recommendations for safe baby sleep center around how and when you put your baby into the crib.

1. Put your baby in the crib to sleep.

A newborn will sleep just about anywhere, but that doesn’t mean that you should allow this to happen regularly. Get in the habit of putting your little on in the crib or bassinet for naps and for nighttime sleep. It’s the safest place and it’s a good habit to establish early because it helps with baby sleep training later on.

The Back to Sleep campaign is a public baby sleep safety program encouraging parents to put babies on their backs (as opposed to their bellies) to sleep. Make sure you do that, too.

2. Only the baby goes in the crib to sleep.

In other words, no loose blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, or other things that pose a suffocation hazard. You should, of course, dress your baby for sleep and use a swaddle or sleep sack to keep him safe and comfortable. That’s it. This also means no crib bumpers! I know they’re cute and seem like they would protect your baby’s soft little body from the unforgiving wooden bars of the crib, but they’re not worth it.

3. Provide a firm sleep surface.

You probably think that your baby should only sleep floating on soft, fluffy clouds, like the angel that she is. But a firm sleep surface is recommended: a crib mattress that’s fitted for the crib that you have. It’s safe because your baby’s little face can’t sink into it. Luckily, most cribs and mattresses have a standard size (52″ by 27″). Most importantly, there shouldn’t be any gaps between the mattress and the crib.

4. Keep the crib safe

Your baby’s crib should be one that’s safety-certified by the JPMA or other entities. This doesn’t mean it has to be new, but if you purchase a second-hand crib make sure it’s not one of the drop-side models that aren’t made anymore because of safety concerns. Also, position your crib in the nursery to avoid these hazards:

  • Curtains, mini blind cords, electrical cords, or other strangulation hazards. These need to be out of arm’s reach for your baby.
  • Heavy, sharp, or otherwise dangerous objects that could fall or be pulled into the crib. A big lamp on a cord is a classic example.
  • Directly in the airflow of a heater or air conditioner. Just make sure they’re not pointing directly into the crib where your baby will be sleeping.

Safe Things To Do

Safe baby sleep guidelines from the AAP also cover some best practices for feeding and soothing your baby at night.

5. Breast feed your infant

There are plenty of good reasons to breast feed your baby, enough that I don’t need to dwell on them here. What you probably didn’t know is that research shows that breastfed babies have a reduced risk of SIDS. This likely has to do with the attentiveness of a mother that breastfeeds, but whatever the reason, any nursing you can do will benefit your little one.

6. Offer a pacifier

Here’s something I always recommend for baby sleep training, and it happens to have a safety benefit as well: offering a pacifier at bedtime. Researchers aren’t sure why, but pacifier use has a slightly protective effect against SIDS. It’s also great for soothing your baby back to sleep after a wake-up. See our reviews of the best baby pacifiers for some good options.

7. Sleep in the same room as your baby

Perhaps surprisingly, the AAP recommends sleeping in the same room as your baby. This allows parents to keep a closer eye on the little one overnight, and it’s also convenient during those first few months when the little one wakes up every 2-4 hours.

Bad Habits to Avoid

Now that we’ve covered the do’s, it serves to cover some of the things you should not do. These are things to avoid.

8. Smoking near the baby

It’s not good for you or the little one. It’s not even good to allow people who smoke around the baby — the chemicals from tobacco smoke linger in hair, clothes, cars, you name it. When these things come near your baby, your little one’s perfect, just-formed lungs take them in. There’s no better motivation for someone to quit smoking than a sweet little baby coming into their life.

9. Co-sleeping after alcohol, drug, or sleep aid use

I’ve already spoken out against co-sleeping, but some people are going to do it. That’s their prerogative, but one time it must absolutely be avoided is when one or both parents have used alcohol, drugs, or a sleep aid. These simply make adults less attentive and more likely to put the baby in danger. Avoid at all costs.

10. Sleep positioners, heart rate monitors, and other hyped-up products.

There are people that will try to sell you just about anything, and they’ll use your baby against you to do it. You don’t need, and you really should not, use baby sleep wedge or positioner. Once your baby wiggles out of it, it’s just a suffocation hazard.

They do make home heart rate monitors, but unless advised to do so by you pediatrician, don’t use one. They aren’t for casual use and might lead you to a false sense of security. Also, the consumer products are a joke compared to the high-tech devices we were required to lease (at outrageous prices) to monitor our preemie twins at home.

Bottom line, don’t buy the hype! Use common sense, be attentive, and your baby will be just fine.

Baby Sleep Disorders

baby sleep disordersBaby sleep problems are some of the most common complaints among parents of newborns. How can you tell if your baby has the expected sleep habits, or some kind of sleep disorder? As many as 10% of parents report a baby sleep disorder in the first 12 months, and we know this is under-reported because  a lot of pediatricians don’t ask about sleep problems. But it’s important to diagnose and sleep baby sleep disorders, because research shows that they’re connected to other health problems. Just look at the link between sleep apnea, cardiovascular disorders, and diabetes.

Types of Baby Sleep Disorders

To determine if your baby might have a sleep disorder, it’s important to know what baby sleep problems are normal, versus what things might cause concern. If your newborn is waking up every 2-3 hours to eat, for example, that’s normal. Welcome to parenthood! However, these persistent issues might be considered sleep disorders:

Sleep Disorder Description
Sleep onset latency Baby has trouble going to sleep or falling asleep. This is a very common cause of baby sleep problems, and may not indicate a true disorder. Be sure to check the usual reasons a baby won’t sleep.
Sleep maintenance Baby has trouble staying asleep and wakes up often. This, too, is a frequent source of parent frustration. See our article 7 reasons the baby woke up last night to learn about the common causes.
Sleep duration Baby’s total sleep in a 24-hour period is not enough. Newborns should be getting 17-18 hours of sleep per day; at 6 months they should get about 16 hours, and at 12 months around 14 hours.
Naps or daytime sleep Baby takes naps that are too long (less common) or too short (more common). One problem I hear about often is a newborn that sleeps in a series of short catnaps throughout the day. Learn more about baby nap problems.
Sleep location Baby refuses to sleep in the crib. This is a learned behavior in most cases, and one that can be addressed by parent intervention. See our article on getting baby to sleep in the crib.
Restlessness/vocalization Baby tosses and turns, fusses, or cries during normal sleep. Some amount of this is normal, but consistent restlessness may indicate that your baby isn’t getting the sleep he or she needs.
Snoring This one is obvious! Occasional snoring could be due to congestion, but consistent snoring may be a sign of a more serious condition such as sleep apnea.
Nightmares Baby cries during sleep or wakes up crying, but is easily comforted. It’s hard to say definitively that the cause was a nightmare, but sometimes there are no more explanations.
Night Terrors A sort of “waking nightmare” in which the baby seems frightened. It’s hard to tell if a screaming baby is truly “awake” or not, so this may be easier to diagnose in slightly older children (toddlers and beyond).

Handling Baby Sleep Disorders

If you think that your baby might have a sleep disorder, the first thing you should do is talk to your pediatrician. As many as half of pediatricians in a recent survey didn’t routinely ask parents about their baby’s sleep habits, so don’t be afraid to bring it up on your own! The more specific information you can provide, the better. Use statements like these:

  • He’s taking ___ naps per day, and each is about ___ hours long.
  • We put her to bed at ___ and she usually wakes up ___ times in the middle of the night.
  • Our bedtime routine is ___, after which it usually takes him ___ minutes to fall asleep.
  • Her longest nap or sleep stretch is during the ___, and it lasts for ___ hours.

When you provide this information, it can help your pediatrician determine if your baby’s sleep habits are on par, or if more intervention is required.

We went through this sort of thing ourselves when our older boy was about 9 months old. He’d been sleeping through the night for a couple of months, and then started waking up hungry at 4 a.m. We’d feed him a bottle of warm milk, and he’d go back to sleep until 8 or 9 a.m. It was all great except for that middle-of-the-night feeding. When we brought this up to our pediatrician, he told us that we were reinforcing our boy’s instinct to wake up.

By feeding him each time, we taught his body that it was supposed to wake up and eat at 4 a.m. Luckily, our pediatrician gave us a one week program to break ourselves of the bad habits, and it worked! That’s why you should talk to your pediatrician.

Consequences of Baby Sleep Disorders

There are good reasons to get help diagnosing and addressing your baby’s sleep disorders. Research has shown that baby sleep problems increase the likelihood of:

  • Your baby’s cognitive development and memory
  • Future emotional and behavior problems in the toddler years and beyond
  • Maternal depression and anxiety. Obviously!
  • Stress and marriage problems

Even without advice from your pediatrician, there’s lots that you can do to help address baby sleep problems. Start at our baby sleep training page and go from there!

Baby Sleeping Schedule

baby sleeping scheduleWhen should babies be sleeping? When should they be awake? Figuring out your infant’s sleep schedule sometimes isn’t easy. There are two schools of thought on this topic. One is that your baby won’t have a sleep schedule, that you should let him or her sleep and eat and do anything without structure at all (a sort of “attachment parenting” view). The other school of thought, the one I support, is that encouraging a somewhat regular sleep schedule for babies helps them sleep longer and more consistently.

Newborn Sleep Schedule (0-3 months)

If your baby is still a newborn — less than 3 months old — there’s good and bad news. The good news is that you have more control over your little one’s sleeping and eating schedule. The bad news is that they generally wake up to eat every 3-4 hours (2-3 hours for breastfed babies). The best thing you can do is try to match your baby’s sleep schedule to hours of the clock.

When our twins came home, we were on 3-hour cycles, so they ate at 3, 6, 9, and 12. Gradually they switched to 4-hour cycles (4, 8, 12). At this newborn stage, babies don’t spend a lot of time awake… generally they get a diaper change, eat, burp, and then go back to sleep. It’ll be hard on your own sleep patterns, but you must try to sleep when they sleep.

infant sleeping scheduleInfant Sleep Schedule (3-6 months)

For many babies, the period between three and six months is one of transition. They begin spending more time awake, growing and eating more than seems humanly possible. They might begin to sleep for longer stretches as well. If you’re really lucky, they could be sleeping through the night at this age as my daughter did. If not, you might see no real change or get only the occasional longer sleep stretch.

One challenge here is that your baby’s still on a completely liquid diet of breast milk and/or formula. Simply put, it’s hard to sleep for a super long time without any solid food. All you can do is fill that belly and hope for the best. If you’re supplementing with formula, you can make sure that your baby gets enough by offering a couple more ounces at a time until he’s full. See our article on nighttime feeding for sleep.

Don’t be frustrated if your baby still keeps a newborn schedule (eating and sleeping in 3-4 hour cycles) at this stage. At around 6 months your baby will turn a corner.

Baby Sleep Schedule After 6 Months

For many parents, there’s a significant change in baby sleep habits at around six months. This is often accompanied with your baby’s introduction to solid food. A belly filled with baby food and/or single-grain cereal tends to provide that “slow burn” that babies need to sleep for longer. It’s not a guarantee, but at around 6 months, you might start seeing these differences:

  • Your baby sleeps in longer stretches, 5-7 hours or more
  • Sleep duration gets longer at night
  • Fewer naps are necessary
Baby nap schedule

Flickr: mistermoss

Nap Schedule

At around this point, your baby should settle into a nap schedule that will persist over 3-6 months or longer. For my little ones, this was something like:

  • 8:00 a.m. wake up
  • 10:00 a.m. morning nap
  • 12:00 p.m. wake up, eat lunch
  • 3:00 p.m. afternoon nap
  • 5:30 p.m. wake up for dinner
  • 7:30 p.m. bedtime

Note how there are two daytime naps (morning and afternoon). Our daughter also had a phase where she took an evening nap (7:30 until 11:30), and then slept through the night. That wasn’t too bad, because we’d put her to bed and then go right to bed ourselves.

Eventually (after the age of 12 months), your little one will transition to taking one nap per day, usually in the afternoon.

Final Words

All babies are different. These rules, while they generally applied to my own children and others I know, may not apply to yours. The most important thing you can do is find a schedule that works for your baby, and try to stick to it as long as it keeps working.


Baby Sleep Secrets

baby sleep secretsFew things are more rewarding than teaching your baby to sleep through the night. Those lucky parents who bring a wonderful sleeper into the world simply can’t appreciate it. When your baby learns healthy sleep habits, it’s a win-win: a developmental milestone for him, and more blissful sleep for you. In this article we’ll cover some of the baby sleep secrets that we’ve uncovered in raising our three little ones.

1. For Baby Sleep Training, Timing is Everything

Timing is a critical aspect of baby sleep training. For example, the time to start your baby sleeping in the crib is the day you come home from the hospital. Yes, it seems too big, and yes, your precious little input might seem lonely or frightened or upset about being placed in the crib to sleep. But it’s natural and the safest place for him.

Importantly, for the first few months your baby should not (and likely will not) sleep more than 5 hours at a time. Most newborns eat, sleep, and poop in 2-4 hour cycles. Sometime between the age of three and six months, you’ll notice that your baby begins sleeping for occasional longer stretches. That’s when you can begin some baby sleep training techniques to encourage the longest sleep stretch to be at night.

2. Nighttime feeding and sleep are connected

A number of factors influence how long your baby sleeps at night. One of the most important of these is the nighttime feeding. The most primal and powerful urge your infant knows at birth is a simple one: eat, eat, eat. This need takes precedent over being snuggled, over play time, even over sleeping.

What, when, and how much you feed your baby has an impact on how much he’ll sleep. It boils down to this: make sure you fill your baby’s belly with a full, nourishing meal before bedtime. For more help, see our article on feeding your baby for sleep.

3. Set and follow a bedtime routine

A consistent bedtime routine is a critical part of baby sleep training. Let’s be honest, life with a baby in the house (let alone twins) tends to be chaotic. If there’s ever a time for constancy and harmony, it’s the half hour before bed. By following the same steps in the same order every night, you teach your baby that these are the events leading to bedtime. They know where it’s going, and by the time you put them in the crib, they expect it.

Aside from the core elements (feeding, diaper change, and pajamas), the elements you put into your baby’s nighttime routine are up to you. Maybe you like reading to your baby, singing lullabies, or rocking in a rocking chair.

4. No bedtime is too early

Once your baby starts sleeping for longer periods (5-7 hours), setting a bedtime becomes more important. Often in our modern world, parents simply keep their babies up too late. There are lots of reasons for this — parents who work want to spend more time with the little one, or the chaos of dinner and clean-up takes too long. Giving your baby an early bedtime, however, can have surprising results: it helps them sleep longer!

Our little ones go to bed about an hour after dinner. That’s just enough play time and food-settling time, and then they’re ready. The signs are usually there: rubbing eyes, snuggling blankets, glazed eyes, and general fussiness. Look for these in your baby and you might find she’s ready for bed earlier than you’d think.

5. The diaper makes a big difference

As infants, our babies went through 8-10 diapers per day. That’s one about every three hours. When you want your baby to sleep 5 hours, 7 hours, or longer, a regular diaper just isn’t going to cut it! When our babies started sleeping longer at night, we switched them to a nighttime diaper. These generally are available in size 3 and up, and provide way more absorbency than your typical diaper. It’s just astonishing how much these can hold.

They also work to wick the moisture away from your baby, making him or her more comfortable. And that translates into longer sleep for the both of you!

Personalized Baby Books

6. Sleep training can work against you

The term “sleep training” refers to habits that are formed out of repetition. Ideally, these are good habits that you help establish for your baby. However, it’s equally possible that sleep training can work against you if the habits you allow are less than ideal. Some examples of these:

  • Letting the baby sleep in your bed, a swing, or somewhere other than the crib
  • Reinforcing late-night wake-ups in older babies (>6 months) with a bottle

The last one got us into trouble with one of our boys. He started waking up in the middle of the night, we’d feed him, and he’d go back to sleep. The problem was that we knew he was capable of sleeping through the night, but we reinforced the wake-up by feeding him every time. On the advice of our pediatrician, we devoted one week of sleep training to wean him from that. It paid off big time!

7. Only one thing goes in the crib

The baby. That’s right, the latest baby sleep safety guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that the infant be the only thing in the crib. No pillows, no stuffed animals, no loose blankets, and certainly no crib bumpers. A swaddle is permitted (not to mention recommended by most experts for warmth, safety, and security), as is a pacifier. When your baby starts kicking out of the swaddle blanket, switch to a sleep sack (a sort of “wearable blanket) instead.

8. Cereal and solid food will help

Before your baby is old enough to eat solid foods, you should have limited expectations about how long he’ll sleep at night. An all-liquid diet of breast milk and/or formula simply digests rather quickly. When your pediatrician advises you to start giving single-grain cereal, don’t delay! As soon as your baby gets the hang of that, you have a new tool in your baby sleep training arsenal.

Cereal and solid food provide a “slow burn” that seems to stave off hunger. When it comes to sleeping through the night, solid food at dinner time may be more important than the bottle before bed. In fact, we sometimes offer a little bowl of cereal right before that bottle for our extra-hungry baby boy, and it makes a difference.

Solve baby sleep problems

This baby wants something

9. You can solve most baby sleep problems

Many (if not most) baby sleep problems have a cause, though it might not be obvious at first. Once you figure that out, there’s probably something you can do about it. Here are some articles that will help you address some of the more common baby sleep issues.

Get these figured out, and you’ll notice an improvement in your baby’s sleep habits.

10. There is no universal baby sleep solution

We hope that some of these tips are useful to you. In fairness, many of them aren’t really secrets — the nighttime routine and early bedtime, for example — but common strategies for baby sleep training recommended by many experts. None of these experts knows your baby as well as you do. Above all, pay attention to your little one and trust your instincts.

Most of what we learned and found success with for our children was the result of trial and error. Try something new for a few days and see if it helps. It takes both effort and time, which you (as an exhausted new parent) might not have in great supply. But it’s an investment that will pay off huge in the long run. Good luck!

Baby Sleep Problems

Baby sleep problems are a source of frustration and exhaustion for many parents. Here, we’ll discuss common problems in getting your baby to fall asleep, establishing good sleep habits, and teaching babies to sleep through the night.
baby sleep problemsProblems Getting Baby to Sleep
Baby won’t sleep in crib
Gas or digestion keeping baby awake
Baby only falls asleep in my arms

Problems with Sleep Habits
Baby has no sleep schedule
Baby sleeps too much
Baby sleeps during the day but not at night
Baby cries in his sleep

Problems Sleeping Through the Night
Baby wakes up to eat
Baby wakes up to play
Baby diaper problems
Sick baby
Teething baby

Problems Getting Baby to Sleep

Many baby sleep problems involve getting the baby to fall asleep consistently in his or her crib and without much fuss. One thing works to your advantage here: babies need sleep, and lots of it. At some point their bodies will take over. But establishing a bedtime routine and sticking to it is important, and it should start the day your baby gets home from the hospital. If not then, it should start now!

It might be hard to fix these problems cold turkey. If you need to make a change, start once every 2 or 3 days and work your way up. This will make the transition easier on everyone. Let’s talk about some of the unfortunate habits that babies get into.

Baby won’t sleep in crib

Arm's Reach Baby Bassinet

Arm’s Reach Bassinet

This is a common baby sleep problem, one that parents are often posting about in the forums. Maybe you’re transitioning the baby from bassinet to crib. Maybe you’ve gotten into the habit of letting him sleep in a swing, or worse, sharing your bed. The crib is the safest place for your baby to sleep. Unfortunately, it’s also flat and wide open space that may seem scary to your baby until he’s used to it.

There are a few things you can do to make this transition more comfortable. Try a portable bassinet (left) that lets your baby lay right next to you but in his own little space. Swaddle your newborn to help him or her feel snug and secure. Next, set the mood with a soothing music box or baby night light. Use the same one, every night, when baby goes into the crib.

For detailed help, see our article on Getting Baby to Sleep in the Crib.

Gas or digestion keeping baby awake

baby gas problems gripe water

Gripe Water

If your baby has reflux, or squirms and cries when put in bed, your problems may be from baby’s digestion. Gas makes babies uncomfortable, particularly when they’re laying down. To address this, make sure to burp your baby thoroughly before putting him or her into the crib. Second, you should elevate one side of the bed, the side where your baby’s head will be.

Most cribs these days have different height settings; you can lower one end to create a slight incline. This puts gravity on your side and reduces spitting up. It may also help bubbles work their way out rather than going through your baby’s digestion system. For more help, see the article on 5 things to do for gas.

Baby only falls asleep in my arms

pink baby swaddlers

Velcro Swaddlers

This is another frequent problem I hear about, often with new parents. The baby only falls asleep while being held or rocked. First things first, you should put your baby into bed before he or she falls asleep. This teaches your baby to soothe himself to sleep, and makes these transitions easier. You don’t want to get into a situation where you put the baby down, he wakes up, and you have to start over.

Put the baby in bed, offer a pacifier, tuck in the swaddle or blanket, and leave the room. This last part is important; your baby knows when you’re around. If the baby fusses or cries at first, that’s fine. Give him 5-10 minutes to settle down. Go back in, re-pacifier, re-tuck, and leave again. Eventually the need to sleep will overpower the need to be held.

For more help, see our article on 12 ways to make a baby sleep.

Problems with Sleep Habits

Sleep habits vary widely among babies, even between twins. Here we’ll focus on the habits that create problems for establishing a good sleep routine. If your baby sleeps too little, too much, or at random intervals, this section is for you. Make sure you check our baby sleep chart to know what the norm is for babies at your infant’s age. A newborn (0-2 months), for example, should not and usually cannot sleep more than 5-6 hours consecutively. A 9-month-old or 12-month-old, however, should be able to sleep 10-11 hours at night, if not more. Let’s go through some common sleep habit problems and talk about how to address them.

Baby has no sleep schedule

Most newborns eat every three to four hours, and generally sleep in between. If your baby spent any time at the NICU, he or she probably already follows a schedule like this; as NICU nurses must care for multiple infants at once, they don’t have the luxury of feeding a baby whenever he cries. Our nurses established, and recommended that we continue, a schedule based upon points of the clock: 3, 6, 9, 12. The maximum wiggle room was about half an hour, no more. This means that we’d wake a baby up at 3:30 if he was supposed to eat at 3. If he woke up early, we’d try to hold him off until at least 2:30. This kept our babies on schedule and let us plan our our days at nights.

If your baby eats a little bit, falls asleep, and then wakes up half an hour to an hour later, then you’ve got problems. Most likely, he or she is waking up hungry. Try to get your baby to drink the whole bottle. If he falls asleep while drinking, wake him up by switching positions, talking to him, or doing a diaper change. Feeding, burping, and a fresh diaper are the key to make it for 3-4 hours.

Baby sleeps too much

There’s an old adage, one my dad likes to bring up, that you should “never wake a sleeping baby.” There is such a thing, however, as a baby sleeping too much. This is a tough one, because most other parents you ask about it don’t see it as a problem. Judging by the number of forum posts and internet searches on this, however, it’s actually a problem for many babies. First, you should be aware that newborns need a lot of sleep.

According to the baby sleep chart, a newborn should sleep 18 hours a day. If your baby is sleeping more than that, or not eating frequently enough, it’s time to take action. Lucky for you, waking a baby up is easy. Light, noise, and movement work well for this. I find that changing a diaper and/or the baby’s clothes gives a brush of cool air that rouses them nicely.

Baby sleeps during the day but not at night

twilight turtle night light

Twilight Turtle

Here’s an issue that even the authors are dealing with: babies that sleep better in the daytime than at night. Everyone does better when the pressure’s off, right? My understanding is that this problem is due to (1) mixed-up circadian rhythms, and (2) getting too much sleep during the day.

The circadian rhythm thing has to do with light exposure – make sure your baby experiences natural light during the daytime, and sleeps in a completely dark or near-dark room (with the exception of a night light). Also, we’ve found that if we let the babies nap for too long before dinner, or put them to bed too early in the evening, they’ll wake up in the middle of the night. Curtail the daytime sleeping, and you’ll find that your baby does better overnight.

Baby cries in his sleepBaby Sleep Problems Crying

Sometimes babies fuss or cry in the middle of the night without truly waking up. It’s hard to say what causes this. They might be having a bad dream. They might have a bit of discomfort from stomach gas or digestion. Or they might simply wake up briefly in the dark, alone, and feel a bit frightened. The bottom line is that most of these babies can be soothed right back to sleep, if they don’t manage it on their own.

The worst thing you can do is go barging in there and throw on all of the lights, waking the baby up. I go in quietly, and if his eyes are closed, I re-insert the pacifier, tuck in the blanket, maybe touch his head and whisper a soothing word, and then I leave the room. This works almost every time.

Problems Sleeping Through the Night

Babies start sleeping through the night at different ages. For us, we were lucky in that all three of our children proved themselves capable by three months of age. This is roughly in line with the baby sleep chart; by three to six months, most babies are capable of doing 5 to 8 hours at night. That’s the age, and the amount of sleep, at which most parents I know start looking presentable again in daytime. While there’s bound to be variation between babies in how early they’ll sleep through the night and for how long, here are some of the problems you might have to overcome.

Baby wakes up to eat

In my experience, hunger is the number one reason that babies wake up in the middle of the night. The key is to stuff them with as much food as possible at the dinnertime and (if applicable) the nighttime feeding. Your baby might be capable of drinking more than you suspect; if he finishes a bottle and still seems interested, burp him, and then offer another 2 ounces. As soon as your baby is allowed single-grain cereal (usually the first permitted solid), start giving it to him. In the morning, try spoon-feeding, as they’ll need to learn how to do this and it takes a while to get the hang of it.

At nighttime, right before the longest sleep period, I’m a firm believer in mixing in some cereal with breast milk or formula. Not so much that it’s no longer liquid; I’m talking about perhaps 1 teaspoon per 4 ounces of milk. Make sure you use a level 2 or level 3 nipple and watch for clogs. When your baby takes cereal, you will almost certainly enjoy longer naps and more sleep at night. See the article on nighttime feeding and sleep for more on how to handle this problem.

Baby sleep problems awakeBaby wakes up to play

This is a problem I hear about occasionally from other parents – their baby wakes up to eat in the middle of the night. Afterward, the parent wants to go back to bed, but the baby is wide awake and ready to play. This might be because the baby’s well-rested and doesn’t recognize that it’s still nighttime. More likely, though, the baby’s waking up and feeding overstimulates him or her into a state of alertness. You can take several steps to avoid this:

  1. Respond quickly. The sooner you start soothing and feeding your baby, the less he’ll wake himself up. I also keep bottles with pre-measured formula standing by for the same reason.
  2. Minimize light. Use the hall light or a night light to provide just enough for you to see by, no more. The less light he’s exposed to, the less it will rouse him.
  3. Keep quiet. The less you talk to your baby, the less he’ll feel the need to wake up and respond to you.
  4. Feed him close to bed. We have a soft, rocking armchair in the baby’s room and another just downstairs to handle those late-night feedings.

Last, and most important, once you’ve fed and burped your baby, and put him back in bed, leave the room.

Baby diaper problems

huggies overnites for diaper problemsSometimes babies wake up sooner than they should due to a wet or dirty diaper. Or, they might go through the night and wake up extremely wet, sometimes causing skin irritation. You should put your baby in a fresh diaper right before bed. Also, look into Huggies Overnites diapers, which are super-thick and wick away more moisture for the long night’s sleep.

Sick baby

Few things disrupt a sleeping schedule like a sick baby. When your baby is sick, he’s often congested, has trouble breathing, and feels icky in general. He coughs the pacifier right out. There are a few things you can do to make your baby comfortable and help him sleep:

  • Get the nose clear. You can try the blue bulb-syringe, which most babies seem to hate. We had better luck just using the infant saline drops, which help break up the mucus.
  • Run a cool-air humidifier in baby’s room. This softens and moistens the air, making it easier to breathe.
  • If your pediatrician permits it, give baby pain reliever / fever reducer (Tylenol or ibuprofen).

For more help, see the article on getting a sick baby to sleep.

Teething baby

Giraffe baby teether

Giraffe Teether

Sometime between the ages of three and twelve months, your baby will start teething. This will probably create all kinds of problems for you – teething babies don’t want to eat, drink bottles, take a pacifier, or go to bed. They pretty much just want to be held. The very first thing that you should try is Baby Orajel, a gel that you spread on baby’s gums with a Q-tip. It contains a topical anesthetic, and I know it works because if I can’t find a Q-tip and put it on with a finger, my finger’s numb about five minutes later.

If things are still really bad, and your pediatrician OK’s it, a bit of baby Tylenol will provide some relief as well. Give the medicine a few minutes before you feed your baby, so that the relief arrives in time to let him finish that critical nighttime bottle.

For more help, see our article on What to Do When Baby Is Teething.

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Crib Soother and Sound Machine Reviews

Sound machine reviewsSleep soothers, or sound machines, are incredibly helpful to put in baby’s room. By providing a consistent, soothing noise when you put your baby to bed, these devices help teach your infant that it’s time to go to sleep.
Benefits of Soothers & Sound Machines
Baby Soother Reviews
Sound Machine Reviews

Benefits of Soothers and Sound Machines

Baby sleep sheep sootherA sound machine is one of those kinds of baby gear that you might think you can do without. However, there are a few reasons you might want to add one to your baby sleep bag-of-tricks:

  1. Soothing sounds for bedtime. You can make a lullaby or sound effect part of the nightly routine – an audible clue that tells your baby it’s time to go to sleep for the night.
  2. Drown out other noise to prevent wake-ups. You can’t control every noise around your house, like neighbor dogs barking or some joker mowing his lawn right in the middle of nap time. A sound machine provides constant white noise to help drown these things out.
  3. A comfort for nighttime wake-ups. It’s nice to have a little soothing music to flip on if your baby wakes up and is fussing a little. This has

Baby Soother Reviews

Here, I review the top-selling baby soothers on Amazon and discuss the features of each. First up: soft, plush baby soothers that your baby can touch and hold.

Sleep Sheep Soother

Cloud B Sleep Sheep

Sleep Sheep Soother reviews
Buy this baby soother

  • 4 different soothing sounds
  • Velcro tab for securing outside crib
  • Removable sound box

Soother Review:
This soft and cuddly plush toy plays four soothing noises: mother’s heartbeat, spring showers, ocean’s relaxing surf and whale songs. It plays for 23 minutes and then shuts off automatically. The sound box has adjustable volume, and is removable. The Sleep Sheep also comes with velcro straps so that you can attach it to a crib or stroller. This is the #1 baby soother on Amazon, and the #2 soother is a smaller travel sleep sheep.

Gentle Giraffe Baby Soother

Cloud B Gentle Giraffe Travel Soother

Gentle Giraffe Soother reviews
Buy this baby soother

  • Award-winning travel companion from Cloud B
  • 23 and 45 minute timers
  • Ideal for strollers, car seats, or baby carriers.

Soother Review:
The travel-size Gentle Giraffe features four peaceful sounds: Safari Groove, Victoria Falls, Jungle Trails and Babbling Brook. The auto-shutoff timer can be set for either 23 or 45 minutes, and the giraffe comes with velcro straps so that you can attach it to a stroller, crib, or car seat. This little guy is adorable!

Slumber Bear with Silkie Blanket

Slumber Bear Soother reviews
Buy this baby soother

  • Invented by a doctor and used in hospital nurseries for 27 years
  • Requires AAA batteries.
  • Baby’s sound or movement activates bear’s soothing sounds.

Soother Review:
The Prince Lionheart Slumber Bear is a sort of “audible pacifier” that your baby can cuddle. A unique feature is that it plays an actual recording taken inside a mother’s womb, for the most natural soothing sound that you can offer your baby. In addition to a soft silk blanket, this guy has little velcro paws for attaching to crib bars or strollers.

Sound Machine Reviews

Sound machines are like little music boxes that hang on the crib or sit on a table in your baby’s room. These aren’t as cuddly, but they usually have a wider range of music, sound effects, and volume controls.

Sleepmate Sound Machine

Marpac Dohm Dual Speed Sound Conditioner

Sleepmate Sound Machine reviews
Buy this sound machine

  • White noise generator with 2-speed operation
  • Measures 5.8″ in diameter, 3.8″ tall; weighs 1.8 pounds
  • Made in the USA of durable plastic
  • One-year warranty

Sound Machine Review:
Marpac Dohm invented the original sound conditioner in 1962. The modern version remains simple but effective: it creates pure white noise with the sound of rushing air. Not only does it provide a comforting background sound, but drowns out any noises that might wake the baby. It’s compact and lightweight so it won’t take up a lot of room on a shelf or changing table. More importantly, you can bring it wherever the baby goes to help your little one sleep.

This is currently the #1 selling “sound conditioner” and with about 1700 people giving it 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, you can’t go wrong. Get one for your room too!

Graco Sound Machine with Ipod

Graco Sound Machine

Graco Sound Machine reviews
Buy this sound machine

  • 12 soothing sounds included, plus port to plug in Ipod or MP3 player
  • Handy soft glow night light
  • Compact size for easy travel

Sound Machine Review:
The sound machine combines a soft-glow night light with 12 high-quality soothing sounds (white noise, nature sounds and lullabies). You can also plug your MP3 player into the auxiliary port and play your own sounds or music for your baby. One great feature is that you can plug it in or run it on batteries. Plus, it’s small and compact and thus travels quite well.

Kids Sleep Machine

Kids Sleep Machine

Kids Sleep Machine reviews
Buy this sound machine

  • A night-light, wake-up indicator, and alarm clock in one
  • Helps kids stay in bed until it’s time to get up.
  • Three levels of brightness

Sound Machine Review:
This is a visual soother, designed to help your baby self-regulate at night. The blue light and sleeping image remains lit when your child should be asleep; the bright and sunny image lights up when it’s time for him to wake up. There’s an optional alarm so that older children can use it as an alarm clock.

Why Buy A Sound Machine?

If you don’t have a crib soother or sound machine in the nursery, get one right now! There are few better things that you can buy, inexpensively, and quickly improve your baby’s sleep habits. Sound machines drown out the noisy guy in the apartment upstairs and the jerk neighbor who has to mow his lawn during nap time.

They provide a soothing background sound that your baby learns to associate with the comfort of his or her own bed. Heck, we use one in our own room for the very same reasons.

Get one of these. You won’t regret it.

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Best Baby Mobiles Travel Crib Reviews Wireless baby monitor reviews Baby Swing Reviews
Best Crib Mobiles reviews musical, black/white, and organic crib mobiles. Travel Crib Reviews covers light-weight, ultra-portable bassinets and cribs for traveling. Wireless Baby Monitors are a great way to keep a close eye on baby. Baby Swing Reviews compares bestselling portable and free-standing baby swings.

Mini Crib Reviews

baby mini crib reviewsMini cribs offer a cozy, compact, and safe place for your baby to sleep. As with most products, there are lots of choices. We’ve done the research to find and review the best mini cribs to help you find one that’s right for your baby.
Benefits of Mini Cribs
Mini Crib Reviews
Mini Crib Mattress Reviews

5 Benefits of Mini Cribs

Many parents invest in a mini crib in place of or in addition to a standard crib. These aren’t the little bassinets that you saw at the foot of the parents’ bed in black and white movies. These are full-featured cribs with solid construction and stunning designs, but slightly more compact than a standard crib. They’re still quite roomy; even a 2-year-old would be comfortable in most of them. Here are five great benefits that mini cribs offer:

1 Saving space in an apartment or small house. Mini cribs have a footprint that’s 25% smaller than a standard crib. That saves you a lot of space if you have a small nursery, apartment, or house. Surprisingly, though, babies are usually content in mini cribs even when they’re 2 years old and 25 pounds. A mini crib is sturdier than a portable bassinet. And most mini cribs let you install musical baby mobiles and other accessories.
2 Overnights with grandma & grandpa. If your baby spends any nights or weekends with the grandparents, a mini crib or bassinet is a comfortable, safe place for them to sleep without taking over the house. And your baby is more likely to sleep in a crib there if he or she has one at home. These are cheaper than full-size cribs, too.
3 Lightweight portability. All of the mini cribs that we review below weigh less than 40 pounds; most of them are 25 or 30 pounds. Some even have wheels. This makes them ultra-portable for moving from room to room without breaking your back, but you can lock them into place so that they’re stable while your baby is in them.
4 Room sharing with the parents. Sharing a room with your baby has lots of benefits – it lets you monitor your baby while he or she sleeps, and offers parents some peace of mind. In fact, room sharing (but not bed sharing) is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s also convenient for handling late-night feedings in the first couple of months.
5 To keep in the cabin, lake house, or vacation home. If you have a little place at the lake or vacation home, mini cribs are a compact and relatively inexpensive option to ensure that your baby always has a comfortable, safe place to sleep while you’re there. No more toting around the pack-N-play or swing just to give your little one a spot to nap in! And as I said above, if your baby is accustomed to sleeping in a crib, a mini crib’s not that much different (just a bit smaller).


Mini Crib Reviews

Emily Mini Crib
Emily Mini Crib Reviews
DaVinci Emily Mini Crib


Emily Mini Crib Reviews
Buy this Mini Crib Now
Size: 39.5 x 28 x 38 inches ; 36.5 pounds
  • Four level mattress support board
  • Nearly half the size of a regular crib
  • Converts to twin size bed with conversion rails (sold seperately)
  • 1 year limited warranty
  • Made of sustainable pine from New Zealand.

Mini Crib Review:

The DaVinci Emily Mini Crib is currently the bestselling mini crib on Amazon. Constructed of sustainable New Zealand pine, this mini offers all of the features of a full-size crib, but in a smaller package.

It has four mattress adjustments (usually you start at the top setting and lower it as your baby grows). It has a lead-safe and phthalate-safe non-toxic finish. You can even convert this mini crib to a twin bed when your baby gets older.

One of my favorite features of DaVinci mini cribs is that they’re made of solid wood – pine from New Zealand’s sustainable forests. I can’t say enough about buying real wood furniture. This stuff lasts and can be passed down generations. Particle board furniture from China can’t do that.

Pine construction makes this minicrib sturdy but lightweight. You can let a 25-pound 2-year-old sleep in it, and still move it easily around the room. That’s according to one of the reviews. The mattress pad is pretty thin (1″) so you’ll undoubtedly want to purchase a mini crib mattress.

You have a few different color options for this mini crib, including (from darkest to lightest) ebony black, expresso, and honey oak.


Bloom Alma Mini Crib Bloom Alma Urban Crib


Bloom Alma Mini Crib Reviews
Buy this Mini Crib Now
Size: 19.2 x 37 x 33 inches ; 50.6 pounds
  • Solid wood construction
  • Modern design for urban spaces
  • Sets up in 5 minutes, no tools required
  • Folds up for compact storage and transport
  • Rolls easily in small rooms and hallways

Mini Crib Review:

The Bloom Alma Mini Crib is designed for three things: style, mobility, and storage. The construction is solid wood with stainless-steel detailing. The design is urban-inspired, and lets you wheel (on 4 casters) your napping baby from room to room. Even through narrow hallways. It folds up when not in use for storage or travel.

The setup takes less than 5 minutes, and requires absolutely no tools. This co-sleeper/bassinet has two mattress level settings to accommodate your baby as he or she grows. Overall, a simple, elegant, well-made crib for small living spaces.

Note: The cappuccino, grey, and orange colors are sold by and get free shipping.


Alpha Mini Crib Review DaVinci Alpha Mini Rocking Crib


Alpha Mini Crib Reviews
Buy this Mini Crib Now
Size: 38.8 x 26.1 x 35.4 inches ; 26 pounds
  • Can be rocked as a rocking cradle, or can be locked into position with rocking stops
  • Made of New Zealand sustainable pine wood
  • Lead-free and safety certified.
  • Multi-level support frame to adjust to your child’s growth
  • Two teething rails to protect the rails and casters for easy mobility

Mini Crib Review:

The DaVinci Alpha Rocking Mini Crib is a safe, compact crib with one outstanding feature: the ability to rock your baby in the crib. This makes it an excellent choice for keeping next to the parents’ bed, because if the baby wakes, a gentle touch to rock the crib back and forth will often soothe him or her back to sleep.

Another nice feature is the rollers, which lets you move the crib easily from room to room. This mini crib doesn’t take up much space, but surprisingly, lots of parents are using it until the babies are 12 months old or older.

This is also a lead-free mini crib and safety certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). You can get this crib in dark cherry, pure white, or natural pine colors. White seems the most popular choice, as it makes cute bedding sets really pop.


Delta Riley Mini Crib Reviews Delta Children’s Products Riley Mini Crib


Delta Riley Mini Crib Reviews
Buy this Mini Crib Now
Size: 40.4 x 27.4 x 5.5 inches ; 40 pounds
  • Compact yet stylish crib
  • No moving parts, all sides are stationary.
  • Converts to twin sized bed, toddler bed or day bed
  • 3″ waterproof mattress pad is included
  • Available in 3 different colors.

Mini Crib Review:

The Delta Children’s Products Riley Mini Crib is the perfect space-saver for apartments or small houses, grandma and grandpa’s house, the cabin, or other places where space is at a premium. It has two mattress settings and converts quickly to a toddler bed, day bed, or even a twin.

The 3″ waterproof mattress pad is enough to keep most babies comfortable; though you might want to add a 50-spring mini crib mattress.

The design and finish of this mini crib are both very well done. It has a solid construction of real wood. A single person can assemble it in 30-45 minutes, and the mini crib (when assembled) moves easily from room to room.

This crib comes in dark cherry, chocolate, or white, so there are lots of options to match any bedroom.

Mini Crib Mattress Reviews

If you buy a mini crib, don’t forget to buy a mattress for it! Choosing a mattress for mini cribs is rather straighforward, since they’re mostly all a standard size (about 24 inches wide and 37 inches long). Thickness varies between mattresses, but you probably don’t need something more than 6″ thick. The most important feature is that the mattress fit snugly inside the mini crib, allowing no gaps where your baby might get stuck.

Mini Crib Mattress DaVinci Mini Crib Mattress


Mini Crib Mattress Reviews
Buy this Mattress Now
Size: 37.1 x 23.8 x 5.8 inches ; 7.5 pounds
  • 50 coils in a tempered steel unit.
  • 14 gauge coils and 9 gage border rod for edge support.
  • Resinated polyester fiber batting padding.
  • Reinforced Triple Laminated Wet-Proof Cover.
  • 25 year limited manufacturer warranty.

Mattress Review:

This mini crib mattress is a 50-coil mattress, durable with a tempered steel spring unit for added firmness. It has a triple-laminated wet-free cover and hypo-allergenic construction to keep your baby comfortable overnight.

The 25-year limited manufacturer warranty is kind of amusing – it’s unlikely you’re going to need a warranty that lasts more than a few years, right? Still, it’s a sign that the manufacturer stands behind this product, and I do like that.

With 50 heavy-gauge coils, this mattress gives same healthy serenity, just in a smaller package.

Traveling with Infants: The Essentials

Infant travel tips

Flickr Credit: treehouse1977

After the first few months (or weeks) of having your newborn baby at home, you might be getting a little stir crazy. Or your family or friends who live a few hours away begin clamoring loud enough that they’d like to see you, and you feel brave enough to take a family trip. Traveling with infants can be a major challenge. With a few tricks up your sleeve, you can make the ride a little bit easier. Our guide is broken down into three sections:

Day-to-Day Essentials
Taking Baby Out In Public
Infant Sleep While Traveling

Day-to-Day Essentials for Infant Care

First off, the easy stuff. You’ll need enough of those daily things that your baby needs, including but not limited to:

  • Formula and/or baby food. It’s best to over-estimate how much you need, because these can be expensive when you buy them out of town. You should have enough clean bottles and nipples within reach, as well as bottles of clean water for mixing. One item that can be a life-saver when traveling with infants is pre-mixed, ready-to-feed liquid formula. These seem to taste a bit different from the powder, so make sure your baby likes it before you leave town.
  • Diapers and wipes. Calculate how many you need per day per baby, and then add 20% just to be safe. The importance of diapers is often underestimated! There can be unforeseen blowouts or bouts of digestive issues. Plus, traveling is much easier when you’re not trying to stretch diapers.
  • Baby clothes. Pack plenty of these, and go for comfort over cuteness. Think about what your newborn should sleep in. Footed pajamas or onesies are easier to keep track of than socks. Same thing with single-piece garments over two-piece outfits.
  • Car seat. You have this already, because it’s the law. If you’re flying, be certain ahead of time that there will be a car seat waiting for the ride from the airport to wherever you’re going. If it’s a shuttle and they don’t offer one, bring your own.
  • Stroller. Unless you plan to lug your baby around in his or her car seat the whole time, bring along an umbrella stroller or travel system. See our Pram & Stroller Reviews for some of the best options.
  • Toiletries. Don’t forget the little things like Q-tips, diaper rash cream, and baby toothbrushes. For a full list, see our article on 14 things for baby’s medicine cabinet.

Adjusting Your Baby’s Car Seat

The more comfortable your baby is, the more relaxed he’ll be. That’s the key to traveling with babies. It starts in the car with a properly adjusted car seat.

  • Adjust the straps of the car seat to the proper height. Your baby’s grown since you came home from the hospital. For most car seats, you make this adjustment before putting the baby in because it involves flipping the seat upside down. Set the straps so that they’re at shoulder level or slightly above.
  • Position the baby deep into the seat and in a comfortable posture. It’s OK to use the head support and such that came with the seat, but no after-market products, as these haven’t been crash-tested with the seat. The only thing permissible is a rolled-up receiving blanket. For newborns, you may need two or three rolled-up blankets to keep them upright and in position.
  • Keep the light out. One lesson we learned the hard way on long car trips is that even tinted windows don’t keep the sun out, especially in summertime. It seems like every other stretch of highway puts the sunbeams right in your baby’s face. You might not even realize this because the seat is rear-facing. Get a pair of pull-down window shades for cars. In a pinch, I’ve also tied towels or blankets to the “oh crap” handle above the door. If your baby’s car seat has a canopy, use that too – most of them rotate 180 degrees.

Taking Baby Out in Public

Newborn baby carrier reviews

Baby Carrier Reviews

When you’re traveling, you’ll most likely spend more time taking your infant in public – stores, restaurants, that sort of thing. One thing that you will immediately notice is that babies have a strange effect on people. Complete strangers will approach and greet your baby, often making silly faces or noises to try to get a smile. This stuff is fine. What you  need to watch out for is this: people will come up and touch your baby without asking you. They often don’t even realize it – there’s some base instinct acting here. My grandmother was notorious for this.

Being a germophobe, I don’t like strangers touching my baby, especially his hands which are likely to return any moment to his mouth. Here are the strategies I use to prevent it:

  1. Block access to the baby. If your car seat or stroller has a canopy, use it. Keep your baby close to you at all times, so that you can use your body as another barrier. See our review of newborn baby carriers to learn about some great options for keeping baby close but your hands free.
  2. Be ready to speak and act. If I see someone reaching for my baby, I ask them to stop. If necessary, I will physically block their outstretched, likely-unwashed fingers. I do try to be nice while doing this; one phrase that seems to help is when I say “Oh, sorry, he’s just getting over a cold.”
  3. Keep hand sanitizer with you at all times. Use it liberally on your baby’s hands in the event that someone touches them. You should also use it yourself after touching door handles, cart handles, cash, public-use writing utensils, that sort of thing.

Baby High Chair / Shopping Cart Covers

One of the best baby items that we ever bought was a highchair/shopping cart cover. These serve several purposes. First, they’re soft and padded to protect your baby from the hard surface of the chair or cart. Second, they help catch anything that your baby might drop, such as a pacifier. Third, they act as a germ barrier between your baby and whatever the previous babies in that chair have had. People are always coming up and asking where we got ours.

travel high chairPortable High Chairs

Another very useful item to pack along for baby road trips is a portable high chair. This is something I always seem to forget when we’re going places with the kids, and them I’m always kicking myself for it. Portable high chairs like the Ciao Baby travel high chair have so many uses for when you’re out and about with a baby:

  • A clean place to plop the baby when visiting friends
  • At a picnic or outdoor party, somewhere safe and bug-free for baby to sit.
  • An excuse not to borrow the dirty or rickety old high chair from someone’s garage
  • A slight reduction in the mess your little messy eater will leave behind

Helping Your Infant Sleep While Traveling

Traveling with your infant is easiest when he’s sleeping. Unfortunately, babies have trouble sleeping in strange environments, and you can’t take the entire baby room with you. Still, with a little bit of planning, you can bring along a few essentials to help establish a comfortable, portable sleeping setup for your infant. Alternatively, if you’re traveling to the lake cabin or grandparents’ house, what better place to install a mini crib or bassinet? That way your little one always has a place to sleep and call their own.

  1. Pacifier clip. At home, if the pacifier falls on the floor it’s no big deal. A quick rinse and wipe, and you pop it right back into the baby’s mouth. When traveling, it’s another story. If it falls in the car you can’t find it; if it falls on the floor of a restaurant or store or hotel room, there’s no way you’re putting it right back in. Enter one of the best inventions ever for baby care: the pacifier clip. It fits most pacifiers and attaches snugly to your baby’s outfit or sleep sack. There’s always a pacifier handy when this thing is attached. Don’t leave home without one.
  2. Travel crib or pack-N-play. Your baby needs a soft, protected place to sleep while you’re traveling. Traditionally, you lugged along a pack-N-play (also called a play yard) for your baby to sleep in. High-end models come with built-in bassinets, changers, and compartments, but those don’t travel as well as the basic pen does. But there are some other options out there: compact folding bassinets and cribs designed to be travel friendly. See our review of portable travel cribs for some of the best options there.
  3. Portable swing. We have a Fisher-Price portable swing like this one, we love it. It folds up flat enough to stick behind the front seat of the mini-van. It runs on batteries, is quiet, and very soft. Babies love this thing. An added bonus is that this swing is small enough to keep in the corner of a room, and keeps your baby off of the floor. For a breakdown of the features, see our comparison of baby swings.
  4. A portable night light like this one, which is rechargeable and comes in a variety of animal shapes, is a comfort you can take along with you. The trick is to use the same light at home, so that your baby is accustomed to it. See our guide to night lights for babies for details.
  5. Sound machine. You won’t be able to control much of the noise in a car, on an airplane, or even in your hotel room. To soothe your baby and provide some white noise, look into a baby soother or sound machine. They even make portable versions of these.

Helping Baby Sleep Longer

Helping baby sleep longerFor many of us, an hour of sleep can make all the difference in the world. This is especially true when you have a baby who’s been waking up every 3-4 hours for the last few months. At the newborn stage, there’s no avoiding it. Infants need to eat every 2-4 hours and they really shouldn’t sleep longer than 5 hours before around the age of 3 months. That’s just the joy (price) of bringing a newborn into the world.

Baby sleep, just like feeding and physical development, tends to progress in phases. Sometime between 3 and 6 months (adjusted age), your baby may start sleeping a bit longer. At least, he probably has the capability to do so in at least one sleep stretch. Ideally, that’s when you should be sleeping, too. Sometimes this isn’t possible because the timing is off; our own little ones seemed to favor the morning nap period. This is normal.

Let’s assume that your baby is at least 4-6 months old, follows something of a daily routine, and sleeps at least a few hours at night. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of, and offer some tips for, helping baby sleep longer.

Why Help Baby Sleep Longer?

Most parents we know really turn a corner when their little one goes for five or seven hours at night. They start showering regularly and looking less zombie-like during the day. Since you’re here, I probably don’t need to sell you on the idea of helping your baby sleep longer, but let’s talk about the benefits anyway.

  • Cognitive development. It’s during sleep that memories are made permanent, which is a big deal for an infant. Longer sleep periods are likely to help remember all the things they learned during the day.
  • Physical recuperation. For both baby and exhausted parent, the physical recovery that sleep offers is a must. Muscles rest, blood vessels are repaired.
  • Avoiding sickness. Scientific evidence suggests that the immune system is stronger while sleeping. It follows that more sleep can help prevent sickness. That’s a good thing, because helping a sick baby to sleep is even harder.

It goes without saying that when the baby sleeps longer, so do you. Thus you’ll reap all of the benefits above as well. According to a recent study on baby sleep intervention, baby sleep problems are linked to maternal depression and other long-term problems. There are plenty of good reasons to want to improve your baby’s sleep habits.

Tips for Helping Baby Sleep Longer

So what can you do to help your baby sleep longer? There are many things. All of these are (in my opinion) universally good baby sleep tips, but you might want to try one at a time, for at least 2-3 days, to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Try An Early Bedtime

This tip comes first because it’s really important. By setting an early bedtime, you encourage your little one’s sleep cycles to coincide with circadian rhythms. You also prevent over-tiredness from diminishing his sleep quality. For more benefits and some practical how-to advice, see our article on early bedtimes for baby.

Make Sure Baby’s Tummy Is Full

Your little one is always growing, and with that comes ever-growing nourishment requirements. In other words, your baby will keep eating more and more. His capacity to fill up will continually surprise you, so make sure that you’re giving him a full belly before bedtime! Once our boys started eating solid food (on the pediatrician’s advice), we began offering them a small bowl of cereal just before the bedtime bottle. Fill that little belly with warm, nourishing food and your little one will have the “slow burn” to sleep longer at night.

Use A Nighttime Diaper

If you’re not using an overnight diaper for your little one, I have great news for you. This is probably the simplest sure-fire way to help the baby sleep longer at night. I’ve written an entire article on why diapers are important for baby sleep. Nighttime diapers are super-absorbent — probably three times as much as a normal diaper can handle — which means your baby’s bottom will stay drier for longer. That means more sleep for the both of you!

Dress Baby for Comfort

Along the same lines, dressing your baby comfortably (and appropriately) for sleep is essential. A clean set of soft pajamas (long sleeve unless it’s summer time) will help accomplish this. True, you can often put a baby to sleep in whatever they happen to be wearing, but a good set of sleepwear ensures warmth and comfort that might help go the extra mile. See our reviews of the cutest baby pajamas and sleep sets.

Prevent Early Wake-Ups

This past fall, we noticed one of our boys was waking up about an hour earlier than usual. We couldn’t figure out out! None of the other tips above seemed to help. Finally we realized that due to the daylight savings time change, sunrise came an hour earlier and sunlight poked in around the room-darkening shade, right onto our boy’s face. Another time we found that a child’s digital watch had an alarm that went off in the middle of the night. We’ve also had problems with barking dogs and noisy neighbors.

If you can find causes of early wake-ups like these and eliminate them, your baby is going to sleep longer. See our article on 7 reasons your baby woke up last night.

Baby Exercise During the Day

I saved my last tip for last, because this is probably the most fun way to help your baby sleep longer. It’s simple, too: wear him out during the day. Ever notice how a morning spent playing outside has your little one has him sleeping soundly for the rest of the afternoon? It works great playing in spring, summer, fall, or even winter. If going outdoors isn’t feasible, a high-energy indoor activity can do the trick. See our reviews of jumpers and activity gyms for some great toys for baby exercise.

With a little work, you can extend your baby’s sleeping hours, and reap all of the benefits by doing so. Good luck!