Baby Sleep Training in Fall and Winter

baby sleep training fall winterThe season of change is upon us, and with it are a number of factors that might affect your baby’s sleep habits. In the United States we have daylight savings changes, which move the clock forward in springtime and backward in fall. Gaining an extra hour this fall seems like a great idea, right?

Until you consider the fact that circadian rhythms have a major impact on sleeping patterns, which might have your little ones waking up an hour earlier in the morning. Ouch! This article covers some of the seasonal changes in fall and winter, and how you can use them to help establish or continue healthy baby sleep habits.

Daylight Savings and Baby Bedtime

For me, the daylight savings time change in fall is a scary thing.

Baby sleep daylight savings time change

Sleeping after the time change

Essentially it means that sunrise will come an hour earlier, and so will the songs of the despicable birds that congregate outside of our house. Both sunlight and natural noise conspire to wake my boys in the morning. We combat this by using room-darkening shades with heavy curtains, and providing white noise in the nursery with a crib soother or sound machine.

Daylight savings is also an excuse to practice one of the most powerful techniques in baby sleep training: the early bedtime technique (EBT for short). The days are already getting shorter, so it’s a natural fit. The EBT will surprise you with how well it works in this transition period. Start adjusting for it now, so it’s not a shock when the clocks roll back.

We try to put our boys to bed about an hour after dinner, which  means we finish eating, play for half an hour, and then start getting ready. Dinner is the kickoff event for our nightly bedtime routine. Ever since the boys started eating solid food, we’ve focused on getting them a good nourishing dinner to help them sleep longer without waking up hungry.

Dressing Baby for Colder Weather

Long sleeve pajamas for baby

Break out the cute pajamas!

So long as you address it, the colder weather is on your side when it comes to baby sleep training. It’s an opportunity to put your baby into cozy long-sleeve pajamas and a swaddle blanket or baby sleep sack. These have a few advantages:

  • Keeping your baby warm overnight in case the temperature fluctuates
  • Providing the touch sensation of something warm and soft against their skin
  • In the case of swaddlers and sleep sacks, keeping baby from rolling around too much and waking up with a leg stuck in the crib’s bars.

The soothing white noise of central heating is a plus as well; it’s hard to imagine that a soft flow of warm air into the nursery would have anything but a positive effect.

Indoor  Baby Activities and Exercise

One thing that sucks about the changing weather is that it keeps you inside. Gone are the days when you could send your little ones forth to splash and play in the heat. There’s no better recipe for great naps and nighttime sleeping. When they’re cooped up indoors in the fall and winter, sometimes the babies have trouble sleeping just because of pent-up energy. Here are some ways to both engage your children and get them a bit of exercise and/or activity before bedtime:

  1. Play time on a soft mat or baby activity gym on their own, or even better, with you
  2. Tummy time for newborns who haven’t started crawling (not too soon after eating!)
  3. For crawlers, practice pulling up on sturdy things (couches) and lateral “cruising” while holding on
  4. Constructive activities like building blocks for babies of any age.
  5. A nice warm bath will do wonders – see our 7 tips for a perfect baby bath.
  6. Chasing, tickling, and other things that make them laugh

Preventing and Handling the Inevitable Sick Baby

One of the worst things about fall and winter is the onset of cold and flu season, which is ramping up even as I write this. Every year it seems like Halloween is the “infection point” for our family, after which we pass around colds for the whole month of November. A bit of planning ahead and general germophobia will hopefully reduce the chances of dealing with a sick baby this fall:

Settling Down for Bed

Something about the colder weather makes me really want to snuggle a baby in a soft, overstuffed chair and read a book. There are plenty of good reasons to read to your baby; fall and winter are a great opportunity to engage in this “indoor” activity. Play time, settle down time, and a solid bedtime routine are the critical elements for good baby sleep habits in these changing seasons.

9 Baby Sleep Tips You Won’t Like Hearing

9 baby sleep tips you won't want to hearWe all want our babies to sleep through the night as soon as possible. When they’re waking up frequently overnight, or too early in the morning (or both), the whole house suffers. If you’re serious about baby sleep training, it will mean taking steps that, frankly, you’re not going to enjoy. You don’t want to hear these things, but you need to. Read on.

1. Change your own routine

When your baby’s sleep schedule doesn’t match your own routine (meals, work, day care, etc.), it can be rough. You like waking up at 7, but baby’s always up at 6. Something’s gotta give, and it might be easier to change your schedule (governed by you) than your little one’s (governed by circadian rhythms).

2. Get a special diaper

A baby that sleeps overnight will wet his or her diaper 3-4 times. If that bothers them, especially if it wakes them up, you need to break out the heavy artillery. A standard diaper usually isn’t going to absorb this much while keeping your baby comfortable. You might need to pony up for overnight diapers, which are more expensive.

On the bright side, this is an easy problem to solve. And as a bonus, the nighttime diapers are good for road trips, too.

3. Wait three months.

One common mistake is starting baby sleep training too early. If your infant is less than 6 months old (adjusted age) and doesn’t seem to be sleeping for longer stretches, this may only be an exercise in frustration for you. Certainly in the first 3-4 months of life, your baby really shouldn’t sleep more than 5 hours or so without waking up to eat.

Wait for, and watch for, the signs that your baby is ready: sleeping longer stretches (even at nap time), self-soothing, and falling asleep without a lot of fuss at bedtime are all encouraging signs.

4. Wean from the late-night bottle.

baby-bottleWith our oldest daughter, we had a bit of a setback: we started soothing her in the middle of the night with a small bottle. She’d wake up once, drink it, and go back to sleep. It was almost sleeping through the night, so we didn’t mind. It’s so easy to fall into that routine.

Our pediatrician was the one who encouraged us to wean her from the late night bottle. It took about a week, and that week was rough! In the end, though, we got more REM sleep and that’s a good thing.

5. Put the baby in the crib

baby-sleep-in-cribMany parents bring the baby into their own bed to sleep at night. It’s easier for the baby to fall asleep here, easier and faster to soothe him, too. Unfortunately, this may be an untenable practice when it comes time for baby to sleep through the night.

Break this habit, even for naps! We all love to snuggle our little ones while they sleep — it’s one of the best parts of being a parent — but part of sleep training is putting the baby down. Your little one needs to learn to self-soothe, and to sleep in his or her own crib.

6. Devote more effort to bedtime

Once your baby learns to fall asleep on his or her own, it’s tempting to rush that process. You see those droopy eyes and want to tuck the baby in right away, so that you can do yesterday’s chores or go to bed yourself. The idea that 20 minutes of routine — warm bath, dry-off, new diaper, clean pajamas, bottle, book, bed — stands in the way can be daunting.

So we skip things. We skip the bath or the final diaper change or the clean pajamas. Sometimes there’s a price to be paid for this: the disruption in routine can prevent your baby from settling down and getting a good night’s rest. It’s hard, but it’s almost always worthwhile, to devote more effort to these little things.

7. Throw money at the problem.

So many times when a baby woke up too early or too often, we later talked about the cause, and how it could have been prevented. Maybe it was too bright in the nursery at 6 a.m., or the damn neighbor was dragging his garbage cans out after midnight. If only we could have found the pacifier in the dark!

Some of these issues can be addressed by just throwing money at the problem:

  • Buy extra pacifiers. Once you determine your baby’s favorite, you can never have too many. Why not buy 10 of them, so you always have one when you need it?
  • Find the best blanket. Most babies are happy with a $3 blanket, but if you want the best, go for Aden+Anais muslin blankets. They’re light, breathable, and super-soft.
  • Deck out the nursery. Go for the heavier curtains and the more expensive room-darkening shade. Put in the sound machine and the projection night light.
  • Get the video baby monitor. This always seemed like an extravagance, but being able to see and talk to your baby without getting out of bed seems like it’s worth the investment.

8. Bring in outside help

Many of us don’t want to admit when we’re in over our heads. It can feel like a personal failure when you can’t solve some issue with your baby, like the fact that she’s waking up once every 2 hours. You must be open to the idea of getting advice, because you’ve read most of this article!

Go ahead, ask for help. The first person we reach out to is our pediatrician. He’s super-patient with us, and he’s offered some really good advice. Other parents who have older children can offer useful tips as well. You might simply confide in one of your friends, invite her over, and ask, “What am I doing wrong?”

9. Let the baby cry

This is one of the hardest things to do. Sometimes, the things you need to do to help your baby establish healthy baby sleep habits are going to make them unhappy. When a baby cries, it really tugs at the heartstrings of both parents. You want to run in and snuggle them and soothe them in your arms, right?

Sometimes you have to be tough. You have to leave the room after putting the baby in the crib, or let him cry when you’re weaning that late-night feeding. If you’re the more tender-hearted spouse, put in the earplugs and tag out for a night. Let someone else be strong.

I’m not an advocate of letting the baby cry for hours without intervention. We like the approach of going in every 15 minutes or so, reinserting the pacifier, and then walking out again. That way you know the baby’s OK, but you still send the right message.

Helping Your Baby Sleep Better

For a while, it might seem like you establish healthy sleep habits for your baby at the price of your own rest and relaxation. If it were easy, this wouldn’t be one of the most common problems reported to pediatricians. Put in the effort. Don’t forget the little things.

Go read Baby Sleep Training 101, our comprehensive collection of baby sleep tips & advice, if you need more help. Good luck!

Blankets for Baby Sleep

blankets for baby sleep

Image credit: abardwell on Flickr

Finding blankets for baby sleep can be a lot of fun, but it’s also harder than it sounds. Your baby’s needs as far as blankets go change from newborn to infant to toddler stages. There are safety concerns. There are colors to coordinate. There are genders to gently remind strangers about until your baby’s hair comes in. Blankets can also play an important role in your baby’s sleep habits. In this article we’ll talk about blankets for babies at the newborn, infant, and older baby stages.

Blankets for Newborns

For newborn babies, especially in the crib, safety is the first concern. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a fairly simple guideline when it comes to what should be in the crib: a correctly-sized mattress, a fitted sheet, and the baby. The one exception is if you swaddle your baby using a blanket or a velcro swaddler. This is actually a good idea, as it provides both warmth and a feeling of snug security as your baby drifts off.

Swaddling Blankets

square muslin swaddle blanketSwaddling is a skill that every parent should learn, and learn well. The ideal swaddle is snug, uniform, and won’t come undone during your baby’s nap. If you want the walk-through, see our article on how to swaddle a baby. One key element to swaddling well is to choose the right blanket.

When our little ones were still newborn-sized, I always preferred the square swaddle blankets, because you could fold them down to make an even triangle. It makes a good starting point and seems to provide better angles.

You also want a relatively thin and lightweight blanket; otherwise it’s too bulky when you make the required folds for swaddling.

Velcro Swaddlers

summer infant velcro swaddlersOne way to ensure a uniform, tight swaddle every time is to use a velcro swaddling blanket, which is shaped kind of like a peapod. You put your baby’s legs in the bottom, wrap both “wings” around him or her, and secure it in place with two or three velcro pieces. These are nice because you can do them one-handed. Also, even the most determined little baby usually can’t kick out of them because of the secure velcro closure.

When our boys were little, we had about four velcro swaddlers in rotation, a primary and a backup for each one. That way you always have one; in those still-fuzzy first few months of twin babies, I’d occasionally have a moment of panic when I couldn’t find either one for my assigned twin.

Blankets for Older Babies

carters muslin baby blankets

Carter’s muslin blankets

As your baby grows and your fear of SIDS slowly passes, you’ll become more open to the idea of letting your baby take a blanket to bed. Technically, the only things in the crib should be mattress, fitted sheet, and baby, but let’s be honest: stuffed animals and pacifiers and an extra blanket or two are going to sneak their way in eventually.

Now is actually a good time to make a lightweight, loose blanket part of your baby’s bedtime routine. Nothing is better for this than the breathable muslin blankets by Aden + Anais. They don’t come cheap (you can expect to spend about $10 per blanket) but they’re the softest and most lightweight blankets ever. Our kids just love them, and I’m not even worried if they drape it across their faces when they go to sleep. Carter’s also makes soft muslin blankets that are a bit less expensive.

In fall and winter, a warmer blanket might be desirable. Adorable hand-sewn flannel or fleece baby blankets can be found on sites such as Etsy.

halo sleep sack blanketSleep Sacks or Wearable Blankets

At some point your baby will start kicking out of the swaddle or just be too big to fit into the velcro swaddler anymore. It’s a bit of a sad day, but there are good alternatives. We transitioned our boys to sleep sacks, also called wearable baby blankets. These are single-piece garments, often cotton or flannel, with sleeves and a zipper that zips closed toward the bottom. There’s a lot to like about them:

  • The body of the sleep sack keeps your baby’s legs warm but lets them move freely
  • You can unzip and change a diaper without taking the baby out of the sleep sack.
  • It fits over your baby’s onesie or pajamas
  • They promote healthy hip positions while the baby’s sleeping
  • Sleep sacks still seem to limit movement; they prevented our boys from rolling around too much.

Your Baby’s Blanket

As your baby grows and becomes more independent, self-will becomes very important. They like to have things a certain way, and they learn about the concept of personal property. In other words, everything is “mine.” It’s a good time to give them a special blanket to call their own. One that they’ll use to cover up dolls or teddy bears during play time, and take to bed every night.

Etsy is a great place to find unique baby blankets that were made by hand in the U.S.A… one of our favorite stores there is Snug As A Bug Baby Shopwhich sells baby blankets for  boys and girls, and even some gift sets with a blanket and a matching painting for the nursery wall.


Our Book: Baby Sleep Training 101

baby sleep training 101

Are you ready to teach your baby to sleep through the night consistently? Baby Sleep Training 101 is the comprehensive guide to baby sleep training, and you can have it for  $1.99 through September 30th!

Baby Sleep Training Fundamentals

Written for parents of infants aged 3 to 24 months, this book covers the fundamentals of healthy baby sleep habits, including:

  • Baby sleeping patterns by age
  • Sleeping in the crib
  • Establishing a bedtime routine
  • Feeding baby for sleep

If you’re a visual person, you’ll enjoy our Periodic Table of Baby Sleep, a colorful depiction of the key elements to teaching your baby sleep through the night.

Download it now for just $1.99!

Who Should Read Baby Sleep Training 101

Our book is written for the parents or primary caregivers of babies less than 24 months of age, and we think it would be most useful to families with:

  • Newborns or young infants (0-4 months), to establish safe, reliable sleep habits
  • Babies 4-12 months old that aren’t yet sleeping through the night consistently
  • Baby sleep problems, including early wake-ups, trouble falling asleep, not sleeping in the crib, etc.

Baby Sleep Training 101 also makes a great gift for parents, nannies, or babysitters who might appreciate a little help!

Table of Contents

Here’s a preview of what you’ll learn about in our book.

Chapter 1. How to use This Book
Chapter 2. Why Baby Sleep Training?
Chapter 3. Babies and Sleep Patterns
Chapter 4. The Periodic Table of Baby Sleep
Chapter 5. Good Baby Sleep Habits
Chapter 6. Feeding Baby for Sleep
Chapter 7. Baby Sleep Safety
Chapter 8. Handling Baby Sleep Problems
Chapter 9. References and Further Reading

Download Now, Read Later

We published Baby Sleep Training 101 as an e-book in PDF format, so that you can read it on:

  • Your home computer or laptop
  • Your Kindle, Nook, or tablet
  • Ipads, iPhones, and most Android devices

We’ll also send it to you by e-mail so that you can get it from anywhere.

buy our book now

Secure Processing with Gumroad

We use Gumroad to process all book orders. It’s a quick, easy and secure process. We never see your credit card information. You’ll be reading the book in minutes.

Handling Baby Sleep Problems

There’s a special section on common baby sleep problems and how to address them, including:

  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Sleeping in the crib
  • Naps and sleep schedules
  • Trouble staying asleep
  • Early morning wake-ups
  • Reflux
  • Baby Colic
  • Teething
  • Cold, Flu, and Sickness
  • Sudden sleep setbacks

The Latest Infant Sleep Research

Thanks to daytime employment, we have access to all of the current research by groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). We leverage that in Baby Sleep Training 101 to summarize what researchers have recently discovered regarding:

  • The prevalence of baby sleep problems and their effect on infant and maternal health
  • Current safe sleep recommendations from the AAP
  • Long-term evaluations of the possible benefits or harms of baby sleep training
  • The effectiveness of following sleep training practices

At the end of the book, we include references and suggestions for further reading. Don’t wait until you’re completely sleep deprived…

Buy This Book Now!

7 Rules for Toddler Sleep Training

toddler sleep training

Image Credit: Flickr user dherholz

Teaching your baby to sleep through the night is one of the hardest — and ultimately sweetest — things you’ll accomplish as a parent. The good news is that, whether or not you succeed, your baby will eventually learn to sleep at night. The bad news is that now you’ve got a whole new animal on your hands: a toddler.

Although the sleep training challenges that toddlers bring are a very different sort, a lot of the ways to address them are the same. The game-changer is that your toddler has discovered free will. After some success with my own three toddlers, I thought I’d share these ten simple rules for toddler sleep training in case they help you.

1. Stick to the Bedtime Routine

It’s a bit harder to keep toddlers on any kind of routine, just because their days are so filled with wanton chaos. At least, that’s the way it seems with our twins. At night, though, we have a prescribed routine that begins before bedtime:

  1. Warm milk bottles. Yes, we still warm the milk even for toddlers. Someone once remarked “Oh, you do? We’re just too busy for that.” Guess what? Everyone is busy. Anyone who’s not is retired or dead. But we still take one minute and fifteen seconds to warm up the milk, which helps ensure that the kids drink it all (and activates the sleep-inducing proteins in it, too). 
  2. Upstairs for diaper change and pajamas. The boys get a nighttime diaper, and our daughter goes potty. Everyone puts on clean, comfortable pajamas. This is an important part of the routine; the soft feel of the clothes helps signal that it’s bedtime.
  3. Reading bedtime stories. Even if it’s late, we spend 5-10 minutes each night with each toddler reading a couple of our favorite bedtime baby books. We practice word repetition, and identifying animals and objects. The boys only really got into this when they turned two, but once they learned to sit still long enough, we made it part of the routine.
  4. Blankies and bed. We tuck them in bed with their favorite Aden+Anais blankets, put in their music box, turn off the light, and leave the room.

2. Keep Them in the Crib

We transitioned our daughter to a toddler bed when she was about two years old. She’s mature for her age, and had two little brothers on the way, but honestly I think it was too soon. For a few months, we had trouble keeping her in bed. She kept getting out and coming downstairs, or (once we gated off the door to her room) crying for us at the gate.

The crib is a safe and contained place for a toddler to sleep as long as he can’t climb out of it. We lowered our boys’ cribs as much as we could. In the last go-round, we moved their mattresses to the floor (they’re just tall enough to form a barrier with the base of the crib), effectively making it super-deep. As long as toddlers are in the crib, they really have just two choices: (1) go to sleep, or (2) cry a bit and then go to sleep.

3. Block Light and Sound

Our toddlers are good sleepers, but they’re also easily woken by errant noises or (as happened this morning) bright sunlight. The problem is that toddlers are usually excited about being awake and playing with their toys. They understand that if they cry enough, you’ll come get them up, and they can play. So the key is to prevent such wake-ups as much as possible.

We use room-darkening shades and heavy curtains to block out sunlight, and have a fan to provide the steady background hum that drowns out noises.

4. Offer a Soother of Some Kind

Until recently, we used a pacifier as the last touch that comforted our toddlers as we left the room at night. It also worked great as a soothing tool, for unexpected wake-ups. Once we had to wean our babies from the pacifier, however, we couldn’t do that any longer. Luckily, we found a reasonable replacement in the Playskool Glo-Worm. It’s small, cuddly, and lights up / plays a little lullaby when you push the belly.

We made sure to present our toddlers with these glo-worms as part of the “taking the pacifiers away” ceremony. Since then, we’ve used them in the same way that we did the pacifiers: offering them only in bed, as we’re leaving the room, and making sure the boys can find them if they wake up unexpectedly at night.

5. Keep the Early Bedtime

I admit that we’ve let the bedtime slip occasionally over the summer, because the days are longer, we’re playing outside, or going on trips, etc. There are plenty of excuses. We’ve found, though, that our toddlers do better when they have a consistent (and relatively early) bedtime. Usually about an hour after dinner ends. Yes, they’re capable of staying up later, but sometimes they end up a bit crankier the next day. And they usually don’t sleep any later.

6. Wear Them Out

Toddlers, as you probably have realized, have boundless energy. They can run and play circles around us for hours without breaking a sweat. The more energy you can burn off, the more willing your toddler will be to fall asleep when it’s time. This is especially true for the afternoon nap. Some of the best ways we’ve found to wear our toddlers out include:

  • Playing outside in our yard or a park where they can roam and play somewhat freely
  • Swimming or water play with a baby pool, water table, or sprinkler. One of our 3 keys to summer baby sleep.
  • Taking walks around the neighborhood, either in the stroller or (if we’re adventurous) walking on their own.
  • Backyard play on the swing set or their ride-on toys (see this article on the best ride-on toys for toddlers).

7. Make Sure They Sleep Enough

Sometimes our toddlers fight naps, or refuse to fall asleep at night. It’s often about that discovery of free will. They would often rather stay awake and have fun, and they realize that by crying a lot, they just might get it. We try to be firm, because we (as parents) know that toddlers really need their sleep.

Our boys, at two and a half, need about 14 hours per day: a 2 hour nap and 12 hours overnight. When they don’t get it, they’re cranky and short-tempered and fussy. No one wins: not the toddler, and certainly not the parents. Knowing this, we put our children’s needs first. We usually don’t make the 3 p.m. birthday party (smack dab in the middle of nap time). If we’re visiting friends or relatives in the evening, we keep an eye on the clock and leave before it gets too late. No matter how much we and the toddlers would like to stay.

There’s just something to be said for the soft, content sigh of a toddler settling down into his bed. It’s priceless.

Best Baby Mobiles for Cribs

Best Baby MobilesOne important item for soothing and entertaining your little one in the crib is the baby mobile. Here, we’ll talk about the benefits of crib mobiles and review some of the best musical, black & white, and organic baby mobiles.
Benefits of Baby Crib Mobiles
What Is the Best Baby Mobile?
Musical Baby Mobiles
Black and White Baby Mobiles
Organic Baby Mobiles

Benefits of Baby Crib Mobiles

Baby mobiles are a great addition to your nursery. Here are three good reasons why you should have one:

  • Soothing baby to sleep. A musical mobile can be part of your bedtime routine, signaling your baby that it’s time for sleep.
  • Safe baby entertainment. If you need to put your baby down to answer the phone or pick up around the house, mobiles offer a wonderful source of entertainment.
  • Stimulating development. Research suggests that bright colors and engaging music can help stimulate your baby’s sensory and cognitive development.

What Is the Best Baby Mobile?

We’ve put together a Slideshare presentation on the benefits and considerations when choosing a crib mobile for your baby.

Musical Baby Mobiles

Most (but not all) musical mobiles play sounds or music to help entertain and soothe your baby. This comes in two forms: wind-up and battery-powered. The most common complaint I hear about the wind-up ones is that they don’t play for long enough – usually only 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The battery-powered ones often play for longer periods of time, but they obviously mandate batteries. By this point you probably wish you held stock in Energizer or Duracell, don’t you? It might be worth having one of each kind.

Fisher-Price Precious Planet Projection Mobile Fisher Price Baby Mobile
Reviews: Projection Baby Mobile
Buy this Mobile Now
  • Soft, colorful animal friends from around the planet
  • Plays a full 20 minutes of music and nature and heartbeat sounds
  • Includes a remote control

Baby Mobile Review:

The #1 bestselling baby mobile on is two products in one: a musical baby mobile and a projection night light for the crib. The canopy below which the plush animals dance and twirl catches the night light projection, keeping it close enough for your baby to see and focus on.

When your baby gets older, you can remove the canopy part and now it’s a crib soother with a night light that projects to the ceiling. And the music plays for 20 minutes! No wonder this is the bestseller.

Tiny Love Classic Mobile Classic Musical Baby Mobile
Reviews: Musical Baby Mobile Reviews
Buy this Mobile Now
  • A classic developmental mobile to enrich cognitive and emotional growth
  • Colorful sliding beads on the arms that move while the mobile rotates
  • 20 minute continuous play of melodies or nature sounds
  • Built-in night light behind the smiling pony on the mobile base

Baby Mobile Review:

I love the products from Tiny Love, and their Classic Baby Mobile is no exception. The appearance is eye-catching: black-and-white discs support colorful dangling animals including a duck, a bunny, and a pony. The mobile base attaches securely to the side of the crib, where three easy-to-press buttons allow you to choose between the classical melodies and nature sounds to soothe your little one to sleep.

The moving parts of the mobile can be removed, after which the base can serve as a cribside night light and music player.

Tiny Love Sweet Island Dreams Mobile Island Musical Baby Mobile
Reviews: Musical Baby Mobile Reviews
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  • Island theme whose animals move in multiple directions
  • Soothing night light
  • 20 minutes of continuous music

Baby Mobile Review:

Another great mobile from Tiny Love, only this is the “island dreams” version. The form and function are similar to Tiny Love’s classic mobile. This mobile has multiple dimensions of movement for the island pals, and also plays continuous music.

Three puppet-like island friends–a giraffe, bird, and monkey–dangle from the branches and move to the music, captivating your baby’s attention.

Zutano Owls Musical Mobile Owls Musical Baby Mobile
Reviews: Owls Baby Mobile
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  • Individually handcrafted in knit with embroidered details.
  • Fabric arm cover included
  • Plays Brahm’s lullaby

Baby Mobile Review:

One of the most unique baby mobiles is from Zutano, a maker of some of the cutest baby pajamas I’ve seen. Their musical mobile plays Brahm’s lullaby while four little owls spin around to the sound of it. How cute are they!? This is a bit on the pricey side, but it’s one of the most unique and colorful baby mobiles I’ve come across in putting together these reviews.

The Zutano mobile plays Brahm’s lullaby, which I just love. You can also turn the music off and just run the mobile.

Black and White Baby Mobiles

Black and white baby mobiles are quite popular these days. The thinking is that because babies’ color vision doesn’t mature until around 4 months of age, the black-and-white contrast on a mobile is more likely to get their attention. Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly as many options for black and white crib mobiles, but I found two that I really like.

Baby Boom I Luv Zebra Crib Mobile Black and White Stim Baby Mobile
Reviews: Stim Black & White Baby Mobile
Buy this Mobile Now
  • Rotates and plays a lullaby
  • Wind-up so no batteries required.
  • Adjustable arm fits most crib rails

Baby Mobile Review:

This whimsical and soothing mobile is black, white, and pink. It coordinates with the “I Love Zebra” collection, featuring 100% polyester plush zebras and hearts. You wind up the mobile, and then it rotates slowly while playing a lullaby. This combination of movement and sound will keep your baby’s attention but doesn’t require batteries, which is rare for baby gear these days.

Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile Black and White Stim Baby Mobile
Black and White Stim Baby Mobile
Reviews: Stim Black & White Baby Mobile
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  • Stimulate visual activity and encourage early motor skills
  • Introduces baby to high-contrast graphic toys for early visual and multi-sensory development
  • Features contrasts objects of bright color with bold black-and-white designs

Baby Mobile Review:

The award-winning Stim Mobile is one of a kind. It features vivid color and bold black-and-white images: Simple-to-complex images stimulate early visual activity and pre-reaching movement.

There are black and white patterns for the first few months, then bright colors and eye-catching pictures to use as your baby gets older.

One reason this mobile is so popular is its ingeniously simple design. The mobile includes hanger with attachable arch and 20 images that you can swap in and out at will.

Simply put, this is the best black-and-white baby mobile I’ve seen.

Organic Baby Mobiles

If you’ve already invested in organic bedding sets, clothing, and sleep sacks for your little one, you probably want the same natural materials in a baby mobile. Organic mobiles are harder to find, but Kids Line makes one with deer that’s cute and well-reviewed.

Kids Line Organic Willow Musical Mobile Willow Organic Baby Mobile
Reviews: Willow Organic Baby Mobile
Buy this Mobile Now
  • Fabricated from 100% pure organic cotton
  • Suspended deer slowly turn to the soft music of Brahms’ lullaby
  • Attaches to most standard-size cribs with an included universal suspension arm

Baby Mobile Review

The Willow Organic baby mobile from Kids Line is made from 100% pure organic cotton materials. These little deer spin slowly around above your baby to the tune of Brahms’ lullaby.

According to the reviews, these deer are a bit darker in color than they appear in the photos.

Why Baby Keeps Waking Up

why baby keeps waking up

Original Image Credit: mcguirk on Flickr

Few things are more frustrating than when your baby keeps waking up at night. There have been a few times in our parenting career that this seems to happen with one of our kids. Maybe it’s one wake-up a night, maybe it’s five. Either way, we don’t wait patiently for the issue to work itself out. We take action.

We find the problem, we do something to fix it, then we evaluate to see if it worked. You can, too, if you’re here because your baby keeps waking up. Let’s get started.

What Wakes Babies Up?

There are countless reasons that your baby might be waking up at night, but if it becomes a habit, you’re probably looking for a common cause. We can usually narrow it down based on your baby’s age.


If your baby is waking up every 2-4 hours, that’s normal — they need to do that just to eat, not much you can do about it. If your newborn’s waking up every 30 minutes, though, and you’re sleepless and zombie-like because of it, we have a problem. With infants I usually look for the big three:

  • Hunger. Newborns are driven to eat almost as much as they’re driven to sleep. The urge to fill their bellies is near-constant, and it grows faster than you’d think possible. It might be that your newborn just isn’t getting enough to eat at feedings. There are a few ways to figure this out; to get started, see my article on feeding babies for sleep. Otherwise, go to the next one.
  • Digestive discomfort. Gas, bubbles in the tummy, and other forms of digestive discomfort are the next place to look. Especially if you witness your baby grimacing or twisting in the crib, suggesting a bellyache. It’s not surprising that your baby can wake up from this. See my article on gassy babies for some help.
  • Lack of routine. It’s also possible that your newborn’s routine is all screwed up. This happens sometimes; they confuse night for day and don’t realize they’re supposed to be sleeping instead of playing at 2 a.m. Establishing a bedtime routine is critical for teaching your baby when it’s time to sleep for the long stretch.

Older Babies

Babies older than 6 months usually have the ability to sleep through the night. When they don’t, there’s usually a reason for it — some stimulus that has them waking up in the wee hours of the morning.

  • Wake-up habits. If your older baby is waking up once in the middle of the night and needs a bottle to get back to sleep, this is common. The downside is that, even when your baby is capable of sleeping all night, his or her little body thinks it needs to wake up to eat. That’s reinforced when you give a bottle at that middle-of-the-night wake-up. Eventually, you’ll have to bite the bullet and wean the both of you from it. 
  • Teething. Babies usually cut their first teeth between 3 and 6 months, and they come in (with agonizing slowness) over the next year and a half. This ends up being a major reason that older babies keep waking up, because teeth grow at night. See How to Help a Teething Baby for more on this topic.
  • Wet Diapers. If your baby’s drinking 6-8 ounces of warm milk at bedtime, all that liquid has to go somewhere. Ordinary diapers aren’t enough to hold it all, leaving you with a wet and unhappy baby. Fortunately there are heavy-duty diapers designed to meet the demands of these overnights; for more see my article on the importance of diapers for sleeping.

Other Reasons Babies Wake Up

These are the common things to watch for, based on my conversations with other parents and experience teaching my own little ones to sleep through the night. There are other, less common causes, which merit listing here in case you’ve exhausted other explanations:

  • Temperature. Being too hot or too cold can wake babies up; this seems more problematic in the heat of summer or the frigid cold of winter. Of course you should make sure your baby’s crib isn’t in the direct line of a heating or cooling duct or element.
  • Random noises. Barking dogs, garbage trucks, and inconsiderate neighbors are often causes of unexpected baby wake-ups. We’ve also found toys and watches that seem to go off in the middle of the night, too. The best you can do is offer some white noise from a crib soother or sound machine and hope it covers the cacaphony.
  • Nightmares. There are times when one of my little ones woke up, not just crying but scared and/or upset. It was obvious they’d had a bad dream, because a few minutes of comforting and reassurance had them back asleep again. If you know how to prevent bad dreams, I’d sure like to know it. But fortunately they’re pretty rare.

What other things have woken your babies up in the middle of the night? Please leave us a comment!



Weaning Baby from the Pacifier

weaning baby from the pacifierA pacifier has been central to establishing healthy sleep habits for our babies. If you read my article on pacifiers for sleep training or enjoyed my review of the best baby pacifiers, you know this already. But there comes a point when your child gets old enough that it’s time to take the pacifier away. This is a sad time, because you’ve come to love it almost as much as they do.

Our pediatrician recommended doing this by age 2, a milestone our twins have just reached. My personal opinion is that two years is almost too old — our boys are stronger, louder, and more independent than our daughter was when we took hers away at around 20 months. And they loved their pacifiers.

Weaning your baby from the pacifier seems like a cruel thing to do, but it’s a necessary part of their development. The good news, if you’re planning to make this happen, is that it’s not as rough as you think it’s going to be. Here are a few steps that will help.

1. Begin Reducing Pacifier Use

We start by limiting our little ones’ pacifier use. In short, it’s only used for bedtime, and we take it away first thing in the morning. We make sure they don’t get a hold of one throughout the day, which isn’t easy. We resist the urge to give it to them at the fussy time of the evening, or in the car.

If they need it to fall asleep, or wake up and need another one, we give the pacifier to them. But we make it clear that it’s for bedtime and nothing else.

2. Explain and Celebrate Taking the Pacifiers Away

We spent a day collecting all of the pacifiers in the house and putting them into a ziploc bag. We explain that because they’re BIG BOYS they have to give up the pacifiers, so that other babies can use them. We emphasize the point by putting the last two pacifiers into the bag, and then putting it away up in a high cabinet.

3. Offer a Replacement for the Pacifier

replacement pacifier

Playskool Gloworm

Your little one will do better if you provide some sort of replacement for the soothing comfort that a pacifier offers. We chose a Playskool Gloworm, a soft and squeezable soother that the babies take to bed with them. When you squeeze its belly, the face lights up and a little lullaby plays for about 30 seconds.

These were good replacements for pacifiers because they’re comforting and entertaining, soft, but not really chewable. So we don’t have to worry that they’ll take it as a literal replacement.

Don’t expect your little ones to be fooled. One of ours recognized right away what was going on, and he cried. The shiny new gloworm didn’t really do much for him.

4. Brace Yourself and Be Strong

There will be a few rounds of crying, but be strong. Our boys took an hour or two of crying to fall asleep the first couple of nights. Once or twice we had to go in because they’d thrown their Gloworms on the floor.

But it got better rather quickly. They still seem to miss the pacifiers, and they slept less (taking longer to fall asleep, and waking up earlier) but now we seem to be getting back into a routine. It’s hard that we can’t offer them a pacifier to help them sleep longer in the morning, but we get by.

Whatever you do, make sure that your baby doesn’t find a pacifier somewhere around the house and start using it… because then it’s back to square one.


Pacifiers for Sleep Training

pacifiers for sleep trainingPacifiers happen to be one of my favorite baby products. It’s amazing how such a small thing has become so critical in our day-to-day routine with the babies. Sure, they’re great for handling fussiness or teething discomfort, but pacifiers truly become invaluable when it comes to sleep training.

Whether it’s for soothing the baby to sleep at bedtime, or handling unexpected wake-ups, I can honestly say that pacifiers have enabled longer and more consistent baby sleep for all three of our kids. We probably wouldn’t have survived without them. And when we had to wean our babies from the pacifier, we lost a powerful sleep training tool.

Newborn Pacifiers

Soothie newborn pacifier

Soothie Newborn Pacifier

Our newborns all seemed to prefer the Soothie pacifier, a strange-looking but highly effective pacifier that they tend to use in most hospitals. The Soothie is designed to mimic the shape and feel of a mother’s nipple, and therefore it presumably doesn’t interfere with your baby learning to nurse. They’re a bit unwieldy, however, and between that and a newborn generally not being very strong yet, this pacifier tends to fall out a lot.

Will it work for sleep training? Sure, but you won’t really be able to do any sleep training in the first couple of months of life. At that stage, newborns eat, sleep, and poop in 2-4 hour cycles. The most important thing you can do with regard to sleep training is get your baby accustomed to falling asleep in the crib on his or her own. Getting into this habit only gets harder as your baby gets older and louder.

Pacifiers at Bedtime

One of the most effective ways to teach babies to sleep through the night is to establish a bedtime routine, and the pacifier is an important part of that. For us it’s always the last step, the final touch of comfort after we tuck them in bed before we leave the room.

Giraffe pacifier for sleeping

Wubbanub Giraffe

There are a few benefits to this:

  • It quiets the baby (or babies, in the case of twins) from crying for you as you leave. This reduces your temptation to go back in and soothe the baby another time.
  • The comfort of the pacifier acts as a sort of proxy for your presence to calm the baby. There’s that 30-second period when a baby first gets a pacifier and is so happy he or she can’t think of anything else… the perfect time for you to slip out.
  • The feel of the pacifier becomes, by habit, something your baby expects and associates with falling asleep. They learn that the pacifier is the last thing they need.

The pacifier is an integral part of our babies’ bedtime routine, and I hope it becomes part of yours, too.

Handling Wake-Ups with Pacifiers

Another part of baby sleep training is how you handle wake-ups. There are a number of reasons that babies wake up at night, but more often than not, it’s hunger. When you feed your baby at this middle-of-the-night waking, it reinforces the habit. Your baby’s little body thinks that it needs to wake up at that time to eat, and so it does.

baby pacifier clip for sleep training

MAM pacifier clip. This one stays on!

This is a perfect opportunity to use the pacifier as part of your baby’s sleep training. First, you offer less milk at that late-night feeding, cutting it in half for the first couple of nights, then in half again. Then, you offer only a bit of water for two nights. Then, you offer just the pacifier (sometimes you can dip this in water to make it more appealing).

For this to work, you need to make sure there’s a pacifier available and easy to find. Once our boys were over 6 months old, we began using a pacifier clip at night. We also kept spares on our dresser, just in case the clipped one had been pulled off and thrown.

Avent nighttime pacifier

Avent Nighttime Pacifier

We also kept spares on our dresser, just in case the clipped one had been pulled off and thrown.

A third option is to keep a spare pacifier in the crib near your baby’s head, especially one with glow-in-the-dark handles like the Avent Nighttime Pacifier. It might seem like going overboard, but every time your baby finds the pacifier on his own and goes back to sleep, this thing pays for itself!

Pacifiers for Baby Sleep

You’ll truly come to appreciate how important pacifiers are for your baby’s sleep patterns when you have to take them away. In my article on weaning baby from the pacifier, I discuss what you’ll have to look forward to when you do this: a baby that has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and just staying happy in general. On the bright side, I have some tips in there for how to make the transition go smoother.



Toddler Wake-Ups from Two Year Molars

toddler teething wake upsOur boys have been good sleepers since about five months of age, when the baby sleep training techniques we employed finally paid off. Suddenly just before their 2nd birthday, they started waking up at night, crying and near-inconsolable. Strangely, they both refused a pacifier. This is odd because they love their pacifiers — probably sensing that they’re going to be taken away soon — and normally won’t sleep without them. There were a few other strange things we’ve noticed:

  • Runny noses. These showed up right after we’d been outside and in public for a few days, so at first we worried about a cold.
  • Slight fever. I noticed this when getting them up from a nap, and didn’t think much of it.
  • Fussy wake-ups. Now that I think about it, we’ve noticed a few unexpected wake-ups in the middle of the night, though usually the boys go back to sleep on their own.

These are all classic symptoms of when a baby is teething, but they had all of their teeth already. Or so I thought! It turns out that children get their second molars between the ages of 20 and 33 months. These so-called two year molars are teething’s last chance to torment your little one.

Why Teething Causes Wake-Ups

Teething has always been the silent (or not-so-silent) menace when it comes to baby sleep training. It seems like whenever you finally get your baby sleeping for good stretches at night, he or she starts cutting another tooth and it’s back to square one. There are good reasons for this: teething is painful, it makes eating, drinking, and using the pacifier uncomfortable, and the reason it often disrupts sleep is that teeth grow at night. Nature’s diabolical when it comes to disrupting your baby’s sleep habits.

Help Your Teething Toddler

Last night, when our older boy woke up crying at around midnight, he was almost inconsolable. That’s how I knew it wasn’t a nightmare, because picking him up and soothing him had no effect. The pacifier was unwelcome, too. All he really wanted was to go back to sleep, so that’s what we did: laid him down gently, tucked his blankie in around him, and told him “night night.”

We thought about Baby Orajel, a topical ointment that saved us countless times when the babies were teething, but abstained. I’ve read that teething gel should be avoided at this age, because toddlers can gnaw at the numbed area enough to create a sore. Instead, there are a number of other things to try:

  • A warm, wet washcloth. A cold one works too; you can even stick them in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • A pacifier that you’ve run under cold, cold water
  • Classic frozen or refrigerated chew teethers
  • Frozen waffles, which are soothing to gnaw at and also help fill little bellies.

The only good news is that, once this passes, your little ones won’t face the problem until their adult teeth start coming in. And then all you have to worry about is the tooth fairy.