Whether you are expecting a baby, already have a young baby, or are entering the toddler and preschool years, you’ll likely feel the need to buy necessary and optional products over the first few years. From swaddles to bottles, sleep sacks, and toddler clocks – the baby contraption market is full of options for parents to choose from. While this is great (someone has thought of everything), it can be overwhelming for parents to know what is necessary and what is not. It’s my hope that this baby gift guide will help you purchase what you truly need.
As a baby sleep consultant, parents often ask me what my recommendation is for various products on the market, many that promise better sleep. Likely there is also questions about what is necessary to get through the first year, as baby develops and enters various stages. Many parents have a support system that are looking for gift ideas for birthdays or holidays. How great would it be for grandma to give a needed item, instead of a toy that your kiddo will lose interest in 3 months down the road?
I’ve put together a comprehensive baby gift guide of my recommendations for the most important items from child, newborn to toddler. If you are hoping to sleep train your baby in the near future, these are likely items you would need to get started anyways.
I recommend that all families invest in a great sound machine. You will want to look for a few things when making your selection: does it have true white noise (not music), is the volume adjustable, and is it going to hold up for several years?
As a baby sleep consultant and mom, I have two “go to” products when it comes to white noise. My first pick is the Hatch Rest. I love its multi functionality as a sound machine, night light, and time-to-rise. You can find it here.
My second pick is the Yogasleep Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine. It’s very simple and will last forever (mine is going on 3 + years). You can find it here.
For travel, I recommend the Yogasleep Hushh for Baby Portable Sound Machine. This sound machine is small enough to fit in your diaper bag, can be charged with a USB cord, and used without being plugged once charged. This was a lifesaver when my daughter would take naps on the go in the stroller and we still use it for travel. You can find it here.
One of my top recommendations for newborn sleep is to swaddle your baby. This gives baby the feeling of snugness that they get in the womb and keeps them from waking from their moro reflex (startle). I only recommend that you swaddle baby until they are 8-10 weeks old. If your baby starts to roll on their side or back, you must discontinue use immediately.
My favorite velcro swaddle is the Halo. It is so easy to utilize during those exhausting first weeks and baby is unlikely to break out of it. They are also designed to keep baby’s hips free, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. You can find the Halo swaddle here.
You can also swaddle your baby in a blanket. Lulujo offers a super soft and versatile muslin swaddle blanket that can also be used as a nursing cover, stroller cover, changing pad, or simple blanket. You can find them here.
When your baby has reached 8-10 weeks old and/or starts to roll, it is time to transfer to a sleep sack. Sleep sacks are multipurpose by keeping baby warm at night while still safe, being a positive sleep association, and preventing crib climbing for older babies. Sleep sacks come in various materials including muslin, cotton, and fleece, all which offer different levels of warmth depending on season and environment. Halo is one of my favorite sleep sacks and can be found here.
If you’re looking for a muslin, light as a feather sleeping bag, check out Aden + Anais. They are super soft, incredibly light weight, and have some precious patterns. You can find them here.
There are so many wonderful benefits of babywearing during the first few months (even years) of your baby’s life. Baby carriers support baby’s natural posture, reduce crying and provide soothing, strengthen the bond between baby and caregivers, and provide a convenient place for baby to snooze during the newborn days. If you are pregnant and already have young children at home, this is a MUST to maintain normalcy in those early postpartum months.
Lillebaby offers a traditional baby carrier, which provides fantastic back (lumbar) support, can support baby facing inwards or outwards, and is all-weather to keep baby cool or warm during changing seasons. This carrier is a must and can be found at one of my favorite local stores, Clothes Pony & Dandelion Toys. You can find their baby product information, including the Lillebaby carrier here.
If you are looking for a different style of carrier, a ring sling may be a style you want to try. I recommend the Maya Wrap ring sling because of its material (100% cotton), customizable fit (no more guessing and buying), and its ease of use. Plus, it’s pretty darn impressive to look at. You can find the Maya Wrap ring sling at Fort Collins children’s store, Clothes Pony & Dandelion Toys. Find their baby products here and if you are local, stop in so the lovely staff can help you try on all of their carriers. And while you’re there, they have SO many fun toys and clothes you’ll want to add to your own baby gift guide.
Black Out Blinds
As a baby sleep consultant, one of my best tips for improving your baby or toddlers sleep is to create total darkness during times of rest. This includes night sleep, to avoid pesky early morning waking, and during naps. Our body’s circadian rhythm is very much driven by light and darkness. Any amount of light early in the morning, is enough to trigger your child’s brain that its time to get up. Naps are inevitably short or not great quality without restricting light.
My #1 recommendation is Blackout EZ Window Cover. They provide 100% blackout, are easy to install with only velcro, and can be ordered in custom sizes. Learn more about them here.
Toddler and Preschooler Anxiety Tools
Often parents come to me when their toddler or preschool age child is suffering from not only sleep disturbances but also significant anxiety surrounding bedtime or the night. I always encourage parents to respect their child’s fears, even if they seem ridiculous as an adult, and to utilize mindfulness techniques and tools to practice calming anxiety and worry.
Rose and Rex offer a fantastic “Calm Mind Kit,” which contains everything you need to introduce mindfulness and meditation to your child in a playful way. This is appropriate for children ages 3 + and includes a few toys, and a deck of Calm Mind Activity Cards that highlight how to use the toys in a variety of meditation, movement and breathing exercises. I find that this kit helps children self-regulate and build confidence. You can find the kit here.
There are also tons of great books on the topic, as well. If you’re in Northern Colorado, Old Firehouse Books has a wonderful children’s section for readers of every age. Find out more about them here.
Finding Restful Sleep
If you’re finding that your baby or toddler is not sleeping well, regardless of adding white noise or blacking out their bedroom or everything else on this baby gift guide, I suggest really diving deep into the logistic of their sleep. How is baby getting to sleep? Are you feeding, rocking, or holding to sleep? If your toddler holding you hostage in their room night after night? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you likely need to change your child’s sleep habits. You will then find the tools I recommended above, complimentary to your child’s newly found sleep.
Dropping a few hundred bucks every six months when your baby outgrows their weighted sleep sack, or a whopping $1,500 when they get too big for their self-rocking crib, is a pricey set of training wheels, especially when you consider that you’re really just treating the symptom and not the cause. Teaching your baby the skills needed to fall asleep on their own really is the cure-all for their nighttime woes.
And the last thing I’ll include in this baby gift guide is the gift of sleep. It’s really the best gift anyone could give new parents. I offer gift certificates for my services. Contact me to learn more!