Cranky Baby Essentials Guide Part Two:
Get Your Baby to Sleep

Posted by: Maggie

As we prepare for baby number two, we’ve pulled out all our baby gear and reviewed all the registry recommendation lists to make sure we have everything we will need. In the process, we’ve reminded ourselves of what was the most useful to us and what we thought we’d need, but didn’t really use. So, I’ve put together this guide to share our knowledge with all the parents-to-be out there. I’ve split it into several categories of baby items and within each I’m sharing the “Must Haves,” “Nice to Haves,” and items that you can “Skip.” I hope you find this useful in prepping for your new baby!


Crib – Choosing a crib is about three things: style, cost, and safety. Style and cost are your personal choice, there are a lot of stylish cribs out there at a variety of price points. As for safety, I recommend reading Consumer Reports Crib Buying Guide.

If you don’t think you’ll want/need to use the crib for baby number two, you might want to buy a convertible crib. Convertible cribs come in a couple of styles converting from a standard crib to a toddler bed, and some will also convert into a full-size bed with a headboard and footboard. By purchasing a convertible crib, you can save yourself money in the long run by having a crib that can do it all

Crib Mattress – There are a lot of options when it comes to buying your crib mattress. It’s most important to get a firm mattress at a price you can afford. We like this firm mattress option from Sealy for around $100.

Crib Sheets – The baby’s crib only needs a fitted sheet. Bumpers and blankets can cause a baby to suffocate, so are unsafe and unnecessary for baby (see the Skip section below). Keep a couple extra sheets on hand for diaper leaks and other messes and a waterproof mattress pad under your sheet to protect your crib mattress.

Swaddle Blankets – Newborns sleep much better being swaddled. It reminds them of being tight and cozy like they were in the womb AND it keeps them from waking themselves up with their reflexively flailing arms. As I mentioned in my New Baby Favorites post, I’ve got some new Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets, which look like they’ll be great for swaddling. However, when Eleanor was a baby we just could not swaddle her tight enough with swaddling blankets to keep her incredibly strong little arms from breaking free. The best solution we found was the Snug and Tug. We tried a variety of other Velcro swaddling blankets, but found this to be the absolute best one. It was so much quicker and easier than folding a blanket ourselves and kept her wrapped up nice and tight so she couldn’t break free. As soon as we found this one, Eleanor started sleeping soooo much better, it made such a difference.

Pacifiers – This depends on your baby. Babies have a need to suck and some babies will happily take a pacifier to fill that need. Some babies will take any pacifier, some will only take one particular type of pacifier, and some won’t take a pacifier at all. Eleanor would only take the Philips Avent Soothie and then only used it for a few months. It’s best to buy a few different types and try them each out to see what your baby will like.

Books on Soothing & Sleep Training – Hands down the most helpful book (& DVD) we bought was Happiest Baby on the Block. Dr. Karp shows you exactly what to do to soothe your baby. Watching the techniques on the DVD is like magic. He starts with a screaming baby and calms them in seconds. It’s amazing! You MUST get this book!

Sleep training your baby really depends on your own parenting style and how you think your baby should learn to sleep. Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child is one of the most popular books as it goes through all the methods and leaves it up to you. Although, I found it disorganized and difficult to read, it was really helpful, and when we started sleep training (around 6 weeks) we used a method from that book.


Bassinet – If you plan to keep baby in your own bedroom in the first few weeks or months you’ll want a bassinet for that. There are a lot of different bassinets out there. The most popular option seems to be the Graco Pack ‘n Play with Bassinet. We had one with Eleanor, but found that it was just too big, and we only used it a few nights. When we starting looking for something for the new baby it was hard to find anything that fit our needs: smaller than a Pack ‘n Play, safe, and had good reviews. We finally ended up with the Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper, which met all our criteria, AND as I mentioned in my New Baby Favorites post  we were able to get it as a hand-me-down!

Glider/Rocker – We were gifted with a very nice Pottery Barn Rocker/Glider when Eleanor was a newborn. I used it all the time to rock and nurse her to sleep and we still use it to sit in for bedtime story reading. That being said, it’s definitely a luxury rather than a necessity. To nurse you just need a comfortable place to sit with your feet up. Your bed or living room couch will work just fine. That being said, a nice chair is a lovely addition to a nursery.

Sound Machine – Babies are used to a lot of whooshing noise in the womb from mom’s blood flowing and her heart beating. Something that replicates that sound while drowning out other household sounds is very helpful to get a baby to sleep (especially when trying to get them to nap during the day). When Eleanor was a baby we just used a humidifier in her room that had a noisy fan. This time around, we’ve purchased the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine. We haven’t tried it on baby yet, but it sounds good to us and it had good reviews. Other options are sleep sheep/teddy bears that play heart beat sounds and white noise. But I haven’t read many good reviews of those and most seem to shut off after a certain amount of time, when what you’ll really want is to have something that plays all night to keep baby asleep.

Baby Carriers & Slings – When Eleanor was a baby we had the classic Baby Bjorn, but Eleanor didn’t really care for it, so we didn’t use it very often. This time around, since I have Eleanor to take care of, I think I’ll have a lot more times when I’ll need to hold baby and have my hands free at the same time. So, I plan to try out a sling. We haven’t purchased one yet, but I’ve read good things about both the Boba Wrap and the Moby Wrap.

Rockers & Swings – We have a Graco Swing that Eleanor loved. It would put her to sleep in no time. She took a lot of naps in it when we couldn’t get her to nap in her crib, at least until she was nine months old, maybe longer. The only problem with it is that takes up a lot of space. My sister has given us her Mamaroo Bouncer, which my nephew used for a few months. It’s nice because it takes up less space than the tradition swing, but it didn’t seem to rock quickly enough for sleeping in once Jack got bigger and I’ve heard similar reviews from other moms, who only found it useful for the first two months or so.


Crib Bumpers and Blankets – Most crib bedding sets come with a fitted sheet, crib skirt, bumper, and blanket. But these sets are really just for decorative purposes. As I mentioned above, a baby can suffocate on blankets and bumpers so experts recommend only having a fitted sheet in a crib. I have seen some breathable bumpers out there, but I really don’t see the point.

Baby Monitor – Here’s the way I see it, unless you have a big home and your baby’s room is far from your bedroom, you will hear the baby crying when it needs you. We live in a fairly small apartment and did when Eleanor was a baby. Her room was next to ours separated by a bathroom. We had absolutely no need for a monitor. And I really doubt that anyone does. In all honesty, you do not need to hear every little sound your baby makes and doing so will keep you from sleeping and relaxing while baby is asleep. But if you’re a worrier and are going to want to check on the baby if you can’t hear or see him, then go ahead and get yourself a monitor. There are all sorts of fancy ones on the market. I’ve heard good things about the Motorola Video Monitor.

In case you missed it…


UP NEXT…Part Three: Feed Your Baby

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