11 best baby sleep aids
Sleep. Every new parent wants more of it. We've picked the products that really help baby settle faster and slumber longer
If you’re a new parent, or even the parent of a toddler and beyond, you find yourself talking about sleep a lot, specifically a lack of it. Whether you have a non-sleeper, early riser or frequent waker, sleep is an issue. Unfortunately there is, as yet, no magic, baby-friendly product guaranteed to give you 7pm-7am. But these sleep aids certainly help.
Our tester, a new mother the second time around herself, reviewed all of the products below, plus quite a few more that didn’t quite make the final list. We also enlisted the help, advice and expertise of other new and more experienced parents to decide which products actually can and do help to establish a sleep routine, settle baby on waking and encourage better sleep habits, therefore hopefully giving your little one (and you) a good night’s sleep.
1. Sleepyhead Deluxe+ Baby Pod, £120, John Lewis
Every parent we’ve spoken to who has used one recommends the Sleepyhead. It acts as a snug, comfortable, safe pod for baby to primarily sleep in but can be used for rest, play, tummy time and as somewhere to change your new arrival. Also a fabulous tool for safe co-sleeping, it can be placed in your bed, baby’s bassinet or cot. The covers are breathable, hypoallergenic and machine-washable (though it only comes with one so we’d recommend buying a spare). The pod is lightweight and portable, coming in its own travel bag. It’s recommended for ages 0-8 months but you can then purchase the Sleepyhead Grand, which takes you from ages 9-36 months. It’s not a cheap but you can't put a price on sleep.
2. Rorocare Lulla Doll Sleep Companion, £39.99, John Lewis
The brainchild of three Icelandic mothers, we think the Lulla doll may be the next big thing in baby sleep aids. Initially designed to help premature babies who often have to spend periods apart from parents, it gives the feeling of comfort and closeness by playing a real-life recording of the breathing and heartbeat of a mother at rest for up to eight hours, which helps children to fall asleep and stay that way for longer periods of time. The gender-neutral doll is machine washable (just remove the sound box first) and suitable from birth using the concealed Velcro straps that function as cot attachments. Our tester used it during the night and for naps and can report that, most noticeably during naps, baby slept for approximately a half hour longer than he would previously and awoke happily cuddling the Lulla doll.
3. Ewan The Dream Sheep, £29.99, John Lewis
Ewan has a huge fan base among parents who swear his gentle glow, soothing heartbeat and womb sounds calm and settle their baby. Our tester has used it on two children from birth, neither of which now goes to bed without Ewan. Ewan plays four different noises that are combined with the sound of a mum’s resting heartbeat, they’re recorded at a low base frequency, similar to the noises baby would hear in the womb, which is why they’re so effective. They automatically stop after 20 minutes so you’re not listening to him all night, though we found them quite relaxing for us too. For babies under 12 months, it’s recommended to suspend him from the cot bars using the Velcro strap or place beside a Moses basket.
4. This Works Baby Sleep Pillow Spray, £18, This Works
Our tester used a few spritzes of this gentle spray on her baby’s bedding every night for several weeks as part of a regular bedtime routine. She found her baby settled happily, slept peacefully and woke less than usual. We can’t guarantee this is purely down to the spray but the light, lavender-scented fragrance with vetivert and chamomile is so lovely and relaxing we’re sure it helps. It’s one hundred per cent natural, so no risk of skin irritation and is suitable for little ones from three months. We’re not sure a fragrance is overall as effective as a Ewan or Lulla but as part of a sleep routine, we’d recommend one.
5. Zazu Zoe Penguin: £34.99, Amazon
Our tester loved this penguin that is a gentle nightlight, wireless speaker and music box in one. It has five pre-set melodies – from white noise to nature - but you can also use it as a wireless speaker paired to your phone using Bluetooth. Each pre-set plays for 20 minutes but it also has a genius setting that activates when baby cries or it hears a noise, our tester found this worked as in the morning Zoe was playing lounge music when baby was awake in his cot. We loved that this product has a rechargeable battery and charges with a USB cable so no need to constantly buy batteries. The one negative is that even when fully charged Zoe only lasted a couple of days, however you soon get into a routine of plugging it in as you do your mobile phone. Zoe is available in grey, blue or pink.
6. ErgoPouch Cocoon Swaddle Sleepbag: From £35, JoJo Maman Bebe
Australian brand ErgoPouch is known for skin-friendly, natural sleeping suits. This new swaddle for babies aged 0 to three months allows parents to swaddle with arms in or out then converts into a cosy sleeping bag once swaddling is no longer suitable. Even when used with arms in, our tester noted that the flexible fabric allowed for small movements underneath so baby isn’t completely constrained. The pouch is designed to work with sleeping pods such as the Sleepyhead and it has a convenient two-way zipper, excellent for midnight nappy changes. It is available in three togs so you can use in any weather.
7. Bloom & Blossom Baby Sleep Bedtime Massage Oil: £16, Bloom and Blossom
Our tester tried out several massage oils and this one came out tops, it works in much the same way as a sleep spray relaxing baby prior to settling. Baby massage is widely recommended as part of a bedtime routine and this oil is ideal for use before sleep. It’s a blend of 100 per cent natural plant oils, ylang ylang, chamomile and lavender, it smells deliciously soothing and quickly absorbs so you can dress baby straight after use. Our tester found that baby fussed less, settling faster after baby massage with this oil than he would being put straight down to sleep and did have more peaceful nights. Suitable from birth.
8. Aden + Anais Classic Musy Mate Lovey: £19.95, Amazon
Our favourite security blankets, these from Aden + Anais are made from 100 per cent cotton muslin and babies love the touch of the silky trim. Super-soft and machine washable, the Lovey is the perfect comforter. As with all security toys, it helps if you hold it close to you before giving to baby so it has your scent, providing even more comfort. We recommend buying in multiples so you always have one to hand. These come in a range of animal-themed designs.
9. Little Aurelia Sleep Time Top To Toe Cream: £30, Aurelia Skincare
We were recommended Little Aurelia products by several beauty-expert parents. This is a luxury cream made using soothing and hydrating bioorganic botanical ingredients. It melts into babies’ delicate skin and the scent is comforting and relaxing, ideal for use before bedtime, it’s infused with lavender and is a great alternative to an oil for baby massage. It’s suitable for sensitive or dry skin and can be used from birth. Not that it affects sleep in any way, but the “woodland friends” illustrated packaging is also beautiful and you can check out the website to hear a “sleep time spell’ to recite - a lovely idea as children get a little older.
10. Gro-Hush White Noise Baby Calmer: £24.99, John Lewis
White noise in any form aids relaxation as it mimics the sounds heard in the womb. It’s used in a number of baby calming products but we rate this one for its portability. Just fasten the strap around your hand and hold the soft pillow against baby’s head – it’s pre-set at a safe volume for tiny ears and you can choose from three white noise options: mother’s heartbeat, rain or ocean waves. Our tester used the heartbeat setting when baby was increasingly difficult to settle (including after injections) and it really did soothe to a calmer, sleepy state. Comes in a handy carry case.
11. Summer Infant Hippo Slumber Buddy: £25 JoJo Maman Bébé
This little hippo projects a starry sky light display on to ceilings and walls. There are three colour options and a selection of five songs and sounds to play, including a heartbeat and lullabies. The sounds are great but what we most liked about this was the projector. Others we tested were very subtle and rooms had to be pitch black to see the light shapes but this was fantastic, all of the little ones we tested it on were spellbound, happy to relax and watch. It created a tranquil environment prior to sleep. With a choice of three volumes and 15, 30 or 45-minute auto shut-off, it’s a fab distraction technique. Suitable from birth.
The Verdict: Baby sleep aids
Many baby products come full of promises of sleep and restful nights, the ones chosen here genuinely do all help. If there were one product we’d recommend all parents buy it would be the Sleepyhead Deluxe. It’s the one that made the most difference to our tester and others. The Lulla doll is also a really exciting new product that definitely helps in terms of settling baby to sleep and sleeping for longer. We also suggest investing in some relaxing baby sleep products to use as part of a bedtime routine. Little Aurelia’s smell delicious and look fancy on your shelves but in terms of value for money, the Bloom & Blossom range is unbeatable.
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