Getting Rid of Baby Sleep Crutches

Sleep expert tips to help you break bad habits at baby’s bedtime.

Getting Rid of Baby Sleep Crutches

You just gave birth to your perfect little baby and you’re finally coming home--together! You're a family now, and totally in love. But then all of a sudden, the poo-poo platter hits the fan, and the advice starts rolling in about baby’s sleeping habits:

“Don't rock your baby!”

“Don't give her a paci, she will become dependent on it!”

“Let her be. You want her to be independent and not attached to your hip.”

I'm sure you have already heard at least one of the three statements above. Well, I'm here to tell you: it’s all bull-crap.

During the first 4 months of your perfect baby’s life, you are hereby ordered to snuggle, smooch, hug and bond. Get to know each other. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and midnight dates together. Absorb the moments when those five tiny little fingers wrap around your one index finger. Take in every millisecond of love, laughter and happiness.

Because eventually it actually does become time to start thinking about baby’s sleeping habits. And all those sleep-assisting baby shower gifts you went gaga over for the first 4 months will start to haunt you. Like that crib mobile or a battery-operated vibrating chair. You begin to rely on them in order to get the baby to sleep. You start stocking up on batteries and buying 80 pacifiers. You know, because you inevitably lose one--or 79--of them. And you realize that you--not baby--have created a sleep crutch.

Below are the four most popular sleep crutches in the making for babies between 4-8 months and some tips on how to easily phase them out before they become a reliance.


Why start?

A pacifier is highly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for the first several months of your baby’s life to minimize the risk of SIDS.

Now what do I do?

If you’re noticing that your baby is becoming dependent on the pacifier, then it's time to get rid of it. Meaning, if during sleep the paci falls out and she awakens in hysterics searching for it, end this habit now. It might seem like nothing at the moment, but down the baby road, you will become the re-plugger.


Why start?

A swaddle mimics the coziness and secure space that the baby was accustomed to in the womb. That's right mama, baby needs his or her original home re-created while getting adjusted to there new one outside.

Now what do I do?

Know your baby! Meaning, some children hate being swaddled and some love it so much they can't fall asleep without it. If your baby is resistant to the swaddle, don’t keep attempting. Try a sleep sack, such as GroBag, since the swaddle can only be used for the first few months anyway. The Merlin Suit is fabulous because it’s an in-betweenie--its light-weighted so it gives the coziness of a swaddle but offers the roominess of a sleep sack.

3. BATTERY OPERATED PRODUCTS (Swing, Mobile, Vibrations, Sleep Sheep, etc.) This excludes a white noise machine – that is a must-have in the city!

Why start?

Sometimes you need to give your hulk-looking arms and glutes a rest.

Now what do I do?

Once your baby is 4 months+, these battery-operated contractions are not needed. Constant motion depletes your consolidated sleep by keeping your brain and body in a semi-awakened state. In order to achieve sleep to its fullest restorative properties, the optimal sleeping place should be without any kind of stimulation or movement (like a crib.).

So what if you got lots of these battery-operated products as gifts? Recycle! Meaning: find new ways to use them to benefit your baby instead. Mobiles are a great example: I don't recommend them in the crib since they are a distraction for sleep and are too stimulating. The crib should be serene with just a firm mattress and a fitted sheet. Instead, move that mobile to the changing table. You and your baby can have oodles of giggle time while changing their diaper or even during massages. And those vibrating or bouncy chairs? These are great for propping up baby when eating (excluding the vibrational option).

4. HUMAN SOOTHING PROP (i.e. Rocking, The Boob, Sleeping on top of you…)

Why start?

Just kinda happens...

Now what do I do?

There are various ways to transition from you being the prop to something that will give you back some "me-time" and still be a healthy transition. However, these vary based on your particular soothing situation. Since I don't want to bore you with the many variations that might not pertain to you, let's use an example of the most frequent sleep crutch: the feed-to-sleep association.

Fully weaning off night feedings depends on two things:

1. The OK from your pediatrician

2. Is your baby ready?

You will know if your baby's ready to drop a night feeding when you offer him the bottle or boob and he takes one sip and falls asleep instantly. If he’s gulping, he needs to increase his caloric intake during the day.

No matter what, try to remember to enjoy your baby, love yourself and your partner.

And PS: Got a toddler that’s keeping you up all night? Check out our Sleep Crutches: Toddler Edition!

Photography by Kristy May Photography.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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