For all new parents, sleep really is the holy grail. As our tester’s friend and mother of two under two said recently, “At a time when you’d murder someone to get your baby to sleep through the night, the right sleep aids and cribs feel like a gift from heaven.”
Whether you have a non-sleeper, daytime napper who is wide awake at night, an early riser or a frequent waker, the issue of sleep is probably your favourite (or least favourite) topic of conversation as a new parent.
Our tester, a new mother, reviewed all of the products below, plus quite a few more that didn’t make the final list. Plus we also enlisted the advice and expertise of other new and more experienced parents to create a definitive list of what really works when it comes to establishing a good sleeping routine and settling your baby when it wakes.
We can’t promise the below items will lead to nine hours kip a night (the stuff of dreams, right?) but they’ll certainly help when it comes to encouraging better sleep habits.
Snüzpod3 crib luna: £199.95, Snüz
In our experience, nothing helps your little one fall to sleep and then sleep soundly like the feeling that their beloved parents are close by. No wonder that bedside cribs are gaining popularity and hands down the best of them all is the stylish and ultra practical SnüzPod3 Crib. Fitting flush with your bed, it features a lightweight, lift-off bassinet and a separate reflux leg, which slots in place at one end of the SnuzPod, providing a gentle elevation to help soothe and comfort your baby.
All the parents we asked to test this came back with extremely positive feedback, with many reporting longer sleeps and all saying their babies seemed calmed and more soothed once sleeping in the SnüzPod. The zip-down wall makes night feeds far more convenient and gives the closeness of co-sleeping while providing your baby with their very own safe sleeping space. Top marks.
Nuna leaf grow rocker chair: £200, John Lewis & Partners
For daytime napping, nothing beats the leaf grow rocker chair from Nuna. The welcome understated design is ideal for parents tired of all the brightly-coloured plastic they’re accumulating now they have a little one. Style aside, we haven’t met a baby yet who doesn’t fall into a happy nap once in the recline position. No batteries, cords or noise, all it takes is a small push to give your baby the feeling of being rocked in your arms.
Plus the soft organic jersey fabric can be easily removed and washed in the machine. Use from birth right up to 60kg. Our baby testers also responded really well to being fed in the leaf. Just lock the chair so it remains stationary.
GroEgg room thermometer: £14.50, Mothercare
A gentle nightlight and room thermometer in one, this sleep aid is very sensibly priced and will soothe even the most restless baby, while helping you to maintain a safe sleeping environment for him or her.
The colour-changing device allows you to see immediately if your little one’s room is the right temperature so you can adjust their sleep clothes or bedding accordingly. The perfect nursery room temperature should be maintained at between 16-20C and maintaining that will not only help your baby settle faster, but also may reduce the risk of SIDS, according to experts.
Sleepyhead Deluxe+ baby pod mariniere: £150, BuggyBaby
“Don’t forget to buy a Sleepyhead,” was pretty much every parents advice when our tester was expecting their first. And with good reason. The Sleepyhead is a snug, safe and comfortable pod for your little one to snooze in. It also acts as a place for safe tummy time, playing and even for nappy changes. But it’s the sleep aspect that really sells it. You can place it in your bed for safe co-sleeping or pop it into their cot.
Snüzcloud baby sleep aid: £29.95, Snüz
Super stylish and handily portable, this chic baby sleep aid from Snüz was truly a dream according to all our testers. It features four soothing sounds including pink noise; the new deeper sounding alternative to white noise, and heartbeat, to mimic that of pregnant mum's womb.
There’s long been research that shows babies respond well to white noise (we know many parents who have tried playing radio static to their babies at 4am in a desperate attempt to get them to snooze – some to great success!) and pink noise works the same way, covering all the frequencies that the human ear can hear, but with a smoother, more soothing sound.
The calming pink light is great for nighttime feeds and the Snüzcloud is easy to attach to a crib, cot, pram or car seat, making it great for daytime naps too.
Bluebell smart monitoring system: £299, Bluebell
When it comes to baby monitoring systems, the choices can be overwhelming. Plus if you’re anxious your baby isn’t sleeping safely (and what new parent doesn’t feel this way?) then little ones can pick up on this and find it harder to settle, as well as waking more often. Luckily, the new Bluebell smart monitoring system has been designed by parents, for parents. Apparently, it’s also Harry and Meghan’s choice for their new babe. The price is high but when it comes to ensuring your baby is safely sleeping, and the correct temperature, it’s one of the best.
Monitoring breathing, skin temperature, the baby’s position and any noises or cries they make, it automatically tracks your baby’s sleep and alerts parents when the baby wakes up via a wristband that can be linked up to the app. With up to five days of battery life (much more than most baby monitors) the connectivity works inside and outside the house, rather than depending on wifi.
Mamas and Papas petite compact cot: £89, Mamas and Papas
As we all know, getting the right bed (and mattress) are essential to a good night’s sleep, and it’s no different for your baby. Mamas and Papas petite cot is super compact, so you can fit it beside your bed or in an adjacent nursery. Our testers all found it much better for inducing healthy sleep patterns than a Moses basket and you can use it until your baby is around one years old (whereas most babies grow out of their Moses baskets after a couple of months).
Crafted from pine and sturdy engineered board, the two height positions of the adjustable cot base let you pick up your baby with ease and feel more safe than traditional dropside cots.
Mamas and Papas swaddle wraps: £25 for a pack of two, Mamas and Papas
Studies have shown that swaddled babies not only fall asleep easier, but also sleep for longer. This time-honoured tradition has been re-gaining popularity in Europe and the States in the last decade, but it’s something that’s done all around the world.
Dr. Rachel Moon, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP) – who also chaired the task force that authored the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)’s safe sleep recommendations, says: “If babies are swaddled, they should be placed only on their back and monitored so they don’t accidentally roll over.” She also suggests to stop swaddling at around two months old.
To mimic the snugness that babies feel in the womb during the third trimester, choose 100 per cent cotton swaddles if you can, like these Mamas and Papas ones. Easy to wrap, they’re machine washable and will feel soft on your baby’s sensitive skin.
BT video baby monitor 6000: £99.99, Amazon
Recommended by many of the new and experienced parents we spoke to for this feature – who agreed that getting the right baby monitor sorted out was key to ensuring that they approached bedtime with a calm and in control attitude that definitely led to their babies sleeping better and being more relaxed too, the BT Video 6000 is well-priced and reliable.
It features everything you need, including a 5” screen, temperature indicator, five different lullabies, remote control pan and tilt mechanism and sound level lights so you don’t freak out at every snuffle but are alerted to when your baby wakes or cries.
Purflo sleepsac 0-6 months: £35, Amazon
Sleepsacs are pretty much considered a requisite for newborn and young babies now that we are told to avoid placing blankets or anything near to a sleeping baby due to the risk of suffocation. PurFlo was designed by parents Gail and Paul Whale to focus on the best quality, breathable fabrics, starting with their iconic mattress and now encompassing a whole host of baby-friendly, safety-first sleep aids.
Their sleepsacs are multi-seasonal, ranging in sizes from 0 months upwards to 18+ months and will ensure your little one is kept warm without overheating. The colours are super chic too, from the giraffe prints to the moss green stripes and spots. Our tester reported her baby slept better in this sleepsac than in any other, perhaps thanks to the soft and snuggly jersey fabric.
Placenta Practice placenta encapsulation: Price on request, Placenta Practice
Throughout history, many cultures have eaten the placenta (also called placentophagy) and eating the afterbirth is common in the animal kingdom. It’s something that has become somewhat fashionable recently and advocates swear that health benefits include restoring the nutrients lost when giving birth, balancing moods and hormones in the mother and encouraging mother-baby bonding; all of which helps tremendously with creating a relaxing environment conducive to sleep for your newborn.
Placenta Practice has been created by Amanda Denton, birth doula and Phlebotomist (someone who specialises in the procurement of stem cells and cord blood, which can play a vital role in treating future illnesses) who has prepared placenta remedies for over 2000 women from all walks of life. They have a range of packages whereby they collect your placenta straight from the hospital, whip it up into easy-to-take pills and deliver them to you at home. Plus there are balms and tinctures, which are perfect for soothing mothers and babies alike. Good sleep and good moods all round guaranteed.
The verdict: Baby sleep aids
Our testers found that their babies slept best in the SnüzPod3, plus the zip-down wall meant night feeding was easier and more comfortable for mother and child. It’s a stand-out winner.
The Sleepyhead also deserves a “best in class” award and is definitely worth getting for the other benefits too, such as tummy time and its portable nature – making trips to the grandparents a whole lot easier.
When it comes to simple sleep aids, the Snüzcloud baby sleep aid was soothing and comforting on our 12-months-and-less little testers and the Mamas and Papas swaddles also deserve a mention for making night sleeps just that little bit longer!