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Essential Baby Sleep Power Tools EP 4

baby sleep power tools part 1

Raise your hand if you are or have been a new parent who is surprised at how hard it is to get your newborn baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. I thought newborns were like a loaf of bread, you carry them around and they’re cute and squishy and they just sort of…fall asleep periodically. (I was wrong about a great many things.) The truth is that for most of us, getting a newborn to sleep is enormously difficult. However it becomes vastly less difficult, when you embrace the Baby Sleep Power Tools.

I realize your time is limited so I’m going to use this graphic to indicate those podcast that are essential listening. Which is not to say you shouldn’t listen to all of them, but if cuts have to be made, don’t cut this one!

This is a huuuge topic so we’ve broken it up into two parts, this one will cover:

  • What are the criteria to be a Sleep Power Tool
  • YOU are the ultimate Sleep Power Tool (which gives you a great and terrible power)
  • Three Power Tools all parents of newborns should use
  • One Power Tool that some parents of newborns should use
  • A fantastic resource on sleep Power Tools – Dr. Harvey Karp (more on that here and here)
  • Which Power Tools are for newborns and which are for babies of all ages

Baby Sleep Power Tools is a 2-part series. Most of the tools discussed in Part 1 apply to younger babies (newborns up to 6 month olds) however Part 2 applies to all kids, including toddlers and preschoolers. You won’t want to miss out on this series so make sure you subscribe on iTunes so you get notified when the next episode is available (approximately 2 weeks from now!).

In the meantime let us know what you think in the comments below, or share a question or topic idea for future podcasts with us at podcast@preciouslittlesleep.com.

We are live on iTunes so please subscribe and leave a kind review! We’re new to this but have great plans and we hope you’ll join us.

Tally ho!


12 Comments


  1. Glorianna Fisher

    Thank you so much for taking the time to create these Podcasts! I was soooo unprepared to handle newborn sleep and the transition into infant and baby sleep. The warnings pre baby were not sufficient enough to encourage me to begin to help my baby sleep from the beginning.

    What started as the most difficult (and amazing) time of my life turned into the most enjoyable all around. Thanks to Alexis and her team my home is a well-rested and happy home.

    Power tools is brilliant and I will without hesitation recommend this to my friends with babies.

  2. Thanks for the compliments, Glorianna!
    ramping up to baby is difficult — I found myself either disinterested in the reading until after baby was born, or I just didn’t remember anything. And then the baby arrived and it was all “I need to read EVERYTHING NOW! ACK!”

  3. Great idea for the podcasts! Thank you for all the time and effort put into providing us with all this great info on your website and now the podcasts.

    Will you be discussing baby schedules? I have a 7 month old, falls asleep on his own, sttn 11 hours, and am wondering if you recommend a clock-based schedule (like naps at 9am 1pm and 4pm) or a flexible schedule based more on wake times. Right now, I go by wake time- putting him down for naps about every 2ish hours. My only concern is that because we go based on his wake times and because his naps are not consistent in length, the timing of his naps and his bedtime revolves around how long he slept/wake time length. A clock based schedule sounds nice to me because it would be nice to know exactly when to put him for a nap and easier to make plans, but at the same time, I understand that maybe that won’t work for a baby who is inconsistent in nap length and a little sensitive to becoming overtired. Any suggestions/thoughts/ideas? Thanks!

  4. White noise is by far our most reliable power tool. I highly recommend air cleaners as they do such efficient double duty filtering the air and making white noise. Even now that my daughter is nearly three years old, she sleeps with a HEPA air cleaner running in her room. The white noise helps her fall asleep, stay asleep and mask any noises from the rest of the family.

  5. Honestly, I disagree with about 80% of the advice you give in this episode, but mostly I’m annoyed by your disdain for practices you don’t like and by the contradictions in your reasoning. Don’t wear your baby too much while they’re sleeping, because that teaches bad habits that will be hard to break later, but do buy a pacifier and a mechanical swing because you can always wean them off it later? Extended babywearing has been used by cultures worldwide for millions of years, yet I don’t know any teenagers that need to be carried to fall asleep.

    Different approaches work for different people, and obviously not everyone wants to carry their baby around. That doesn’t mean that those of us who choose to do it the way humans have done it for countless generations are doing it “wrong,” and that it’s “better” to use modern plastic battery-powered devices.

    As for pacifiers and back-to-sleep, studies have been going back and forth on both issues for decades. Don’t assume that this generation’s findings won’t be contradicted in 10 or 20 years. I’m not saying “don’t put your baby to sleep on its back” or “don’t use a pacifier”, I’m just saying that the jury is still out on these things. Just a generation ago doctors were saying formula was superior to breast milk and that the science was clear. Don’t be so quick to buy into the hype of new research, especially when it goes against your intuition.

    There *are* some things that are KNOWN to decrease the incidence of SIDS, such as breastfeeding (which makes sense biologically, since it’s what we’ve evolved to do), and having baby supervised while sleeping (for obvious reasons). Meanwhile, mechanical swings, even when used correctly, have been linked to SIDS when they’re used unsupervised, and most of the manufacturers have even come out and said that they are not meant as sleepers.

    Some people choose to use them anyway, and that’s fine as long as they’re aware of the risks. But to advise people to introduce a pacifier early because it *may* prevent SIDS, then in the next breath suggest buying a swing to help them learn to fall asleep, right after saying that you shouldn’t let them sleep on your body too long because it teaches them bad sleep habits, makes no sense.

    • My read of your comment (which you will likely disagree with) is that you are a huge babywearer and you feel judged because I’m not a proponent of this technique for sleep. And I’m sorry if you feel judged because it is never my intention to judge somebody for something that works for them personally. If it works for you (and is safe) it works for me.

      But I do want to make two things really clear.

      1) If your child always or almost always naps while being babyworn you are setting yourself up for future problems. Full stop. Nap sleep is far more challenging than night sleep and babywearing teaches kids that the way they nap is:
      a) while moving
      b) being upright
      c) with Mom

      Gracefully transitioning out of this when they’re 9 months old is a challenge in the same way that making a souffle is a challenge. Most kids nap for 3-5 years so unless you intent to babywear for 3-5 years you should be worried about your exit strategy. 70% of parents go back to work full time within 6 months and nobody at the daycare is going to provide babywearing nap services for you. So unless you are part of the privileged few who can afford to stay home and babywear for all naps for years to come, my advice about not making babywearing a regular thing for naps is entirely on point.

      2) “As for pacifiers and back-to-sleep, studies have been going back and forth on both issues for decades. ”

      People often want to discredit science they don’t agree with by pointing to the fact that the current state of knowledge is different than it was 30+ years ago. And this CHAPS MY HIDE TO NO END.

      Science is constantly evolving. You do not ignore well-researched science of today because you BELIEVE that future studies MAY disprove the science of TODAY. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the worlds largest and most respected body of pediatric professionals, has looked at the ENTIRETY of research on pacifier use and THEY (not me THEY) have determined that pacifier use at sleep onset provides significant benefits for SIDS reduction.

      Similarly the data on back to sleep is UNAMBIGUOUS. More children are alive today because of this policy. Again none of this is my opinion – this is scientific fact.

      I encourage the use of pacifiers knowing that they often cause sleep problems down the line because the SAFETY BENEFITS far outweigh any sleep struggles that may (or may not) ensue.

      Does your intuition trump the well-reasoned and heavily researched opinion of the AAP and general medical community?

      No it does not.

      • Of course you’re entitled to give your personal opinion on your own podcast. But your conviction that babywearing during naps always leads to problems is clearly based on a limited number of experiences. Every baby is different, and many moms do not work, or work from home, or take more than 6 months off before returning to work, and many of them have very little trouble transitioning their toddlers to independent sleeping. I realize it’s not for everyone, but for many people it is ideal because most newborns sleep best while on Mom. Furthermore, I’ve heard of more cases where moms have difficulty transitioning their babies out of swings, so you’re not dodging the “bad habit” bullet that way, either. It comes down to a choice between doing what works now and worrying about changing it later, which may or may not be a problem, or torturing yourself now trying to find a “sustainable solution” so that you don’t have to go through that transition later. Many people choose the former approach.

        As for the science, you don’t have to explain the virtues of science to me. I have a degree in environmental science and have worked for several years in R&D and engineering. I’m not denying the value of research. But I have encountered the powerful effects of dogma and science-minded people’s unwillingness to question current theories, even though challenging accepted beliefs is at the very heart of the scientific method.

        In truth, I can’t really make an argument against back-to-sleep, except to point out that some pediatricians say that side-sleeping is fine, too, and I get annoyed when people insist that back sleeping is the ONLY acceptable type, especially since it can be hard to enforce on a baby that can roll over. So I’ll take back what I said on that count. I didn’t mean to suggest that stomach sleeping was preferable or even a good idea. But I have trouble believing that pacifiers are really worth the alleged benefits. Certainly I don’t advise people *against* using them, as parenting methods are very personal. My intuition goes only as far as it pertains to my baby, but I also do a lot of research on nearly every parenting decision I make. So when it comes to my baby, the opinions of the AAP, WHO, and other national and international medical institutions are certainly a factor, but on the rare occasion that my intuition disagrees with them despite the data, then yes, my intuition wins. That is the prerogative of every parent.

        That being said, I regretted making my original comment shortly after making it, as I was annoyed when I wrote it and now feel bad about trying to criticize your advice, since it really is your business what you want to recommend. So I do apologize for taking the episode personally and spewing bile all over your comment page. Feel free to delete both comments if you want. If not, I’m going to leave it at this – you can respond or not, but I don’t want to get caught up in a comment war – I’d rather just agree to disagree.

        • I can appreciate that. I’ve also made comments I’ve later regretted.

          We’ll simply have to agree to disagree on the science part. Yes Mom instincts have a role but when you overlook the heavily supported opinion of the largest and most respected body of pediatric medical specialists on the planet “because instincts” I think you’re making a poor choice. SIDS is the #1 cause of death of children under 1, not related to prematurity. And the AAP is the leading organization in understanding why it happens and how to prevent it.

          We’ll also sadly have to disagree on this, “But your conviction that babywearing during naps always leads to problems is clearly based on a limited number of experiences.”

          You may think I’m a big boob, you’re totally entitled to your own opinion. However the one thing I have is EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE. I guarantee you I’ve interacted, spoken with, Skyped, emailed, or otherwise engaged with 10,000 more families than you have. This blog gets 3-4M page views a year, I get tens of thousands of comments, skype with hundreds of families, answer thousands of questions on Facebook, etc. Feel free to disagree with my opinion for any reason you choose but I’ll disagree with your assertion that it’s based on limited experience.

          I do not have a medical degree or a PhD. But I absolutely have extensive practical experience with families and sleep. And I know full well how frequently people stall out getting babywearing babies to become independent nappers vs. swing babies to become independent nappers. And the swing trumps on every level. Hands down.

  6. Thank you, thank you for this podcast! I am so grateful for all the information in a format that I can take advantage of during my commute to and from work. I love that I feel like I am sitting with you all at a coffee shop talking about the one thing that consumes my every thought, my 4-month-old and his sleep!

    I am all over the place with his nighttime sleep location. As a newborn, he slept relatively well swaddled in the pack and play. When his reflux flared up and propping up the pack and play simply resulted in him sliding to the bottom, we propped in his boppy lounger in the pack and play and that brought him relief. Now that he rolls over, sleeping on the boppy lounger or directly in the pack and play no longer work. He wakes every hour or so. In the last few nights, I have begun to use the rock and play for nighttime sleep, a device he has not shown any interest in since he was a few weeks old, and it provides us a couple of 2.5-3 hr stretches. Do you consider the rock and play a “swing”? Does the rockaroo also fall under this category? I’d like to start trying to put him down drowsy but asleep and understand that the swing can assist with this, but I don’t have a Fisher Price of Graco swing and have been able to borrow a rock and play and a rockaroo. On the other hand, I don’t want to take a step backwards by not continuing to try to have him sleep on his back in the pack and play. In my sleep deprived state I bought the pricey DockaTot, thinking it might help him from rolling over and waking himself up, but I fear it will not do anything to calm his reflux. Do you have any experience with the DockaTot or similar device?

    Thank you again!

    • Hey Natalia,

      I think you’re in the midst of the “OMG THIS IS TERRIBLE” panic flail. AS a fellow reflux survivor I can relate 😛

      So totally normal. But we need to be careful about grasping for solutions and heading down paths that might not be as safe as you want. I know she’s not currently sleeping on the boppy but you never want a boppy in your child’s sleep environment. I know many people who use various padding or cushions to prop up refluxing kids but it’s a safety hazard. AND studies suggest that the angle achieved by the unsafe propping is ALSO ineffective for reflux.

      I don’t have personal experience with the DockaTot but I think it’s:
      a) $$$
      b) entirely unnecessary
      c) possibly hazardous

      (They claim the padded ring is breathable but there’s no real evidence of it)

      So I would return the DockaTot if you can. You definitely don’t want it in his sleep surface and it’s not helping anyway.

      The RnP can be a swing if the one you bought is motarized (they come with motors). Most don’t however in which case no, it’s not a swing. I would return the DockaTot and get a Graco if you can.

      But here’s the reality – he’s rolling over. So the ONLY way you can use one of these devices is if you can safely strap him in. Otherwise he should be in a crib with nothing else in it – no pillows, props, boppy, etc. So those are basically you’re options 😛

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