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Newborn Essentials

Nourish Birth Newborn Essentials

There are so many newborn products on the market and it can be overwhelming for new parents to narrow down the list when everything is so cute. Here’s a basic list of newborn essentials so you can maximize your budget and filter through baby products that are most necessary for your newborn baby. Plan ahead so you can put any of these newborn essentials on your baby list registry and can avoid sending your partner or a friend to the store after Baby arrives!

Sound Machines

True, pure white noise is scientifically proven to help babies and children’s brainwaves when waking to lull back to sleep and sleep deeper.

The Homedics White Noise Sound Machine is what I commonly see parents using as their white noise sound machine. It’s super portable which makes it easy for on-the-go (great to have rechargeable batteries) however there is an included adapter when you don’t want to use the battery-operated feature, and the size fits well in your diaper bag. Use the pure white noise setting only because it helps baby’s brain waves settle back to sleep due to the higher frequency. Don’t use ocean waves, water sounds, or crickets, or intermittent sounds of any kind. It needs to be as loud as a vacuum if you want it to be effective at all so don’t bother buying a white noise machine if you are going to play it quietly. Did you know that you’re trying to replicate the in-utero experience during this fourth trimester? The sound of your blood when your baby was inside you was very loud.

The Sound+Sleep SE machine contains a high fidelity speaker with timers, street, and nature sounds. As much as I love the soothing waterfall played during the day (yep, I have this machine), I actually fell in love with this machine because it grows with you – there is white noise for babies (higher pitch freqency), and pink and brown noise for transitioning to toddlers and for adult brainwaves.

This tiny white noise machine is portable and can attach to Baby’s car seat or stroller for when you’re on the go so you can leave your other white noise machine in the nursery. I love this one and it has great volume despite its small size.

The Baby Shusher is a must for parents! To be clear, this is not a white noise machine and it shouldn’t be used in place of one, but I have to throw it in this category as it’s a personal favorite, and all the families I introduce it to LOVE this – it actually shushes! It helps lull Baby to sleep and can be used in conjunction with a white noise machine playing in the background for when you first put Baby down to sleep – whether they’re a newborn you’re settling, or an older baby or toddler you’re comforting through a teething spell. It will also save your mouth and cheek muscles from hurting after shushing and your partner will love this tool, too.

Hatch Baby Rest Night Light and White Noise Sound Machine: This is my favorite white noise machine because it doubles as a night light, it’s loud enough, and it can be customized with various settings you design yourself. For example, when you want a new color with nursery songs during the day, you can click on one of your top 5 settings you previously created or you can choose a new hue and dim it all together via the Hatch mobile app. So when you’re nursing in a chair and then Baby is falling asleep, you can use the mobile Hatch app to change whatever setting it’s on to the red color for sleep (read further about lights and melatonin) and to the white noise setting – all by the push of a button on your phone, so you don’t have to get up while feeding Baby just to turn on the sound machine that’s all the way across the room. The Hatch white noise machine features a time-to-rise alert, and you can customize the brightness by dimming the red baby night light as well as by setting the programs to turn off and on automatically based on your family’s sleep schedule. During the day you can play with the other fun colors! It includes a toddler lock feature as well.

Nursery Lights

Did you know that red light is the only light that does not inhibit melatonin which is essential for sleep? Read more about Baby Night Lights and Better Sleep. There is a common blooper when choosing a nightlight and this article I wrote explains about various colors of lights and their different wavelengths which inhibit melatonin, and the correlation and evidence on disrupting sleep. Read it here before choosing your nightlights.

Lumie Bedbug Light: A multi-purpose bedtime light which features a low blue light, while still producing a white/peach colored glow. Lumie Bedbug Light is non-inhibiting without having to use a red light in the room while reading or brushing teeth. This baby night light also includes a sunset mode option which gradually darkens the room, dimming after bedtime over a period of 15 minutes. This is perfect for toddlers and older children as well.

Battery-Operated Electric Candles are beautiful, glow like real candles, and create a calm, cozy environment for bedtime. These are my favorite electric candles as their flames actually move and dance. They transform your home into cozy-feel-goodness, and YES, I have these at home, too!

Also, rechargeable battery chargers are a one-time, small investment and perfect for the bathroom in place of the main light at night, or reading area. Not only are you improving your child’s sleep, you’ll all wake less, and you’ll save money on your energy bill! Totally worth it. Update: I’ve found the Panasonic rechargeable batteries work better than the AmazonBasics brand.

This durable, Red Gummy Bear Baby Night Light is cordless, portable, and squeezable to turn on/off. It also has a sleep timer of 1 hour.

Red Fairy Lights are an effective, adorable solution when used in a lockable Kilner jar as a portable baby nightlight.

Greenic 0.5W Plug-in Light Sensor LED Red Night Light: This 2-Pack Red Night Light is mini-sized, and effective for hallways and bathrooms. It can be turned upside down to see less of the LED light. It’s bright enough but also dim enough for your nighttime feedings, quick wakeups for diaper changes, or toddler bathroom trips.

Humidity & Room Temperature

Your baby can wake if they’re thirsty or too hot, and learning to control and regulate the temperature and humidity is important for that extra sleep cycle (you’ll both get). Read this guide regarding the amount of humidity and temperature for a newborn’s area vs. a toddler’s area. This is important to know if you have an older child as the humidity levels and needs change with the age of the child, and it does vary. In addition, my article on Humidity and Temperature for Sleeping Babies and Children explains everything you need to know about setting up a safe sleep environment as well as the correlation between humidity, room temperature, and SIDS/SUIDS.

Humidity thermometers measure both humidity and the temperature of the room.

Diffusers

Diffusers mist cool air to keep the room slightly humid but have the ability to contain essential oil. Some diffusers can double as your red night light. A favorite diffuser for a smaller room is URPOWER’s Red LED Night Light Aromatherapy Essential Oil Humidifier/Diffuser which holds 300ml of water. It requires no filter for the GMO-free, pure essential oil. You just add a couple of drops of GMO-free essential oils directly in the basin like chamomile and lavender which are calming and effective for sleep. Again, only use the red light setting. You can also dim the brightness of the red light. Its wood grain cover is beautiful and it’s safe as it has a waterless auto shut-off feature so when all the water evaporates, it shuts off. I find babies and children of all ages sleep more soundly with a diffuser as the it helps with breathing. I wake up with a less stuffy nose myself! In my own experience of caring for babies as a Certified Newborn Care Specialist, babies who sleep in a room with a diffuser on regularly have boogies less often! A diffuser should really be used in any room where any human is sleeping. But I’m sure pets benefit from them, too!

I can’t live without my Pure Enrichment PureSpa XL Diffuser which has two misting settings and the ability to use it without the light display, or with the light rotating various colors. You can even choose one of the colors at the full brightness or at it’s dimmer hue. On top of all of that, it has a safety auto shut-off feature, you can add essential oils to it, and it holds 2,000ml of water! This larger tank will still be misting even when the sun comes up.

Another diffuser I also own and love is the TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier because it has a very informative LED Display with a Humidistat, and you can change the range of the mist level with three different settings. The 1.06 gallon tank (that’s over 4000ml of water!) also has a safety auto shut-off feature.

Crane Humidifiers are large, cool-mist humidifiers, not a diffuser. Don’t pour water into the doughnut hole. Everyone makes this mistake! Remember to tell your partner. You need to lift the clear top portion off, bring it to the sink, and fill it from the bottom by turning it upside down and unscrewing the cap. You cannot use essential oils with Crane humidifiers.

Air Circulators

Fans for baby reduce SIDS/SUIDS by 72% according to research studies. They help with increasing the mix of the exhalation into the room air and improving room ventilation. This percentage is obviously very high and getting a small fan is worth the investment. In addition, you may want to invest in a fan guard, which is made out of fine mesh and fitted over the fan head to prevent little finger getting caught in the blades. This will also prevent your child from poking other objects in the blades. Place the fan away from Baby, ensure at least 3 to 4 feet between the tip of the ceiling fan blades and the edge of your child’s bed or other furniture, so if you have an older child who is tempted to jump on their bed or climb, they won’t reach the fan. A ceiling fan is ideal. If you don’t have a ceiling fan, using a stationary fan – or better yet – an air circulator (to rotate the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide) is ideal.

Baby Cameras & Monitors

The Owlet is not a camera or visual monitor but instead it is worn on baby’s ankle, and it monitors Baby’s oxygen levels and heartbeat, and then alerts your phone. In my experience with families who has used this device, it has either stressed parents out more, or provided great relief to worries they had about their baby while they slept.

Swaddles

For quick layering advice, many mothers find “inception swaddling” or double swaddling super effective: first place Baby in a SwaddleMe Original, and then swaddle Baby in a muslin swaddle such as a lightweight Aden + Anais muslin cotton receiving blanket.

Many of my clients love to double swaddle with the Miracle Blanket Swaddle or the Halo Swaddle as well.

My go-to swaddle is the Ollie Swaddle!

The Nested Bean Swaddle is lightly weighted on the chest and sides to give the feeling of being held. The weights are filled with non-toxic poly beads (same as those used in children’s toys) and were created using physio-therapy standards to give just the right amount of pressure. Moms report longer sleep in 1-3 nights. It allows for transitioning from newborn size 0-6 months – the 2 sizes in 1 design means this swaddle lasts twice as long as regular swaddles. Babies legs go in the small inner pocket for the first few weeks and then in the larger pocket for up to 6 months. You can then transition with the arms out around 2-3 months. The Zen Swaddle has a TOG rating of 0.5 which means it is breathable for Summer days but still warm and cozy enough for night time sleeping.

Grooming

The oogiebear Ear and Nose Cleaner is a fun and tiny tool which is constructed of durable yet soft silicone, making it gentle on sensitive parts and also hypoallergenic since it doesn’t contain spores to harbor bacteria.

An Electric Nail Trimmer for Baby will be your or your partner’s favorite way to trim baby’s nails as they grow. It’s fast and baby’s fingers can’t get cut, and they can’t scratch themselves (or you) because the rotating trimmer simply massages the edges of their nails down to a smooth file.

For baby’s boogers: Baby Nasal Aspirator NoseFrida the Snotsucker by Fridababy.

Water Wipes (made in Ireland) for your Baby’s bumkin or American-made water wipes by Bets & Emy – these two are the gentlest, chemical-free wipes on the market… super important for your baby’s vulnerable, delicate membranes.

Baby can bathed in the sink, a basin, or the bathtub.

Use the softest baby cloths made from bamboo.

DermaFrida Baby Bath Silicone Brush by Fridababy: A baby essential for dry scalp and cradle cap and eczema! Use daily from birth to avoid dry scalp and cradle cap.

Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Shampoo and Bella B Silky Conditioner: Great natural and gentle shampoo for dry scalp and cradle cap.

I love Babo Botanicals and have had amazing results with it on newborns, babies, and toddlers. I’m proud to recommend these products because they’re effective and I’ve seen eczema disappear even in the worse cases which makes moms really happy.

  • Vegan, Pure Flower & Plant Extracts
  • Sulfate-Free
  • Formaldehyde-Free
  • Paraben-Free
  • Phthalate-Free
  • Tear Free
  • Allergy Tested
  • Dermatologist Tested
  • No Icky Chemicals
  • No Synthetic Fragrances
  • No Synthetic Colors
  • Dairy and Soy-Free
  • No High Allergy Nut Oils
  • Biodegradable Formulas
  • Recyclable BPA-Free Packaging
  • Color Safe

There are two versions I love below, but they come in many scents, which I’ve listed as well. I recommend the Fragrance-Free version for newborns, and then switching to the Oatmeal & Calendula version as baby grows. When baby becomes a tot and is less sensitive, you can by the other varieties they come in like lavender meadowsweet and berry primrose.

BABO Botanicals Sensitive Baby Fragrance Free Shampoo and Wash, 16 Fluid Ounce: Perfect for newborns and babies with sensitive skin and their matching gentle lotion: Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Fragrance Free Daily Hydra Lotion, 8 Ounce.

Babo Botanicals Moisturizing Baby Shampoo and Wash Oatmilk Calendula, 16 Ounce: Smells amazing and super gentle on babies and great for toddlers. Watch out Mom, you’ll end up using it yourself. Their matching natural lotion Babo Botanicals Oatmilk Calendula Moisturizing Baby Lotion, 8 Ounce – Best Baby Lotion for Soothing Sensitive Skin; Helps Relieve Eczema; Natural Oat and Organic Calendula has the same gentle, very moisturizing effect and the same amazing smell as the shampoo. Great for daily use to prevent dry skin and eczema.

If Baby does develop eczema, this product has saved many babies: Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby All Natural Healing Ointment, 4 Ounce. The product is thick and works almost immediately.

For daily follow up on eczema once it is under control, this lotion is effective: Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Fragrance Free Daily Hydra Lotion, 8 Ounce

This diaper cream is natural, safe, and amazingly effective: Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Zinc Fragrance-Free Diaper Cream, 3 Ounce. Diaper cream with zinc will heal the rash. Using a petroleum alone jelly-like Aquaphor, Vaseline, or A&D Cream does not heal a rash. It just helps with chafing because it’s a crude (harsh) oil which creates a barrier between skin so it won’t rub. A real diaper rash needs non-nano, safe, zinc applied on the skin first before applying any creamy/oily lubricant. You can always apply the diaper cream with zinc first and “seal it in” with an oil like coconut oil, vitamin E oil, castor oil, or aloe vera. Weleda’s Diaper Care Cream also works effectively as it has zinc, and then sweet almond and sesamae oils plus lanolin to seal in the zinc while lubricating against chaffing. My favorite is to use a zinc base, and then use Alba Botanica jelly which is safer than Vaseline, as it is made only of plant oils (castor).

Babo Botanicals Lavender Meadowsweet Calming Baby Bubble Bath & Wash, 15 ounces: Lavender scent for older babies and its matching lotion Babo Botanicals Lavender Meadowsweet Calming Baby Moisturizing Lotion, 8 Ounce – and its matching lavender and chamomile hand and body wipes Babo Botanicals 3-in-1 Calming Face, Hands & Body Wipes Lavender & Meadowsweet (Pack of 3), 30 wipes each.

Babo Botanicals Smoothing Shampoo and Wash, Berry Primrose, 16 Fluid Ounce and its matching conditioner: Babo Botanicals Smoothing Conditioner, Pink, Berry Primrose, 32 Ounce and its matching detangling spray: Babo Botanicals Berry Primrose Instantly Smooth Detangler, 8 Ounce – Natural Conditioner, Smoothes Tangles and Adds Shine, Sulfate Free

Puracy was developed by pediatricians

Babo Botanicals Swim and Sport Shampoo and Wash Cucumber Aloe, 16 Ounce and its matching conditioner: Babo Botanicals Swim and Sport Conditioner, Cucumber Aloe, 6 Ounce for when Baby starts swimming or getting sweaty plus its matching detangler: Swim & Sport Cucumber Aloe Vera Detangling Spray 8 FL.OZ

I also recommend Babo Botanicals Sunscreens. They have several that are very pure.

Great “brushes” that can be used on wet or dry hair and that don’t hurt! With the Tangle Teezer, you’ll never hear your child cry. Don’t even buy detangling spray. This is a must when your baby grows older.

Strollers

Sun Protection

Best cover for newborns is the Cozigo Cover from Australia – it clips on any type of stroller to create a nighttime type of coverage when you take Baby outdoors during daylight.

Coolibar makes lightweight sun hats for babies made with UPF 50+ cotton/viscose/bamboo/spandex fabric. Their ZnO SUNTECT technology protects against 98% of UVA and UVB rays and is the highest quality zinc oxide protection. They are super soft against the skin.

Laundry Detergent

All-natural, dye-free, fragrance-free, and suitable for baby: Charlie’s Soap is amazing, Biokleen is amazing, and Eco-Me Laundry Detergent is amazing. The Puracy laundry detergent was created by doctors.

Window Treatments

For temporary darkening your nursery’s windows: RABBITGOO Blackout Window Film is a cheap alternative to blackout curtains.

A Lovie will help Baby associate nap and sleepytime. This self-soothing tool used in sleep conditioning allows for earlier transition to falling back to sleep without help when waking between sleep cycles. Always buy 2 so you have a backup when one disappears, needs to be laundered, or for on-the-go in your diaper bag. You will not bring the lovie to them outside of the crib nor on their activity/play mat or during playtime. It’s to be associated with sleepy time only for conditioning purposes or it becomes a distraction and will not help with their sleep transition.

Loungers

On-the-go and baby loungers – always use supervised and do not place these inside a crib or bassinet. They are not for sleeping in unattended and not recommended by the AAP. Use at your own risk. I prefer the SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper because the sides are completely mesh and breathable. The other two I really don’t like (Dock A Tot and Snuggle Me) because babies have died in them from rolling into the side and suffocating. Again, supervision is necessary so if you’re going to supervise your baby, then there should be no problem with them lounging in these. Babies take many more breaths a minute than adults, so their chance of carbon dioxide and suffocation is higher if their face is too close to a bumper (not recommended in a crib) or a nonbreathable fabric like the Dock A Tot or Snuggle Me, should they turn and wiggle into the side of it. Therefore I encourage you to choose the first option, SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper, as it has mesh on the sides, however many parents are purchasing the other two and still safely supervising their child. I know parents who love the other two, but they aren’t recommended. Again, use at your own discretion.

Sleep Positioners help within Baby’s carseat and also when napping to prevent flat head and they give Baby a feeling of security if their feet are touching a boundary.

Probiotics for Baby

Check out my evidence-based article on Probiotics for Baby’s Best Health. The University of California Davis has done thorough research on probiotics and implemented Evivo in NICUs (Evivo Probiotics Starter Kit and Evivo Probiotics Refill Kit).

Bottles

Check out Bottles for Breastfed Babies!

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Humidity and Temperature for Sleeping Babies and Children

Humidity and Temperature for Sleeping Babies and Children

Air conditioning can dry the humidity in the room, and babies and children can wake with a dry mouth and feel thirsty and their cries can equate to more nighttime feeding occurrences. Fixing humidity doesn’t mean they’ll have one less night feed – if they are hungry, then they absolutely need to be fed!

For children who are mouth breathers and sleep with their mouth open, a dry room can be an issue and sleep disrupter.

Humidity Range and Reasoning

A humidity range between 40-60% is healthy for the body, mainly because bacteria have a hard time growing in this range. The EPA’s recommends 30-50% for preventing mold growth in the house as higher humidity promotes mold growth. Some children’s hospitals keep their air at 55%. How a room is built and insulated is also a factor for promoting mold growth. If walls get cold at night, mold is more likely to grow.

Aim for a higher humidity level without mold growth. Factors include the season and construction of the room. You can get an inexpensive humidity thermometer or pick one up from your local hardware store.

The humidity level will be raised significantly if you aim a humidifier or diffuser at your child’s crib or, but the overall humidity of the room will not be as high. This is an effective way to give Baby the benefit of humidity while decreasing your risk of mold. However, you need to be sure Baby is warm if you’re using a cold mist.

Newborn Baby Sleep Temperature

If your child is an amazing newborn or beautiful older baby, the room should be between 68-72 degrees F.

It is very important that you not overheat your newborn when Baby sleeps as it increases the risk of SIDS/SUIDS. It has also been shown that using a fan can decrease the risk of SIDS/SUIDS by 72%!

Fans help with increasing the mix of the exhalation into the room air and improving room ventilation. This percentage is obviously very high and getting a small fan is worth the investment. In addition, you may want to invest in a fan guard, which is made out of fine mesh and fitted over the fan head to prevent little finger getting caught in the blades. This will also prevent your child from poking other objects in the blades. Place the fan away from Baby, ensure at least 3 to 4 feet between the tip of the ceiling fan blades and the edge of your child’s bed or other furniture, so if you have an older child who is tempted to jump on their bed or climb, they won’t reach the fan. A ceiling fan is ideal.

If the room is cooler for Baby, you need more layers. Layers do not equal blankets with babies! They can get intertwined and tangled in them and suffocate. More layers mean instead of just being swaddled in a diaper (which is very effective for a warm room), swaddle Baby in a onesie, or swaddle Baby wearing footie jammies. Or double swaddle! Or swaddle baby in a diaper alone with a velcro swaddle and a receiving blanket burrito-swaddled over it.

Overheating

No socks, no hat! At the hospital, the nurses will provide a hat for you… do not keep this on your baby while sleeping swaddled after the first couple of days..! Socks for sleep is also a no-no. Babies with cool extremities are not cold, and it helps them self-regulate their temperature while not wearing these. Socks and hats while sleeping swaddled can contribute to overheating and SIDS/SUIDS. You can check if your baby is too hot by feeling the back of their neck and upper back. If they’re clammy, they are too hot. If you’re warm, your baby is hot! If you’re hot, your baby is very hot! If you’re cold, they are probably perfect. Babies overheat faster than adults! Again, the ideal temperature for babies is 68-72 degrees F; this can be super cold for adults, but it’s super ideal for a sleeping baby, and some pediatricians even recommend the room be as low as 66 degrees F! Wow!

Why Swaddle Baby?

Swaddling is effective during the Fourth Trimester to help mimic the feeling of the womb. After wrapping Baby up in a blanket like a little burrito, Baby feels safe and secure because Baby feels boundaries, like when inutero. Baby is born with over 70 reflexes that Baby loses as Baby develops, and one is called the moro reflex or startle reflex. Swaddling helps Baby feel the boundary when disrupted by the reflex so that they have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep. It can take up to 4 or 5 months for Baby to stop the startling, but you can stop swaddling after Baby starts rolling over and transition to a sleep sack.

Which Swaddles are Best?

We love the Ollie swaddle, which makes swaddling a breeze with velcro.


For quick layering advice, many mothers find “inception swaddling” or double swaddling super effective: first place Baby (wearing a diaper only) in a SwaddleMe or Happiest Baby Sleepea Swaddle, and then burrito-swaddle Baby in a muslin swaddle blanket such as a lightweight Aden + Anais muslin cotton receiving blanket.

Many of our clients love to double swaddle with the Miracle Blanket Swaddle and the Halo Swaddle for the second layer as well.

Toddler Sleep Temperature

It’s also proven that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If your child is a terrific toddler, dress them in a single layer of long pants and long sleeves. If the room is warm and it’s not a variable you can control, stick with short sleeves or nothing but a diaper.

Thirst Solutions Caused by Dry Air

As an adult, it’s easy to have a glass of water next to our beds when we wake thirsty. Obviously, this is dangerous for babies! However, toddlers can have a spill-proof cup near their bed such as the Munchkin 360 Training Cup. This cup is a great stepping stone for Little Ones transitioning from the bottle as it has a 360-degree drinking edge. Its spout-less design eliminates spills completely so if your child falls asleep with it in their hands or bed, you don’t need to worry about mattresses getting soaked as the cup automatically seals when your child stops drinking.

These are better to use than a straw-type of sippy cup for both developmental and sanitary reasons:

  • These cups are recommended by newborn care specialists, dentists, early intervention specialists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists.
  • They improve tongue, oral development, and in-turn, speech function as they help develop mouth muscles.
  • They’re easy to clean with no extra valves or parts.
  • The top piece, where your child’s mouth will touch, is silicone material; thus, it’s hypoallergenic since there are no open pores to harbor bacteria.

These cups also come in stainless steel if you want to keep it in the fridge for children who absolutely love cold water on hot days.

Buying the Best Humidifier or Diffuser

If you use air-conditioning or central heating, you may consider adding a humidifier to the room. A cool-mist diffuser/humidifier combo works really well.

Crane Humidifiers: Awesome and easy larger cool-mist humidifier. Don’t pour water into the doughnut hole. Everyone makes this mistake! Remember to tell your partner. You need to lift the clear top portion off, bring it to the sink, and fill it from the bottom by turning it upside down and unscrewing the cap.


Diffusers are another option to create humidity and can be used with essential oils. These diffusers require no filter for the essential oil. You just add a couple of drops of GMO-free pure essential oils which are calming and effective for sleep such as chamomile and lavender directly in the basin. Only use the red light setting because other lights have different wavelengths that inhibit melatonin and disrupt sleep. (Read more about Baby Night Lights and Better Sleep here.) You can also dim the brightness of the light and it has a cool-mist, doubling as a diffuser and humidifier. The waterless auto shut-off feature is a great safety net so when all the water evaporates, it shuts off.

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Sleeping with a Pacifier

Sleeping With a Pacifier

Pacifiers can be both a godsend AND a nightmare. I have cared for and supported hundreds of families and babies, from singletons to preemies with special needs and multiples. A lot has changed according to the AAP and guidelines from orthodontists and lactation consultants since I became a Certified Advanced Newborn Care Specialist, Doula, and Certified Lactation Educator Counselor.

Over my course I went from not recommending pacifiers to understanding the physiology of a human newborn and their sucking reflex in conjunction with their speech, oral, and facial development and how that actually connects with and benefits the breastfeeding relationship.

Let’s get down to it. As a new parent, you do not want your baby to become dependent upon pacifiers.  This can result in sleepless nights for parents and disruption of your baby’s precious time to sleep and grow, as some argue that pacifying can lead to baby’s feeding signals being interrupted and disrupting breastfeeding. But if your baby is truly hungry, they’re going to spit it out and will not settle with a pacifier if they want to eat.

I have consulted with many families and as a Postpartum Doula, I’m going with the new parents (usually assisting the new mother while her partner is at work) to their pediatrician appointments. I have spoken to many pediatricians and all their views vary. Some pediatricians are very strict and don’t recommend a pacifier until 6 weeks and some are more casual, recommending to wait until the newborn is 2 weeks young.

In my experience as a Birth Doula, I have encountered hospitals using them often for NICU babies to encourage facial and oral development and promote sucking, but I’ve also seen hospitals lock up pacifiers!

Some healthcare professionals argue that pacifiers cause nipple confusion. There is no such thing as nipple confusion. It’s flow-preferencing that takes place, caused by hunger satiation from using any type of “flow” nipples (including preemie and slow-flow nipples), not using no-flow bottle nipples, the improper use of nipple shields, and from not practicing evidence-based paced bottle-feeding. Pacifiers don’t cause this.

As a trained lactation consultant, I do advise to use pacifiers sparingly. This could mean using it in the first week only a few times or using it in the baby’s third week as needed when Baby is quivering and not hungry – they have a sucking reflex and need to suck, so it’s okay. Not everything is black and white in postpartum, because every baby is so unique and different.

For example, if a baby was whisked away due to a lower APGAR score at birth, and then poked and prodded with needles and tests, they may have birth trauma and anxiety and that pacifier may help them. Birth trauma exists for newborns, too – they just went through a LOT! Even if they weren’t taken to the NICU, they can have trauma from coming down the birth canal, regardless if delivery was fast or slow, and regardless if a vacuum was used.

Babies receive a lot of pressure coming out, and they are resilient, but I have seen many babies with alignment issues who, when receiving proper care, are easily corrected by a pediatric chiropractor. Sometimes these issues aren’t addressed until the baby is 3-4 weeks old, for example, until the new parents are suggested to see a craniosacral therapist or pediatric chiropractor by the Postpartum Doula.

A fussy baby is an indication that something is wrong. Don’t panic. It doesn’t mean something is devastatingly bad or seriously wrong or hurting the baby. It means there could be one tiny variable that something is off. So let’s narrow it down, go down the list, and figure it out together.

There are different levels of fussiness; and it can be super overwhelming for new parents! The role of the Postpartum Doula alone is not trained in, or to offer, newborn care. It’s in my scope as a Certified Advanced Newborn Care Specialist to help you through issues you’re having if you’re my client, and this is why I do emergency, remote Newborn Consultations

Determining what is and what is not colic, the definition of Purple Crying, determining the baby as being hungry, if they’re clusterfeeding, variables from Baby being too warm and a frantic parent actually thinking Baby is cold, to a hair strung around Baby’s finger, to a tiny gas bubble, to a wet diaper that is irritating Baby and not turning the diaper indicator line blue – all these variables and more can justifiably confuse a parent and cause so… much… frustration!

If a pacifier is going to save you sanity, then by all means, use it. How many pediatricians have admitted to me they used it on the first night with their newborn… I don’t have enough fingers to count.

Also, if the new mother has cracked and bleeding nipples, there’s an issue with improper latch and possibly not a deep enough latch, and other variables I’m not going to go into at this moment, and then a pacifier may provide relief to that baby while she gets help from an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) or from a Lactation Counseling Consultation on what to do get baby fed, help heal her nipples, proper nipple care, guidance for preventing further similar issues, and a plan to protect her milk supply. 

Don’t judge yourself. We aren’t going to judge new parents, that’s ridiculous, and you’re not welcome here if you’re judging a new parent. So let’s establish that as rule number 1: we aren’t going to judge ourselves because, let’s face it, there’s just not a great foundation of proper prenatal or postpartum care in America, which is one of the main reasons the American Doula profession has grown so much, because in Europe and other countries it’s just standard decency that the government both allows and provides multiple, and I repeat, several, postpartum nurses to visit and care for the newly postpartum mother in the first week and first few weeks (if not more) after childbirth. You’re off the hook here, it’s not your fault you’re here now, so let’s get to the point and get you some quick tips!

  1. The room should be darkened already (with the correct lighting that doesn’t inhibit melataonin), your white noise sound machine should be on, and the room should be comfortable with the correct humidity and temperature for your baby’s age.
  2. Ideally, your baby has been fully fed and burped and held upright for 15 minutes after each feed (so they aren’t having issues with tiny gas bubbles and reflex) then laid down for sleep on their back.
  3. When laying them down, place your hand on your baby without changing the amount of pressure of moving your hand at all, and without moving your hand around as that stimulates nerve endings. No petting, no rubbing, just a steady, slightly firm amount of pressure to let your baby feel your warmth and that you’re still there. This gives them a sense of security and comfort. Keep your hand there for about a minute.
  4. Sleep is a learned behavior which is directly associated with a caregiver-child relationship; the way your baby learns to sleep now will directly impact how they face stressful issues. They need to learn it from you. Your gift of sleep conditioning is an empowering investment in their future which will carry on into the future as it will give them the ability to calm themselves when they face a stressful situation as a child and even as an adult. Through these tips of sleep conditioning, your baby will eventually learn to self-soothe (when your baby is an infant, not a newborn) and you may be able to avoid sleep training.
  5. If your baby is agitated and moving around even after holding your hand steadily on their tummy for over a minute, you can take both your hands and gently, ever so gently, I said super gently, squeeze their sides and hold. Newborns were inside the womb, which was a very snug environment, and some newborns need to feel a tighter boundary and like to be able to feel they’re safe and secure. You can release a little pressure little by little over a bit of time and then lift your hands.
  6. If they become too agitated, you may need to keep your hands on their side and slowly jiggle them to settle them a little. This can be for about 15 seconds, while you quietly “shh, shh, shh” in a staccato fashion. Then when you see them start to settle, slow down your little jiggle and hold your hands at their sides steadily for about thirty seconds, and then gently release pressure and lift your hands slowly.
  7. You may need to do this a few times. Some babies are out right away with just this technique.
  8. Other babies need more. You may even need to pat their tummy/side softly while shushing. Some newborns love this and they’re settled immediately, while other babies are too stimulated by this. Every baby is unique. Do not try this until you have tried the above steps more than once.
  9. If after trying a few times, they may be need to feed a little more, they may have a gas bubble and need to be burped, or they may have a wet diaper. If you already did these things, the chances are not high, but sometimes Baby is still hungry. Do you ever want a little more, an extra serving, a snack, or something sweet after a meal? Babies do, too.
  10. If you are certain they’re totally full, and nothing has worked, their diaper is dry, they could be overtired (did you have them up for more than the golden hour? Try not to exceed more than an hour to 90 minutes wake time for a newborn.) You may calm them by mimicking your womb, and “SHHHHH” near their ear. 
  11. Time to pick up Baby now. You may swing and sway Baby ever so softly but swiftly in your arms, while Baby is in cradle position, to wear their head is softly jiggly ever so slightly. Do not have them upright on your chest or over your shoulder and then start to bounce. Also do not bounce while sitting on your birth ball. Would you want to be bounced after you’ve drank something, like a milkshake? Think about it… You will cause your baby to spit up. Swaying from side to side for a few minutes usually does the trick and Baby will be fast asleep. You can then set Baby down on their back and place your hand with slightly firm, steady pressure (don’t move your hand around) on their chest for about thirty seconds, or at their sides with both hands. This usually settles them to sleep.
  12. Still not sleeping? This is usually when a pacifier is introduced. If you touch Baby’s lips with the pacifier and Baby starts rooting, they’re hungry! Feed them. If they’re not, insert it gently and slowly to where they won’t be startled and until they grasp on and start sucking. Usually after a short time, that pacifier will be dropped out of your baby’s mouth. Through sucking, serotonin is released by your baby’s brain, allowing for a faster transition to sleep.
  13. Do not go in and continually put the pacifier in your baby’s mouth. You do not want a ticket to the musical pacifier ride at this theme park. Avoid this at all costs… usually this can easily be avoided by a few sucks on the pacifier and then they drop it and they’re off in la la land. 
  14. When you leave the pacifier in, now that’s when the problem starts. Don’t allow them to sleep with it. Remove it after a couple minutes. This way you allowed them to self-soothe with the pacifier, and removed it when it wasn’t needed anymore, and no addiction is formed. 

If you do the above for a couple of fussy moments, it will cease and your baby can learn to self-soothe and go back to sleep on their own.

Are Pacifiers Good For For Baby?

Babies are born wanting to suck. Some even suck their thumbs or fingers before they’re born in Mommy’s womb. Sucking is often an important method of self-soothing as it is comforting, familiar and a calming mechanism in their new world outside of the womb. The American Academy of Pediatrics gives pacifiers the green light throughout baby’s first year for the following reasons:

The Pros

  • Researchers have found an association between pacifier use during sleep and a reduced risk of SIDS/SUIDS.
  • Pacifiers do not decrease breastfeeding rates in full term infants.
  • Also, studies show pacifiers actually help with breastfeeding. 
  • Some babies are happiest when they’re sucking on something. They are born with over 70 reflexes that they grow out of overtime, and one of them is a sucking reflex! This is a non-nutritive sucking reflex, and often confuses parents to thinking their baby is hungry when their baby just wants to suck!
  • There is a physiological process where an infant moves from a “suckling” pattern to a “sucking” pattern to a more mobile “collection and swallowing” pattern. Pacifiers can help infants with oral muscle flaccidity, difficulties with latch during breastfeeding, or encourage sucking in pre-term newborns. 
  • A pacifier may help your baby go to sleep if your baby is fussy.
  • A pacifier may buy you a few minutes when your baby is hungry to empty your bladder, find a comfortable spot to nurse or to prepare a bottle, or be helpful during shots or blood tests. It is super imperative to curb maternal or paternal anxiety from seeing your baby cry from medical procedures. Come on, say it. You matter, too. Give yourself a break here.
  • Pacifiers are inexpensive and recyclable.
  • Most pacifiers designed now are orthodontically-approved.
  • The binky is easily disposable. Toss when its time to stop. You can’t do that with fingers if baby prefers to suck their thumb.

The Cons

  • Your baby may become dependent on the pacifier and wake up frequently if you choose to replace it every time it falls out of their mouth.
  • Pacifier use may increase the risk of middle ear infections. However, rates of middle ear infections are generally lowest from birth to age 6 months – when the risk of SIDS is the highest and during this time period is when your baby may be most interested in a pacifier. Usually the babies who are not allowed to keep their pacifier in too long don’t get addicted to pacifiers, and around 6 months of age, they are generally not interested in it anyways.
  • Typically, the reflexive need to suck (non-nutrative sucking reflex) slows by approximately 5 months of age. This is also when we begin to hear our children coo and babble quite a bit. That is generally the appropriate time to stop offering the pacifier. Again, studies show that 90% of SIDS deaths occur before the age of 6 months of age. According to Speech Pathologists and Certified Oralfacial Myologists, using a pacifier after that time is simply not necessary and instead becomes a “nurturing” pattern the parent offers to the child.
  • Prolonged pacifier use may lead to dental problems. Normal pacifier use during the first few years of life doesn’t cause long-term dental problems. If your child continues to use a pacifier persistently, however, their top front teeth may slant out or the upper and lower jaws may be misaligned. This can be avoided by not allowing the pacifier to be left in your baby’s mouth when sleeping, not allowing it during awake time, moved out of sight by the parent and/or caregiver when the baby is awake, by providing appropriate teething toys instead, and by choosing an orthodontically-safe pacifier in the first place. Breastfeeding instead of bottle-feeding also helps with preventing dental problems. 

Pacifier Tips

  • Let your baby set the pace. If they aren’t interested, skip the binky entirely!
  • If the pacifier falls out while they’re sleeping, don’t pop it back in!
  • Try other ways to calm your baby first. Change their position, sway for a few minutes, check if they’re hungry or if their diaper is soiled.
  • Before using a new pacifier, wash it with soap and water, and sterilize by boiling it! Avoid fungus by soaking it in equal parts white vinegar and water for a few minutes a day and air dry thoroughly before returning it to your baby. Thrush can be transferred to and from Baby, Mom, and pacifiers so be sure to sterilize any pacifiers you have, and often. You may also pop it in the dishwasher to clean it depending on the brand.
  • Watch for signs of deterioration. Replace pacifiers before they deteriorate; cracked nipples can tear off and pose a choking hazard.
  • Use caution with pacifier clips; use a short strap to prevent it from wrapping around your baby’s neck. Better yet, don’t use one.
  • Once a favorite paci is established, buy a few identical binkies to have on-hand.
  • Choose the one-piece, dishwasher-safe variety. Pacifiers made of two pieces pose a choking hazard.
  • Pull the plug before the bad habit forms. If you are jumping to put the pacifier into the baby’s mouth because the baby cannot stay asleep without it, it is a bad habit, your baby is clearly restless because they’re hungry, wet, have an air bubble/gas trapped, are teething, or have another issue. A pacifier addition can happen the first week of life. Remember 3 times starts a habit.

Recommended Pacifiers

Clockwise from top left to right:
  1. Eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, 100% pure natural rubber pacifier with orthodontic nipple: Sweetie Pacifier
  2. 100% medical grade silicone & dishwasher-safe: Ryan and Rose Cutie PAT Pacifier
  3. Eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, 100% pure natural rubber pacifier with orthodontic nipple: Natursutten Butterfly Orthodontic Rubber Pacifier
  4. Best classic paci and great for cleft palette: BIBS Pacifier
  5. Most popular pacifier for newborns up to 3 months (most American hospitals send these home with new parents after childbirth): Philips Avent Green Soothie
  6. Best pacifier for preemies up to 30 weeks gestation (not 30 weeks postpartum): Philips Wee Thumbie
  7. Best orthodontic pacifier for infants up to 2 months old and best pacifier for breastfed babies: MAM Newborn Start Pacifiers
  8. Best pacifier for breastfed babies: The First Years GumDrop
  9. Best classic paci and great for cleft palette: BIBS Pacifier
  10. Best glow-in-the-dark binky and for bottle-fed babies: Tommee Tippee Pacifier
  11. Another best orthodontic paci for up to 3 months: NUK Newborn Pacifier
  12. Best pacifier for cleft palette and tongue-tie: WubbaNub (see various styles)
  13. Best clinical and silicone binkie: Chicco PhysioForma Pacifier
  14. Best anti-colic and ergonomic paci for breastfed babies: Nanobébé’s Flexy Pacifier

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Tummy Time Instructions

Nourish Birth Tummy Time Instructions

Tummy time enables your newborn baby to receive several essential developmental benefits as your newborn engages their entire body to lay the foundation of all of their sensorimotor skills for their entire life.

How exactly do you do tummy time? Follow the timeline below and read the tummy time tips. It’s never too late to start tummy time exercises, and to give your baby all the tools they need to reap the tummy time benefits.

Tummy Time Timeline

  1. From birth to 3 weeks: Tummy time should start the day baby comes home from the hospital, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). A good time to play with your newborn in this position is after a diaper change or nap. Begin by placing your baby on your chest (practice Kangaroo Care), as often as possible and preferably skin to skin while you are laying down. In the first few weeks, try tummy time for 1-2 minutes, 2-3 times a day, at different times of the day. Your newborn can build up to 10-15 minutes a day.
  2. Around age 3 weeks to 1 month: One to two times daily, hold your baby upright with their belly against your upper chest and their head resting against your shoulder. Gently support your newborn’s neck and head with your hand. As they lift their head they are strengthening their neck and back. This simple exercise allows babies to develop the ability to move their face out of a blanket or mattress in case they accidentally roll to the stomach. When you do place him on his tummy, gently lift his head a tiny bit. Show him how to slowly swing his face to the side. Place safe objects and toys close to your newborn. Move them from side to side in front of her face. This encourages her to move, lift and turn her head.
  3. At age 2-3 months: It is easier for your newborn if you place your hand under their chest during the tummy exercise. This helps to lift your baby a tiny bit. Always put both of their arms in front to help them start learning how to use their arms to push up.

Tummy Time Tips

  • Supervise your newborn during tummy time. Never leave your baby alone. As they get stronger and start moving more, clear away dangerous objects like tables with sharp corners.
  • If your baby doesn’t like tummy time on the floor, do tummy time on a rolled-up towel or your lap. You can later transition to the floor.
  • Newborn babies have limited strength and poor head control. They tend to cry. Thus some parents fear and avoid it. Begin with brief sessions, a few minutes at a time. The key is to stay consistent. Then gradually increase the time as they grow through tummy time. Prepare to be amazed how quickly your newborn will gain strength and develop their vestibular system. They will improve coordination, sensory, oral and motor skills, all while they build self-confidence.
  • Get down on your baby’s level, interact by talking eye-to-eye. Sing songs, stroke their back, and tickle their hands. Engage in facial expressions, smile, and encourage touch. This enables your child to feel safe and secure in tummy time, ultimately enjoying the experience and benefits of learning to move and play.
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Newborn Development From Tummy Time

Nourish Birth Newborn Development From Tummy Time

In your tummy, your baby was curled up in a little ball shape. Tummy time exercises allow your baby to open up and gently elongate the front of their body for optimal newborn development. Tummy time itself does not hurt. However, it is a brand new, stimulating experience for babies to process as they engage their entire body to lay the foundation of all of their sensorimotor skills for their entire life.

Benefits of Tummy Time:

  1. Tummy time teaches your baby safety techniques. For example, routinely sleeping on their stomach raises a baby’s risk of SIDS about 4 times. However, SIDS risk increases 8-37 times when babies under 4 months sleep on their back and then accidentally roll onto their stomach. Naturally, your baby will flip over during sleep as they age, but the way you can protect them is to provide them with skills learned through doing tummy time exercises. These safety techniques will help them to free their face by arching their back and lifting their head when they do eventually roll over.
  2. Tummy time promotes visual development through building visual motor skills, binocular vision, two eye coordination, looking upward, and moving eyes side to side independent of head movements. This can influence later activities in life such as copying a teacher’s notes from a whiteboard and following a moving object such as a baseball.
  3. Tummy time eases tummy function to help reduce gas and reflux, decrease constipation, and encourage bowel movements.
  4. Tummy time builds motor skills of the arm, hand, neck, and shoulder for rolling over, crawling, and eventually walking. Tummy time also prevents torticollis, abnormal or asymmetrical neck positioning, due to tightness in the neck muscle. Babies may be having trouble with active head and neck movements when they do not turn their head or stare in one area without moving their eyes. Studies show a direct correlation linking thirty waking minutes of consistent tummy time with higher newborn developmental task scores and improved gross motor control of the neck and head when compared to babies who did not practice tummy time exercises.
  5. Tummy time produces the optimal head shape. Most babies sleep on their backs, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and long periods of time can create pressure on one area of the head. Then when awake, babies are often playing on their backs which reinforces that pressure. A baby’s soft skull molds easily, and this can create a flat spot on that area of the head. Daily tummy time exercises give the baby a break from their back, ensuring a round head and prevents neck troubles and imbalances flat spots can bring due to one side of their head weighing more than the other side.
  6. Tummy time engages oral function while strengthening throat, tongue, and oral skills for optimal latch and feeding. Without enough exposure to tummy time, baby’s tongue will not function optimally.
  7. Tummy time facilitates sensory skills and input for hands to mouth and lips, as well as vestibular skills which help the brain register and respond to whether an object they are looking at is moving or if their head is moving, how quickly, and in what direction. It also helps them have balance and equilibrium, equipping them to coordinate both sides of their body together for future activities like catching a ball, riding a bike, cutting with scissors, and zipping a jacket. Tummy time helps the vestibular system to also develop muscle tone for sitting still and upright in a classroom and holding their body parts in-position like when practicing ballet technique.
  8. Tummy time inspires self-confidence and establishes a connection when your baby is complemented after working so hard. Spending time praising your baby after even thirty seconds of exercises does wonders for your baby’s neurodevelopment. Research has shown that the single most important building block of self-esteem is the responsiveness of the caregivers to the cues of the infant. This means your reactions give meaning and importance to your baby’s impulses.

Tummy Time Methods

A Newborn Care Specialist can help you and your baby through tummy time to reach your baby’s newborn developmental milestones. Learn tips on how to do tummy time here.