Gear Up: Must-Have Sleep Stuff for Babies and Kids

Because we don’t mess around when it comes to sleep. Here, the expert picks, from a magic swaddle substitute to the best bedtime stories and beyond Read more

sleeping gear magic merlin

This post comes courtesy of sleep coach Erica Desper*, founder of Confident Parenting, and a self-described “recovering sleep-deprived mama.” She says: “After solving my struggles with my own son, I now spend my days and nights helping other parents do the same. Here are some of favorite tried and true products to help your little one sleep more soundly.”


Dohm Sound Machine
I am a fan of using white noise for babies and children and leaving it on for the duration of nights and naps. Be cautious not to choose a device that shuts off after just 20-45 minutes as this can increase the likelihood of baby waking during sleep cycle transitions or being disturbed by household or neighborhood sounds. Many parents swear by the Dohm for masking pets, siblings, traffic and more. It costs about $45.

Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit
So many babies have trouble transitioning out of the swaddle but, for safety reasons, you’ll need to eliminate that before baby can roll. What’s a tired parent to do? Enter Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit. It looks like a snowsuit and is made of a weighted material so baby’s arms can be free but she still has that contained feeling she’s missing from the swaddle. Just be aware that you’ll need to ditch the Merlin once baby learns to roll in it. The suit costs about $40.

Another swaddle transition product parents love is the Zipee. This is essentially a stretchy sack you zip baby into, arms and hands included. It allows baby to feel contained enough to cope with the new freedom of being unswaddled. Unlike the Merlin, you can continue to use the Zipee once baby is rolling. The Zipadeezip costs between $30-40.

Twilight Ladybug
While you’d like to think that older children are past sleep issues, it is very common for the development of the imagination to bring on a new round. Adding a source of light and one that your child can control can be very soothing and help redirect their nervous energy into an action. The Twilight Ladybug or Turtle cast soothing stars on the ceiling for a set amount of time and can easily be turned back on by your child if he wakes overnight.

OK to Wake Clock
Early riser? For children age 2 and up, a toddler clock can help them distinguish when it is and isn’t okay to wake for the day. In their defense, 11 p.m., 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. all look very much the same, especially in a blacked-out room. A toddler clock (with time and reinforcement) can help your child learn to return to sleep when they wake too early … or at least to wait quietly in bed until the clock wakes. Some great clocks to check out are the OK to Wake Owl, the Kid Sleep Classic and the Gro Clock, starting around $28.

Magnesium Oil
Restless sleeper? Even with a balanced diet, most of us are deficient in Magnesium, which plays an important role in sleep. Combine that with the fact that most kids are picky eaters, and a deficiency is even more likely. You can ask your child’s pediatrician to check her levels and check out Kid Safe Calming Magnesium Roll-on Oil or Balm for about $20-29.

Weighted Blanket
Another great tool for restless sleepers or children who have anxiety, sensory processing issues or ADD/ADHD is a weighted blanket. These provide enough sensory input to help a busy mind and body settle down and drift off more easily. Price varies based on weight, blanket size and manufacturer or if you are DIY savvy you can make your own!

Relaxation Bedtime Stories for Children
If your child is anything like mine, extricating yourself from the room at bedtime is quite a feat. One sure way I can step peacefully out of the room is by putting on Lori Lite’s Indigo Dreams Relaxation Bedtime Stories for Children. These help my son to not feel so alone in the room and provide a distraction for his “worry brain”. These are available on cd or wherever you stream music.

What to Do When You Dread Your Bed
For children 6 and up who are experiencing anxiety surrounding sleep, this book is fantastic. It is intended to be read by parent and child together to help get to the root of the struggle and provide the family and child with coping tools.

While these tools may not be all that is needed to tackle your little one’s sleep struggles they can be a great complement to your overall plan. And if you don’t have a plan, a sleep consultant can help!


Erica Desper Confident Parenting

*About our author: Erica Desper is a certified child and infant sleep consultant who has worked with hundreds of parents in and around the Philadelphia area and internationally to improve their family’s sleep. Having struggled with colic, feeding issues and more than a year of massive sleep deprivation with her own son, Erica launched her business Confident Parenting in 2012 with the goal of helping other parents better understand and survive their baby’s developmental stages and sleep patterns while maintaining their sanity. Erica works with parents to understand the science of sleep, set the stage for healthy sleep habits and to remove common obstacles that interfere with sleep. Her philosophy is that there is no one-size-fits all solution or method but rather, the right one for you and your family. She offers a range of options so you can address sleep with a plan and timeline that feels comfortable for you, and follows you through the process of implementing the plan through phone and email support. She also teaches several group classes including “Why Won’t My Child Sleep”, “Newborn Sleep 101”, “Introduction to Infant Massage” and “Fussy Baby Solutions”. To learn more about the options for one on one support or to see what parents are saying about their experience, visit