There are times when a sleep prop is a necessary tool to help your baby sleep. Some things one person views as a sleep prop another person does not. Sometimes we hear so much warning about the usage of sleep props we are afraid to use them when the situation might warrant it. While I avoid many sleep props, there are many on the sleep prop list I used with my children and highly recommend to everyone. Some examples of sleep props are (NOTE--not all people would view all of these as sleep props, but considering a sleep prop to be something that you give baby or do for baby to help baby fall sleep, let's call them all sleep props for this poll):
1. What sleep props did/does your child use?
Sound Machine/Fan: 19
Sucking on Fingers/Thumb: 3
Rocking to Sleep: 2
Sleep Location other than Crib: 8
Crib Soother (lights/Music): 1
Blackout Curtains: 1
2. What age did your child start with each prop?
1 Month: 2
2 Months: 3
3 Months: 1
4 Months: 2
5 Months: 1
6 Months: 1
12 Months: 1
Older than 1 year: 2
Older than 1 year: 2
3. What age did your child end with each prop?
N/A (still using): 25
3-4 Months: 15
5-6 Months: 11
7-8 Months: 3
9-10 Months: 1
9-10 Months: 1
12 Months: 1
14 Months: 1
2 Years: 1
4. When you ended each prop, was it difficult for your child?
Yes, a little: 10
5. If yes to number 4, what kind of reaction was it and how long did the reaction last?
Crying before falling asleep: 14
Wake Early from Sleep: 5
Stopped Sleeping: 1
6. In retrospect, would you use that prop again?
7. Any advice on sleep props?
Anne said: The sooner you take it out easier it is. Try to help the child to be ok and flexible sleeping with or without the prop. But I think the prop soothe them, and having a calm routine everyday makes up for one disrupted one when you are somewhere without the prop.
Jenna said: Sound machine and swaddle are great ways to help little ones learn to sleep on their own and don't create a bad habit in my opinion. For other things, I would suggest only introducing as needed to avoid having to wean them off later if possible. Sound machine continues to be really helpful for making a different location feel more "at home".
Erin said: I've found that the earlier I weaned the props, the easier of a process it was. But I think props have a bad reputation amongst BWers. I wouldn't be afraid to use them for a time, so long as you have a plan in place for moving past them.
Rochelle said: I learned, for myself, that allowing one hand out for my daughter allowed for her to use her hand to help her transition in her sleep.
Stephanie said: I wholeheartedly recommend a crib soother that you can travel with. The reason is because I can recreate my baby's sleep environment anywhere as long as I have the soother with me. It signals to my baby that it's time to sleep and it has made a world of difference in getting him to fall asleep.
Heather said: I wish I would have taken away the pacifier at 6 months. I've heard it is easier, and now she is so attached to it. She looks forward to sleeping because she gets her paci...
Sarah said: Have a time period in mind for how long you want to use them, and try to stick to it. Just make sure they [pacifiers] are ALL gone!
Brittany said: Only use if necessary and if you've exhausted all other efforts. I wish we didn't need the sound machine, but we rent a downstairs apartment and his bedroom is right off of the living room so we didn't have a choice. A lot of the sleep props listed I refused to use Bc I knew they'd be hard to break. My son can sleep other places without the sound, so I don't feel it's a real sleep prop.
Christina said: If your child doesn't take to them, don't worry about it. Sleep props can be helpful but not necessary, and children should be able to outgrow them in time. We also tried the pacifier with our daughter, but she really didn't care for it, so we didn't worry about it.
Nikole said: Use them for their purpose but don't be afraid to drop it once it's done. IMO parents hold on to soothers for far too long and create over attachment to them (more so when they're used NOT for sleep props, just all day long.)
Trish said: Use Baby Whisperer method for getting rid of them!
Carrie said: don't start it if you don't have the guts or patience to break it. if using one, try to stop it early on.
Christine said: I think as long as you are willing to put in the work to wean them from it, then there's nothing wrong with using them. Also, sometimes putting an 'age limit' on when you're going to wean can help.
Erin said: I've had great success with the ones I've used, but I would not ever rock to sleep again. That was born of desperation and it really messed up my back. I did and will try to think long term with any sleep props in the future- am I willing to continue to use this prop, or help my kiddo use this prop, for another month? Three months? 6 months? A year?
Jolene said: "Begin as you mean to go on." So true!
Jessie said: Mom's sanity comes first :) Use a prop so you can take care of yourself, but keep in mind how much you are relying on it so baby doesn't become to reliant on it. However, if you can keep up the prop (like a sound machine) without hassle on your part, why not? I like to think about if I can keep it up and also travel with it as our family lives far away and I want to enjoy our visits away from home.
Yooli said: I think much like the sleep hierarchy idea, reliable restful sleep is the ultimate goal for your kids. You do have to balance the utility of a prop against longterm problems (i.e. dental issues with pacis, for example), but if it isn't a huge harm or hassle, I think is fine. For instance, I don't really see blackout curtains and white noise as a big deal. We live in a single story house, so there isn't a lot of noise separation like you'd have in a 2-story home, so the white noise really helps DS get restful sleep. We started using blackout curtains for DS because both DH and I are sensitive to light when we sleep too (we sleep with eye masks) and we feel it just gives us all better rest. Does it mean we travel with blackout curtains and thumbtacks and our white noise machine? Yes. But we also carry our ear plugs and eye masks too and we don't bat at eye at that either. With DS' lovey, we wanted to make sure he didn't imprint on just ONE object, because we knew it could be a hassle. So from the beginning, we started with 2 loveys in different colors and alternated them for washing and in case one got lost. When he started to attach and chew on them, we quicky bought 2 more that were different and added them into the rotation. Then my mother started making them herself, all in different colors, and we added those into the mix as well. Now he's not fussy about which lovey he gets, since we've always mixed them up and they are all the same texture and size.
Christine said: Any advice on sleep props? We tried our best to only do certain types of sleep props... and tried to not do certain things at all that we weren't willing to do long term (rock to sleep, nurse to sleep, sleeping anywhere other than the crib). I don't regret using a pacifier or swaddle, and actually miss being able to give him his pacifier and he would just lay right down and go to sleep (now he cries for 10 seconds or so), but I do like that he doesn't "need" that to sleep now. Beyond thankful for BabyWise and this community - my son is a reliable 12 hour sleeper at night and fast asleep by 6:45 every night, wouldn't have been able to do it without these resources!