11 must-have sleep-training essentials that helped my baby learn to sleep fast! Featured on the Southern Momdays blogNothing sucks worse than having a baby who refuses to sleep, y’all – which is why you’re likely reading all about sleep training and everything you need for it.

I’ve been through my own personal sleep-deprivated purgatory with my baby Scarlett, but we eventually got through that dark valley. (Ha!) She refused to sleep for three months. No real naps. No real sleep at night. No medical reason, according to our pediatrician. It was so horrible! Then…something clicked. After prepping relentlessly for sleep training, the exhaustion finally turned to refreshment. The sadness turned to happiness. It was bliss. But…getting there? Totally work.

I’m on a mission to make sleep training babies a more natural, effortless process for both new and veteran moms.

I read article after article about sleep training, book after book, attended webinars, joined email lists, raided forums, and spoke to countless other mothers – who gave me a knowing look and an almost-smug “reassurance” that this severe lack of sleep (coupled with the depths of despair) was completely normal and “just part of it.” They assured me it’ll “get better” around the time she goes to kindergarten.

The moms I’ve sent this list to have gushed that it worked for them, too…so here ya go!


I despaired at the thought of this lasting for years. I believed them that it was just “part of being a mom” through the first month. Then, I decided they were all insane. So, I set out to fix our situation. And I did, simply by prepping really well beforehand for sleep training.

We never had to “train” Scarlett. We simply gave her the tools she needed to learn to fall asleep independently. These things, coupled with a solid routine and a few more tips and tricks I learned along the way, have given us a baby who sleeps around 12 hours each night since she was five or six months old. (Seriously.) No luck involved!

Here are the essential items I needed to help my baby sleep. The moms I’ve sent this list to have gushed that it worked for them, too…so here ya go!

Note – check with your pediatrician first to confirm that your baby is ready before starting any kind of sleep-training plan.

  1. Invest in a really great video monitor for baby’s nursery.

While not necessarily necessary for baby to sleep, a baby monitor with video will help you and your baby as the training begins and continues. Why a video monitor, you ask? Can’t I just have an old-fashioned audio monitor? You can. But with a video monitor, you’ll learn quickly what noises and cries mean what, based on what baby’s doing physically in her crib.



You can see when she’s actually in distress versus when she’s just fussing about while trying to get herself down. It makes you feel like you’re in the room with baby, although you’re giving her the much-needed independence to learn to fall asleep by herself. And – here’s the kicker – you can see that baby’s still breathing while asleep, without having to rush into the room and make sure, which normally wakes baby up anyway. That helps to alleviate every new mom’s biggest fear! (It was crucial for me, I know.) It also expedites baby’s ability to get herself to sleep (or back to sleep) for naps and nighttime.

We bought an outstanding, easy-to-set-up video baby monitor before Scarlett was born that I can’t recommend more. I’ll never own anything else! We take it on trips, we use it throughout every day…it’s seriously one of my favorite baby-related purchases that we’ve ever made. It has different lenses that you can use for different views, it zooms in and out, and it has the ability to push “Talk” and speak to baby as well, among a number of other options. Two things would make it better: a battery pack as back-up power source for power outages and for the video stream to not be interrupted by the microwave when it’s on (ha!). Otherwise…it’s simply perfection.


Nursery prepped for nighttime sleep using sleep-training advice, featured on the Southern Momdays blog


  1. Blackout curtains are essential for sleep training.

Could you sleep during the day with sunlight spilling through your windows or curtains? I know I can’t. Turns out, neither could my daughter. Either make sure your nursery curtains are actually “blackout” curtains – meaning no light can penetrate – or do like I did. I simply ordered blackout curtain liners, and they were much cheaper than ordering fancy true blackout curtains!

  1. A safe, comfy sleeping space is key.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is something every parent should be concerned about.

Put emphasis on safety from the start with a legit list of ways to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Here’s a quick summary for the crib: your baby’s crib should be completely bare except for a tightly-fitted sheet on a firm mattress. I know that goes against everything you see in the amazing nursery décor examples around…but it’s not worth it to have gorgeous crib decor when it causes baby to be at higher risk of SIDS. (Always lay baby on her back to sleep, too!)

On the topic of mattresses, choose one that’ll be firm and will fit snugly in your crib (like suggested by SIDS awareness campaigns and pediatricians nationwide). Andy and I actually purchased a really affordable baby mattress that does the trick beautifully – and it’s been great!


  1. A white noise machine can help us all sleep better at night…especially baby during sleep training.

Block out the noises around and create an environment more like the one your baby had inside your womb with a soothing sound machine. Our sound machine for baby is amazing because it’s small, powerful, portable, and mercifully affordable. The only issue I have with it is that it’s only battery-operated, which is grand during power outages, but sucks when you run out of batteries.

My suggestion is to save money and invest in quality rechargeable batteries and a corresponding rechargeable dock like we did – for the sound machine as well as all those lovely-but-annoying toys!

  1. The right temperature matters for sleep training.

For Scarlett, we’ve discovered that she sleeps best right around 70 degrees. Anything far above or below makes her stir and sometimes cry. Your baby might be different. See what works for your baby with your pediatrician’s advice. It matters as part of your efforts to create a wonderful sleep environment!

Bunny blanket lovey example used for sleep training, featured on the Southern Momdays blog

  1. Baby will sleep best in a fresh, comfy diaper.

I suggest having special diapers that baby wears just for nighttime sleep. We naturally did this because Scarlett needed better absorbency overnight, but we soon discovered that it helped “signal” that it was time for her big sleep, too. Our current favorites for nighttime right now are Pampers Baby Dry. They’re not scratchy and don’t make lots of noise as she moves around! Our second favorites are the Huggies Snug & Dry diapers. (We’ve tried Huggies OverNites a number of times, too…they haven’t worked as well for us yet, though.)

  1. A pacifier, thumb, and/or Lovey makes self-soothing (and by extension, sleep training!) possible.

Babies need some way to soothe themselves. Many moms give their babies a pacifier to do this. Others, like me, were afraid to give baby a paci as breastfeeding wasn’t working yet. Then, some babies refuse a paci. Enter: the glorious, unlosable, perfectly acceptable, there-every-time-baby-needs-it, thumb. Forget the stigmas and go with it if it’s your baby’s preference, mommas. Most people who have a problem with babies sucking their thumbs have actually never had a thumb-sucker themselves…they’ve just “heard things.” Meaning, they don’t actually know it’ll be a horrible habit to end later. They don’t actually know it’ll cause terribly crooked teeth. And they certainly don’t know how easy thumb-suckers can be to deal with…because they have a built-in self-soothing option right there!

Another option when baby’s a bit older, and it’s advised as safe by your pediatrician, is to offer baby a Lovey (blankie or stuffed animal) to help with soothing. These are great transitions away from (or in combination to) the thumb or paci.



  1. Help baby sleep with a full tummy – but not too full!

Don’t nurse or feed baby right before bed if you can help it. You need to break the food-sleep association ASAP to avoid future problems. Just make sure baby’s not hungry at bedtime, or she will not sleep!

  1. Invest in a good-quality, relaxing lotion for baby massage.

I love massaging Scarlett with Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort Lavender Lotion before bedtime, after her bath (with the Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort Lavender Bath…of course!). It calms her – and me!

  1. Find a comfy glider or rocker for baby’s nursery.

The swish, swoosh motion and sound of a glider or rocker offers a comforting rhythm much like that in the womb. It’ll help baby chill before going to bed…and it’s a great place to read to baby, too! We bought the Best Chairs Sutton Swivel Glider, and we love its classy look in Scarlett’s nursery. Plus, it’s super comfy. It is not the best for stain-resistance in the linen color, though – so keep that in mind if considering it for your own nursery!

Set a routine, stay consistent, and reap the benefits of kids that know how to get themselves to sleep and claim the rest their little growing bodies so desperately need!

  1. Get a sleep sack before starting sleep training! You’ll be oh-so-thankful.

Babies are born with a seriously annoying startle reflex called the Moro reflex. This makes them feel as if they’re falling, especially when lying down – so it scares them and wakes them up! (Hence, my describing it as seriously annoying.) Keep this from happening by offering baby extra support for sleep. At first, my daughter HATED being swaddled. I persisted since nothing else was working…and she literally passed out one night for six hours straight after finally stopping the struggle against the swaddle. That’s when I knew this stuff was made with the stuff of magic. It’s the final line of defense against a child that refuses to sleep. And believe it or not…once baby starts rolling over, and you need to “break” her of swaddling, it’s not that hard to stop (even if she’s desperately dependent, like my baby was!).

I loved our swaddles. We had a variety that we used and loved, including an original Halo SleepSack, three Woombies, and a variety of Kiddopotamus (discontinued by manufacturer now) and SwaddleMe swaddles. We loved the SleepSack and Woombies because they have zippers, rather than Velcro, which makes diaper changing at night so much easier and quieter!


There you go, y’all! I hope you are able to take this list and run with it – straight to bed, in preparation for a full night’s sleep.

Set a routine, stay consistent, and reap the benefits of kids that know how to get themselves to sleep and claim the rest their little growing bodies so desperately need!


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11 must-have sleep-training essentials that helped my baby learn to sleep fast! Featured on the Southern Momdays blog


What other items would you suggest for sleep training, ladies?

I’m all ears!


Thanks for reading, y’all.

Andrea signature

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