When it comes to baby products, I'm a big believer in less is more. It can be easy to get caught up in buying every product that claims to be "the best", "magic", or "a must have". When it comes to getting your child to sleep there are only a few products that I would consider necessary, while there are tons that create more problems than they solve. Here are some things that help your child get their best sleep and what to look for when shopping for these items.
This might seem like an obvious one but there are so many unnecessary (and sometimes unsafe) items people put in the crib. All you need in your crib is a firm mattress with a fitted sheet. That's it! You don't need a bumper, a mobile, pillows, toys, or any other distractions for your baby. A crib should be a place your baby wants to sleep and only sleep.
Black Out Shades
Once you have a safe place for your baby to sleep, you want to keep your baby from getting distracted by making the room as dark as possible. This also makes your baby feel like they are back in the safety of the womb. A great way to get the darkest room is to use black out shades or curtains. I find Redi-Shades (found at any home depot, Lowe's, or Amazon) are cheap, easy to install, and do a great job.
Even small lights from electronics can be bright and distracting to your baby. A simple fix is covering them with some black electrical tape. You may also need to block any light coming in from under the door.
White Noise Machine
Now that you have created a safe and dark space for your baby I recommend getting a white noise machine. (I like this one!) This helps calm your baby by emulating the sound of the womb. It is important that your white noise machine plays a sound that is continuous and not something that repeats (e.g. waves and jungle sounds). For a baby, these sounds can be like watching a feature film! Don't forget to cover any light that your white noise machine may produce!
It may seem like I'm over simplifying but it truly is that simple! Any time you introduce a new toy or product to get your child to sleep, you are creating a sleep crutch. (A sleep crutch is something your baby depends on to fall asleep). Setting up their nursery this way will prevent sleep crutches from forming and help them get their best sleep. It will also help signal it is time to sleep and prevent early wakings. So less stuff in the crib, less light in the room, and less outside sounds, means more sleep!