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Having a baby is super exciting. It can also be overwhelming – all the decisions and planning that need to be made to welcome this new human into your life – where do you even start? What are the newborn baby essentials for sleep?

After having three kids myself, my advice is to keep it simple. You have a lifetime to research and plan for what happens at 6 months, a year and into toddlerhood. What you need to focus on right now is, yourself and what you absolutely need to take care of your baby.

For the first three months, also called the 4th trimester, babies really only eat, sleep and poop. Oh, and they cry, a lot (but that’s for another post!) In this post, I’ll review your essentials for newborns when it comes to sleeping. I’ll be continuing with a series of posts that cover: bathing, feeding and changing. Be sure to subscribe to be notified when these posts are up. Now let’s get to it.

Crib or Playard | Playpen | Pack & Play

When baby comes home, you’re obviously going to need a place to put baby down to sleep. Many people go right for a crib; but if you don’t have the space, budget or time to get a crib, then don’t worry, there are other options. With my first, I wanted him near me and ended up putting him in a laundry basket by my bed for the first week or so – don’t judge, it worked great! I was afraid to co-sleep and didn’t have space in our room for anything else. I had a playpen, but it was too big to fit in our room, so at the time, I had no other options.

My little guy’s breathing and gurgles kept me awake so within 4 weeks I moved him to his own room. Since I still didn’t have a crib, I used a playpen that had stages so that the base was higher up and I didn’t have to bend down so far to pick him up/put him down (which would kill my already sore back). I used the playpen for months until we finally got a crib handed down to us from a friend.

Since I didn’t really do any crib shopping, I can’t offer any good recommendations. Basically any safe crib that allows you to adjust the height (at least 2 levels) will do the job. The rest is all about personal preference.

Now, when it comes to playpens (that’s what I call them) I can say that this Graco Travel Lite Crib was one of my faves for small spaces. A couple others I personally like are from 4moms and Joovy


Bassinets are also a good option if you want to keep baby close to your bed, or if you’re not ready to invest in a crib just yet. They’re fairly portable, allowing you to move it around the room or bring it to other areas of your home.

They are the right height and perfect size for putting a tiny newborn down to sleep. Since they are so much smaller than a crib, don’t expect to get more than about 3 months out of yours, depending on the size of your baby.

Favorite Bassinets

Simmons Kids by The Bed City Sleeper

I love that this bassinet can be pulled right up beside your bed. It isn’t bulky and looks pretty darn good.

HALO Swivel Sleeper Bassinet

This bassinet can be placed bedside, it swivels, and with sidewalls that can lower it offers easy access to your newborn.

SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper

If you love the idea of co-sleeping, and worry about safety, this bassinet is perfect. It’s not too bulky to fit on your bed while allowing you to easily keep an eye on your little love.

Now that we’ve covered newborn baby essentials for sleep, there are a few things that are pretty darn nice to have. The next few things I mention are optional, but I’d say most parents end up buying them. Plus, they’re things that will be useful throughout baby’s first year.

White Noise Machine

This can be any kind of white noise maker: an app on your phone, a sleep sheep, a white noise machine. Some babies really find comfort in the white noise; it helps calm them and keep them asleep. It also helps to drown out other household noises that might otherwise wake that little baby you tried so hard to get to sleep.

Favorite White Noise Machines

MyBaby SoundSpa Noise Machine

I’ve used this sound machine for years; for myself and my kids. I like that there’s a timer and various sounds to choose from. All you need.

CloudB Sleep Sheep Travel

I love this little sound machine – it’s perfect if you need something to take with you on the go.

Galaxy Clock Sound Machine

This clock gives you a little bit of everything. It provides soothing sounds, galaxy lights, and the time so you can keep track of all the important things.

Pacifiers | Soothers | Binkies 

Love or hate them, pacifers can be a sanity saver. I personally loved them for my newborns (and older!) My first had a big need to suck, and I remember leaning over the playpen in the middle of the night, just standing there with my little finger in his mouth for what seemed like hours. After a few nights like this, I decided to introduce a pacifier (or soother, as I call them).

It’s important to note, not all soothers are alike and not all babies like all soothers. I think I went through about 5 different kinds and finally found that the Soothie pacifier was what my babe liked. Your baby may not take the soother right away either – I tried for about two weeks before he finally took it, then he never wanted to let it go ? Pacifiers are great for car rides or when someone other than mom needs to watch baby and isn’t too confident in their ability to soothe a crying baby.

Favorite Pacifiers

Soothie Newborn Pacifier

Best pacifier for a newborn. The tip is small for a newborn’s tiny mouth and allows good airflow. The nipple is the same shape all around, so you don’t have to worry if it’s in the right way.

MAM Glow In the Dark Pacifier

MAM pacifier glow in the dark

These are also a fave, the shape helps baby keep the pacifier in his/her mouth. This version glows in the dark, making it easier to find at night.

Wubbanub Pacifier and toy

This pacifier/stuffie combo makes it easy for babies to find and put in their mouth. Plus, it gives them something to play with!

Sleep Sacs 

Since it’s not recommended to have a blanket in bed with baby, and not all babies like to be swaddled, how do you make sure your little one is warm throughout the night? A sleep sac is the answer. They’re available in a variety of different weights (or TOG) and can be used year round, depending on the climate where you live. I LOVED sleep sacs and used them for years with all my babies, even after one year of age (it kept them from climbing out of the crib). My fave are from aden & anais, because they carry lightweight sleep sacs for summer and heavier ones for winter. They’re soft, wash well and come in adorable prints. I also like that with a zipper, you can do a quick diaper change without taking baby out.

Favorite Sleep Sacs

aden and anais sleep sack baby

Adorable prints and 100% cotton muslin fabric make these sleep sacs a must. They provide a thin layer over baby during the summer, with just a diaper underneath, or to keep them cozy over pj’s during the colder months.

Another brand that I love, offering muslin sleep sacs with adorable prints.

Swadde Up Sleep Sack

The snug fit helps keep baby calm, while allowing them to keep their arms up by their face to self-soothe.

Baby Sound/Video Monitor  

I personally think that a baby monitor is optional depending on the size of your home and where baby will be sleeping. And let’s face it, your baby will be by your side for a few months, so the monitor isn’t essential right away. If you’re worried about SIDS, have a baby that had issues during delivery, or with a lot of mucus (as with one of mine) it does give you some peace of mind to be able to hear or see baby when you’re in a different room. I’d say, if you’re in an apartment or a small home where baby will generally be within earshot, then a monitor isn’t something you need to rush out and get right away. That being said, baby monitors are great for your registry. Check out The Bump’s best baby monitor list to see how they all stack up.
Also worth mentioning, is a security blanket, or lovey. This definitely isn’t an essential, but having something that baby can cuddle with, and has a familiar scent, might just be what you and baby need. You can read more about what I look for in a security blanket, or lovey, here.

Now that we’ve covered the must-haves for putting a newborn down to sleep, check back for our next post that will cover newborn baby essentials for feeding (things like nursing pillows, bottles and bibs.) If you don’t want to miss it, be sure to subscribe to stay updated.

Have a newborn sleep essential I haven’t covered here? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. 


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