When I had my firstborn, I had read a lot about sleep props: things that help your child sleep. Sometimes they can be a WONDERFUL thing, but other times, you'll have such a hard time getting rid of the prop, that you may wish you had never used it in the first place.
When I had my daughter, I decided I didn't want her to have a binky because I didn't want to get rid of it later. I had heard too many horror stories about taking a binky away from a child. But, my daughter ended up in the NICU for a week, where they gave her a binky. I was kind of annoyed, but just rolled with it. Let's be honest, I had no idea how to be a mom. If they thought it was a good idea, I wasn't going to argue.
I also remembered that my sister-in-law only let her twins have binkies if they were going to sleep. If they wanted it, they had to go to sleep. Sounded like a good rule to me! So, that's exactly what we did. I didn't want my kid to have a binky during waking hours; I didn't want to keep track of it, clip it to her, or just have to worry about it in general.
About the time my daughter got her first tooth (10 months and 2 days old), I took her binky away. Not only had I read that binkies were incredibly bad for their teeth, but I also read that they didn't need the soothing effects from a binky after they turned six months old. She was a good sleeper, and she just didn't need it anymore. It was way easier than I thought after all the stories I had heard. She had been a little upset about it, but nothing too extreme. She was over it pretty quickly.
So, it turned out to be a great blessing for us. It soothed her to sleep while we were using it, and it didn't end up being a big deal to get rid of it. So 1 for me, 0 for the parenting books. ha.
But binkies aren't the only sleep props. They can be anything from blankets, to stuffed animals, to being swaddled super tight, to being nursed to sleep. And lots of these things are SO helpful.
So I say, feel free to use the snot out of sleep props! Just be mindful that if it's something you need to get rid of, like a binky, you'll want to create a plan/time for doing so. You could try replacing the binky with a different sleep prop such as a stuffed animal, like this super cute Mary Meyer Talls - Flamingo to make the transition easier.
But, there are definitely some sleep props that you'll never have to get rid of. These ones are a little better to use for the long run such as, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. I have a twin who gets really upset when she is tired. The second you hand her her Aden and Anais blanket, she is happy as a clam and falls right to sleep. And anywhere we go, say on vacation, she feels instantly at home because of her familiar blankie. So for me, this is a great sleep prop. If she wants to start taking it to school with her, we may have a problem on our hands. ;)
So, don't let sleep props get in the way. If your child is addicted to a sleep prop, and really needs to break the habit (maybe they still want to breastfeed to go to sleep at ten years old), then change it. But most of the time, sleep props can be a huge help. Just be smart about which one you use and make sure you have a good plan to get rid of the sleep prop when it isn't practical anymore. You got this, mama.
*Sleep is essential. We need sleep to function, to take care of our children, to keep up on every single task life throws at us, to keep our sanity. Are you getting your eight hours or do you have a baby who is keeping you up? Let’s remedy that! In the “Rested Mamas are Happy Mamas” series of our blog, sleep expert Jackie calms all of your sleep woes. Have a question or problem that needs fixing? Comment on the series, and a blog will be published just for you!*