Written by Doctor G

Sleep Aids for Kids – What’s Safe?

When our daughter was born it was recommended to have a sound machine to comfort the baby like being in mom. Now my daughter is almost 2 years old and we still use the sound machine. Does a toddler get a good nights rest with a sound machine on? Until what age do you recommand using a sound machine?

Sean, in CA

Sean, if the sound machine helps her (and therefore you and her mom) get a full night’s sleep, I’d say you should use it until she’s 18 and moves out.

Seriously, there are very few downsides to this kind of soothing. Many adults sleep with a little “white noise” in the background to drown out interruptions from the street, upstairs neighbors or house sounds.

If your toddler is sleeping, she is getting good rest at this age. Most toddlers can sleep pretty comfortably through a world war (or 3 other brothers screaming their heads off, in my house). If she is waking up in a reasonable mood and you haven’t seen major behavior changes or lots of mild illnesses, I think she is sleeping fine.

The only real problem comes when you need her to fall asleep somewhere without the noise machine. What about if she sleeps over (with or without you) at Grandma’s? Or if you take a trip with her? Sometimes it is not reasonable to bring the noise machine along. If this is worrying you, try seeing if she can fall asleep without it.

If she struggles to sleep without it, you can turn it on, and then come back in when she is very sleepy but not asleep and turn it off, let her get used to the process of falling all the way asleep without it. Or you can use something more mild for a little background noise, like a fan. As she gets used to the changes, she will probably be fine falling asleep in new “sound” situations.

A noise machine or fan is a fine way to help babies and young children go to sleep. Some soothing music is good too. Just a reminder to avoid the more problematic “sleep aids” like TV, a bottle with anything besides water, or letting them fall asleep each night somewhere else and then carting them in to bed. All of these can present different problems and make it harder to get a good night’s sleep for the whole family.

What good tricks have you found to get young kids to sleep?

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