You want a modern solution to raising your kids if you are anything like me. I have two kids under two, and my entire family is happier when everyone is sleeping - my kids are more pleasant, my brain feels like it's working, and my husband and I can have a date on the town when we can confidently hand the monitors to Grandma & Grandpa after bedtime.
A question for you: as a parent, do you have time for the hours of reading books and googling how to get your baby sleeping? Hell no. That’s why I was looking for an app for sleep training. I am modern and chic, baby! So, I made the checklist of things you NEED in a sleep training app, so you don't have to. (I read all the books with my firstborn and struggled to find the best solution, so that's why we created an app for sleep training but let's put that aside for now.)
MUST-HAVE feature set for a sleep training app:
Below is the list of things I would say you must have in a baby sleep training app, and I'll tell you why:
Excellent logging system
You must have an app with logging for health, feeds, diapers, and sleep at a minimum. You will want to track all of these things over time, and it will be incredibly frustrating to move from one system to another. You want a one-stop-shop because you are busy, and explaining what app to use for what log is exhausting.
Expanded sleep logging options
As soon as your child is having a rough night of sleep or undergoing any tiny bit of sleep training, you will want DETAILS on their sleep. When they start and end their nap isn't enough. You want to know how they started in their crib, how they spent their nap, and how it ended. You want to see logging options like calm, fussing, crying, or asleep. Otherwise, did they sleep for 12 hours overnight, or were they asleep for only 6 hours? You will want to know, and any sleep consultant will ask you. It will also be essential for you to be able to see improvement once you start sleep training. Did they cry less? Fall asleep faster? You get the point…
Easily assign your care team their OWN accounts
You want your tribe to have their own accounts because you will want to control the schedule and privacy settings. It will frustrate you if they change it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE and appreciate when my mom steps in to help, but I still want to be the one to decide how/when my baby will sleep during the day, which always has a direct impact on how well she sleeps at night.
A sleep schedule that grows with you
In my opinion, an app that tells you when baby is fussy because they’re TIRED…or to never question when the next nap or bedtime should be is simply amazing. You, of course, want a schedule that will work from the newborn phase (where you use wake windows to predict sleep) through infancy (at 4+ months, a clock-based schedule gets you more predictable naps) and adapt to a toddler. Your app should drop naps for you when it's time, rather than ask you to program it - or even think about it! Essentially, you want to outsource the nap schedule, and it will get you more sleep in the long run. Wake windows on their own will only help you till your baby is four months, and after that, they cause night wakings and early morning wakes.
A sleep schedule that adapts to off days
Take it from me, days go off track when you are a parent, and that's ok. But it gets annoying when your app doesn't tell you what to do. Ensure the app adapts for illness, no nap days, late nap days, and grandma days (love you, Mom).
Timely and helpful notifications
I forget all the time. I want to know when nap time is.
Information on multiple sleep training techniques
I've switched my approach three times for my first baby and chose a different path for my second (Lovebug Limited Crying Program for the win!) You want the facts to decide which approach is best for your family - and zero shaming if you change your approach. Make sure you get information in the app in a way that is easy to get. (I like videos over text)
NICE-TO-HAVE feature set for a sleep training app:
These are the things I would recommend having, but each family is different, so it might not be necessary for you:
Live help available
I did TakingCaraBabies with my first as Lovebug didn't exist, and I loved that I could talk with someone for an extra fee. When the days were rough, or I had a BAD night and NEEDED help, someone was there to answer my questions. Your sleep training app should give you access to their own sleep consultants. You don't want to be outsourced to another company. They should be able to see your account and talk directly with you about how to modify the approaches for your family. And it would be best if you got live calls AND email support. But, if you don't want that, don't pay for it!
Video Lessons instead of text
I already talked about this, but reading is boring for me. I like videos. I want to do laundry and listen to our sleep coach Jenica tell me what to do. I want to watch them at 3 am when I'm breastfeeding and be able to send them to my husband to watch with a tap of a finger. I like that it's entertainment as much as it is actionable. But if you prefer reading or pulling out your computer, that's cool - we can still be friends.
Changing sleep plan as your baby grows
A newborn is very different than a baby, and a baby is very different than a toddler. The entire set of information should change for these different phases. And, look for tips and tricks on how to solve every leap in the Wonder Weeks App, not just explains it.
Integrates with Alexa
We use voice in our home. I want to tell Alexa, “the baby is sleeping!” hands-free to log a nap with my voice when I have my hands full.
I hope that list helps! You are the one who will be choosing the strategies for your family, and I hope you use my experience to make yours a little brighter!