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10 of the best baby sleep toys and projectors to soothe and settle

Are you and your baby in desperate need of a good night’s rest? We use parent recommendations to round up the best toys to help them drift off to sleep

best sleep toys

A decent night’s sleep is the holy grail for most parents of young babies. Which means that any gadget that helps send your little one off to the Land of Nod is worth its weight in gold. Of course, what calms one baby might not work for another. (My baby son wouldn’t snooze until at least two rounds of a calming Brahms lullaby on his over-cot mobile – my daughter, on the other hand, was happier clutching her favourite soft teddy.)

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Luckily, there’s a wide range of toys and ingenious sleep aids on the market designed to help your baby drift off, and keep sleep-starved parents sane in the process. These include cuddly toys that incorporate soothing heartbeats (similar to those your baby encountered in the womb), or emit a reassuring glow. You can buy projectors that beam glittering star-scapes, and numerous sleep aids feature sensors that switch sounds back on whenever your baby stirs (to save you getting up in the night, yet again).

The below sleep aids have all been tested by babies and rated by their parents – we’ve rounded up the most effective ones you can buy.

What to look for when buying a sleep aid toy

Does it have sounds and music? – As well as thudding heartbeats and tinkly lullabies, many aids play white noise-type sounds to induce sleep – from simple static to lapping ocean waves or gentle rainfall. Also look for ‘pink noise’ options, a restful mix of high and low frequencies shown to be softer and less abrasive than white noise.

Variety of sounds – Will the same lullaby every night drive you and baby mad after a few weeks, or will they like the familiarity? It might be wise to have a few different ones to rotate through. Similarly, one baby might drop off like a stone when they hear a waterfall, another might prefer the sound of snoring, so the more options the better.

Lights – Newborn babies aren’t afraid of the dark – but a soothing light pattern might still help induce a relaxed state conducive to slumber, and many toys incorporate an in-built nightlight. Look for a soft glow rather than dazzling brightness, and, as with volume, ideally choose one that’s adjustable.

Battery life – Will you spend a small fortune on batteries if you rely on your baby’s sleep aid every night? Can the device be easily charged from the mains, or could you invest in rechargeable batteries?

Portability – A sleep aid you can pop in the buggy or take to granny’s house can be a godsend, especially if it’s something they start refusing to sleep without. Check for handy loops and straps – a simple detail that means your sleep aid can be easily attached to cots, car seats or prams.

How to use a sleep aid toy safely

Up until your baby is 12 months old, it’s important to keep their cot, crib, Moses basket or baby box clear of any toys while they are sleeping, as they can pose a suffocation risk.

You can place your sleep toy outside your baby’s sleeping space or if you’re using a mobile, make sure it’s safely fitted so your baby can’t grab it and pull it down.

If you do place the toy in your baby’s sleep space for a short time while they nod off, supervise them the whole time and remove it once they’re asleep.

How much should I expect to pay for a sleep aid toy?

Given the value most of us place on a good night’s shuteye – and how difficult prolonged sleep deprivation feels for new parents – it’s not surprising that there is a huge range of sleep aids out there.

Basic sleep aid toys can cost from a few pounds for a simple comforter. However, most decent-quality electronic sound and music options typically set you back £25-£30-plus. Some very stylish models, or those featuring new technology, can cost as much as £60 or £70. That might seem excessive, but, if you can afford it, when your baby nods off you’ll possibly feel it’s worth every penny.

Here’s our pick of the best sleep aid toys for babies:

1. Sweet Dreamers Ewan the Dream Sheep, £29.99

– Best for soothing sounds

Age suitability: From birth | Sounds: Yes | Light: Yes | Machine washable: Yes, at 30°C | Battery operated: 3 x AAA (not included)

The original Ewan is a firm favourite with exhausted parents desperate for relief when evening swings around. A sheep with fleecy cuddle factor, his USP is a choice of soothing white and pink noises, including rainfall, a vacuum cleaner (that failsafe baby slumber aid), gentle harps and ‘womb music’ – all sound-tracked to a calming heartbeat. Ewan’s tummy also glows a soft, reassuring pink.

We love how this upgraded Ewan also now includes an ingenious human voice saying ‘shush’ – designed to preserve mum and dad’s vocal cords (and sanity). The sounds switch off automatically after 20 minutes, and this model features a smartCRY sensor that sends Ewan into soothe mood when baby stirs, saving you the hassle of resettling.

Our MFM tester, Lucy, gave Ewan high praise after using it with her 2-month-old. “I’d definitely recommend Ewan as it does help soothe my baby to sleep,” she said. The cry recognition mode is very clever, and I’d imagine this will be good when she’s a little older and in her own room. The pink light is also very soothing.”

Another plus – Ewan is ultra-portable, with Velcro tails to attach him to cots or car seats. And you can now machine wash him (after removing the sensor). The only downside? Our MFM tester Vicki found Deluxe Ewan less easy to use than the original. “Having to press the button inside the ‘stomach’ to activate is much harder than just pressing a foot,” she reported.

Pros: Cuddly and soft, portable, human ‘shush’ sound, machine washable
Cons: Some find the stomach button fiddly

Available from: Sweet Dreamers, Amazon, Smyths Toys

2. Infantino 3-in-1 projector musical mobile, £39.99

– Best for versatility

Age suitability: From birth| Motion: Yes | Sounds: Yes | Projections: Yes | Light: Yes | Battery operated: 3 x AAA (not included)

A mobile can be a brilliant way to soothe overtired infants – the sound and motion hypnotises and helps distract from other matters (sore tummies, hunger pangs). Plus they can form part of a familiar bedtime routine. This cute number features a bear, owl and star in tastefully muted colours – so won’t over-stimulate – with an impressive choice of 6 different melodies and 4 nature sounds. It also projects a pretty starry backdrop on walls and ceilings, which reviewers reported their babies loved to gaze at (and mums enjoyed too).

Our MFM testers found it easy to set up. Amy, mum to a 7-month-old baby boy, said, “He really liked the soothing lights and different melodies. I also found it kept him occupied for short periods of time during the day when I needed to do things around the house.”

Where this mobile scores most highly is on longevity and amazing multifunctionality. Once your baby outgrows the mobile stage (6 months plus), toys can be detached so you can use it as a crib night light/projector. Later, this converts to a tabletop light and projector (for ages 18 months plus, when those fears of the dark often set in). There’s a wake-up mode that simulates daylight and a handy auto-off function, too.

Fellow MFM tester Lauren, mum to a 3-year-old and a baby, said, I love the fact it’s not just a one-trick-pony and the fact both my baby and my 3- year-old can enjoy it, with multiple uses.” In fact, her only criticism was that the projector could have been a little brighter.

Pros: Varied sound choice, pretty projections, fantastic longevity – eventually converts to a tabletop light for toddlers
Cons: Projections could be brighter

Available from: Amazon, Argos

3. Bebies – Dusty Sleep Aid, £34.99

– Best for comfort

Age suitability: From birth | Sounds: Yes | Nightlight: No | Machine washable: Yes  | Battery operated: AAA batteries included (option to buy an Infapower Charger With Rechargeable Batteries for £14.99)

Bebies’ sleep toys combine the touchy-feely softness of a cloth comforter – that time-tested bedtime buddy – with soothing noise. Like many of our other choices, what makes Bebies so brilliant is the attention to detail – there’s a glow-in-the-dark tag, a dummy holder, an in-built sensor that triggers white noise if baby wakes at 3am, and loops that play for either 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes. This sleep aid even has a built-in mic, so you can record your own choice of soothing sounds.

Our MFM reviewer Zoe, tried it out with her 2-month-old baby, and was impressed. “The toy is lovely and soft, and the face is very graphic,” she said. “He dropped off to sleep but woke up each time the lullaby ended (I set it to 15 minutes). But I just pressed the ear so as soon as the lullaby started again, he drifted off again. If used every day, it could be a great naptime cue to help establish a routine.”

The only drawback was the potential for noise, if dropped. “The internal electronic case that makes all the lovely soothing noises does make a clattering noise if it falls onto a hard floor, which could wake a baby up,” Zoe pointed out. She also found the volume of her personalised recorded message wasn’t as loud as it might be. “It was very quiet, even on the lowest setting.”

Pros: Personalised recording option, classic comforter design plus electronics
Cons: Volume could be louder, hard internal case clatters if dropped

Available from: Bebies

4. Zed Sleep Aid, £29.99

– Best for soothing vibrations

Age suitability: From birth | Sounds: No | Light: Yes | Vibrations: Yes | Battery operated: 2 x AA (not included)

It’s not just soft lights and sounds that induce sleep. Vibrations also have an effect – think of the infuriating way your baby instantly nods off during car journeys. That’s where the Zed sleep soother comes in: a robot-shaped gadget that replicates exactly those in-vehicle calming vibrations. It features 6 different levels so you can find one that suits – simply lay Zed on the mattress by your baby’s feet, and it does its magic, creating a ‘virtual car ride’ using special inbuilt motors, and hopefully inducing a deep slumber.

Overall our testers felt this was a solid, sturdy device. MFM tester Daniele, mum to a young baby, said, “Zed is a robust, portable, discreet and versatile sleep aid for babies that respond well to motion.” She found the motion setting most effective – this “mimics the sensation of being in a moving vehicle, or an off-road buggy walk”.

Our testers also reckoned the built-in night-light in the ‘head’ was a nice touch, with 3 brightness levels. Worried about vibrations being full-on all night? Fear not, the Zed mirrors your baby’s sleep cycles, fading out after an hour.

Pros: Original alternative to music and lights, easily portable, works on any mattress
Cons: Not all babies respond to vibrations, not soft to touch

Available from: Amazon, Rockit

5. Skip Hop Cry Activated Soother, £35.99

– Best for soft touch

Age suitability: From birth | Sounds: Yes | Lights: No | Machine washable: Yes (remove sound module first) | Battery operated: 3 x AA (included)

This pastel unicorn might look like a regular cuddly toy. In fact, it’s a smart sleep aid which plays songs, nature sounds (including our favourite, the sound of waves) and a heartbeat. It can even record your voice to offer your baby extra reassurance.

As with many similar sleep aids, the cry-activated smart sensor also responds when your baby cries. MFM tester Anna enthused: “I liked that it has a soft toy element to it – I think this will quickly become a favourite toy that grows with the child.”

Some users felt that the sounds were a little on the loud side. But the cry activation mode was a hit with certain reviewers on John Lewis.com. Reviewers also liked the fact it can be easily hooked on the side of a crib or cot. Overall, however, it was the soft toy element our testers loved best. “It’s really sweet, and nice that you can have it as a soft toy as your child gets older,” said MFM tester and mum Tara.

The Skip Hop Cry Activated Soother comes in a couple of cute designs – including an adorable Sloth – so it’s one that might be influenced by looks as well as function.

Pros: Soft, cute design, choice of sounds including voice recording
Cons: On the loud side, can’t bypass first 20 minutes of sounds

Available from: John Lewis, Amazon

6. Tommee Tippee Rechargeable Light and Sound Sleep Aid, £40

– Best rechargeable option

Age suitability: From birth | Sounds: Yes | Lights: Yes | Machine washable: No | Rechargeable: Via USB cable, no batteries needed | Award: MadeForMums Awards 2020, Night-Time Comforter/Sleep Aid – Gold

This charming sleep aid comes in an adorable owl design, and looks gorgeous hanging on a cot side. With gentle glowing lights and calming lullabies and sounds (including a heartbeat, rainfall and white noise static), our testers reported this genuinely helped soothe fractious infants when bedtime beckoned.

They also liked how it turns itself after 20 minutes of action, allowing babies to remain snoozing. Plus the lights can be adjusted so they help, not hinder, your baby’s slumber. It’s another aid featuring a smart cry sensor (springing into life when baby stirs).

Perhaps its biggest appeal, however, is that this device recharges via a USB cable – unlike so many similar sleep aids on the market, which can eat through expensive batteries alarmingly fast.

Our MFM tester Kelly liked it so much she has bought it as a present for all her friends expecting babies. MFM tester Jade added, “My little boy loved this. He literally put his head to the pillow when we turned it on. There are different strengths of light, which is brilliant and the sound quality is really good – [it] even made mummy and daddy sleepy!” A sleep aid for the whole family – what more could you ask for.

Pros: Recharges using a USB cable, adjustable lights, sounds not obtrusive
Cons: Surface wipe only

Available from: John Lewis, Amazon

7. Fisher Price Soothe & Snuggle Otter, £29.99

– Best ‘breathing’ action

Age suitability: From birth | Sounds: Yes | Lights: Yes | Machine washable: Yes (remove electronics first) | Battery operated: 4 x AA (included)

Another sleep aid with calming sounds, this reclining otter stands out from the crowd thanks to its light-up ‘breathing’ tummy, which gently rises and falls. The thinking is the simulated breathing helps anxious babies feel safer and less alone. This adorable-looking toy also scores points thanks to sheer cute factor alone.

It’s another sleep aid with a satisfying sound menu – here heartbeat, white noise and a soft snoring sound to accompany the breathing. It also plays a sweet rendition of Twinkle Twinkle, and the volume is adjustable.

Our testers found the otter to be highly effective, with the breathing simulation much more than a mere gimmick. MFM tester Hayley was a big fan. She reported, “I’ve had trouble with getting my 4-month-old settled at night and this sends him right off. He loves the softness of it and likes to stroke it when falling asleep. The soothing music and the breathing function is perfect to make my baby feel as though he has me next to him. Very much worth the money.”

Samuel, dad to a 2-month-old, was also very happy. “We already own Ewan the Sheep and we believe the Snuggle Otter to be a better choice,” he raved. “It has more features and we found the breathing function helped to settle Zack a lot quicker than Ewan.”

Pros: Unique breathing action, cute design, very soft
Cons: No cry sensor, some users report finding the breathing mechanics slightly noisy

Available from: Smyths Toys, Amazon

8. Snüz Cloud, £29.95

– Best for style

Age suitability: From birth | Sounds: Yes | Nightlight: Yes | Machine washable: No, surface clean only | Battery operated: 3 x AAA (not included)

This cuddly snoozing cloud instantly gains plaudits for its super-stylish looks, which were a real hit with our testers – including those rosy glowing cheeks. Snüz features a handy strap that means it can be hung over cot sides, as well as attached to a car seat or buggy.

It’s a simple but effective design that won’t overwhelm you with functions you might well never use. There’s no cry sensor, but some parents find these can be unreliable so it’s down to personal choice – and that means it’s a little cheaper than some comparable sleep aids.

The sound menu includes heartbeat, pink noise, a lullaby and a waterfall. There are also 2 light options: soft white and calming pink. It’s compact too, so easy to take with you – ideal if you want to make sure your little one naps during holidays or time at relatives’ houses.

Testers reported this was an effective choice, in particular commenting on this cloud’s huggability. “My baby loves the music and the heartbeat the best” said MFM tester Kimberly. “Soft to the touch and the pink lights really make the room glow.” MFM tester, Sarah, added, “My little boy always responded to the sounds when they came on and he settled very well in his Moses basket when it was playing.”

Pros: Portable, simple to use, good value, lovely stylish looks
Cons: Not as many sounds as some sleep aids, no cry sensor,

Available from: Amazon, John Lewis, Snüz

9. myHummy Lucas, £69.95

– Best for Bluetooth controls

Age suitability: From birth | Sounds: Yes | Lights: No | Machine washable: Yes | Battery operated: 3 x AAA (not included)

MyHummy are known for their superior-quality, bear-shaped sleep aids. They have lovely story-book appearances that will appeal to those with classic tastes.

MyHummy’s USP is a focus on soft noises to whisk babies off to dreamland – the 5 sounds here include white noise and warmer, softer pink noise. They’ll play automatically for an hour, or 12 hours unless manually switched off – a plus if your baby jerks awake once comforting background sounds vanish. Sounds also restart thanks to a sound sensor if baby whimpers. The only downside is that a long playing time will mean those triple A batteries get used up faster.

Another other appeal is a Bluetooth option, which hooks the toy up to an app. That potentially saves parents running up and down stairs the moment baby grumbles – they can simply switch them on while relaxing in front of Netflix.

The price tag of MyHummy’s products is admittedly steep – right at the top end of the sleep-aid spectrum. But as with other MyHummy products, parent reviewers on Amazon report they’re worth it because they actually work. One buyer who bought myHummy Lucas said they “would not be without now and it’s really helped our little one settle at night time”.

Pros: Cute design, pink noise is a proven sleep inducer, bluetooth
Cons: Higher price point, no light

Available from: Amazon, John Lewis

10. Chicco First Dreams Baby Bear, £24.99

– Best for value

Age suitability: From birth | Sounds: Yes | Lights: No | Machine washable: Yes | Battery operated: 3 x AAA (not included)

Chicco’s machine-washable teddy bear features 3 different light effects, including ceiling projection as well as 30 minutes of sound with a choice of classical, jazz, soft rock and modern new-age soothing melodies.

We’re particularly impressed by the varied music, which is loved by babies and easy on parents’ ears, too! Plus the easy-to-activate and tactile tummy pad is great for toddlers.

MFM tester Samantha, mum to 2-month-old Taran, added, “As soon as the bear came out of the box, Taran’s face lit up! He’d not given that reaction to a toy before. I was pleasantly surprised by the classy music choices, which, even after a week of playing, have not become annoying.”

MFM tester Alyssa, mum to 4-month-old Hallie, added, “Haile likes the music, as it’s very soft and relaxing. And I love that this is machine-washable!”

Available from: Amazon, Uber Kids, Very

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About the author

Cheryl Freedman has been working as a journalist for 20 years, and began writing about parenting when her son was a baby back in 2009. She’s written reviews and features for MFM, testing everything from booster seats to strollers and writing guides to breast-feeding, infant nutrition and more.

She lives in east London with her husband and 2 children, and loves exploring the forest on family bike rides, day trips out of the city and spending time at the allotment, with a flask of a coffee in hand.

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