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I remember when my baby was born, I just kept staring at her in awe, thinking to myself “I can’t believe she’s mine”.
The first few days, I didn’t mind the around the clock wakeups because every moment with her was a gift.
However, this initial charm wore off after a few days and I became EXHAUSTED.
As much as we love our babies and spending time with them, it’s so important for both them and for us to help them sleep better with these sleep tips.
Importance of Sleep
During the first year of life, your baby will undergo drastic changes physically and emotionally. As parents, it’s our job to nurture and guide our babies as much as we can.
Sleep is vital for both babies and for moms.
Sleep is a time of rapid brain development. All of the new skills that your baby is learning during awake hours become concrete while they sleep.
Also, sleep is necessary to help balance mood and prevent irritability.
Babies may not be able to verbalize when they’re tired, but they can show us by crying more, throwing fits, and just being plain old unhappy.
Learn how to help your baby sleep with these simple sleep tips.
You and your baby will benefit from a good night’s sleep.
Apply these sleep tips to help your baby sleep better and develop on track.
(Source: John Hopkins Medicine)
Safe Sleep Environment
One of the most important things to consider when you’re putting your baby down to sleep is where they’re sleeping.
Although nobody wants to think about it, babies do die regularly from unsafe sleep practices.
In order to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), it’s super important to make sure you’re always placing your baby in a safe place for naps and bedtime.
Babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep and without any loose toys, loose blankets, or crib bumpers.
Also, babies should be placed on a firm, flat surface.
This includes SNOO Smart Sleeper, Pack n Play, or a Crib.
Car seats, rockers, bouncers, or in the bed with you are NOT considered to be safe.
Lastly, babies should sleep in the same room as their parents for the first six months to a year.
How To Help Your Baby Sleep
Wait Before Going to Get Your Baby
As new moms, we want nothing more than to provide love and comfort for our babies. We can’t help but to jump up at the sound of their cries and try to meet their needs right away.
However, sometimes this immediate response may be causing more harm than good.
When your baby wakes in the middle of the night, try to wait a few minutes before rushing to their side.
This gives them an opportunity to learn to self soothe and calm down on their own.
If you rush in right away, they won’t get the chance to learn how to go back to sleep on their own and they’ll rely on you every time.
Put Baby Down Awake
When you place your baby down for a nap or bedtime, don’t wait until they’re completely asleep.
Instead, try to put them down when they’re drowsy but still awake. This will help them learn to doze off on their own without needing to be in your arms.
Again, this is helpful when they awaken in the middle of the night. They’ll learn that they can close their eyes and go back to sleep without needing to be rocked or nursed.
As your baby gets older, they become much more aware of what’s happening around them. During the first 12 weeks of life, your baby can sleep through anything.
Dogs barking, vacuums rumbling, you name it.
However, once they get a little older, they become much more aware of their surroundings.
If you stay up after their bedtime, they may fight sleep for want of staying up with you.
Invest in a good sound machine to help drown out other sounds within the house. This way if you stay up later than your baby or wake up earlier, they won’t be tempted to join you each day.
Blackout curtains are a must, especially during the summertime. People naturally wake up to the sunlight and get tired in the dark.
This is called our circadian rhythm.
Although new babies aren’t born with a circadian rhythm in place, over a few weeks, we gradually help them develop these sleep patterns.
If your baby happens to awaken early when it’s already bright out, their brain may think it’s time to get up, even if it’s only 5 am.
Look for high-quality curtains that will keep the sunlight out and help your baby sleep later.
Sleepsuits and Swaddles
Sleep blankets are a must to help your baby sleep better. New babies transition from the comfort of living inside your warm and dark womb to being out in the big cold world.
Sleepsuits and swaddles provide your baby with the familiar comfort of being back in the womb.
They keep your baby warm and feel like they’re being hugged all night long.
Make sure that your baby’s arms are free once they’re old enough to roll over so your baby doesn’t get stuck in an uncomfortable position.
We loved this sleep sack which adjusted as our baby grew.
This sleepsack not only kept our baby warm and comforted, but also provides gentle weight for added comfort.
The added weight is meant to mimic a parent’s hand providing gentle pressure. Once we started using this, our baby went from a night owl, to sleeping beauty!
I love this sleep sack because our baby was able to roll as she got bigger, but was still warm and snug all night.
Be Boring in the Middle of the Night
If your baby does still nurse or eat in the middle of the night, try to be as boring as possible.
This can be really challenging when your adorable baby is looking at you and smiling, but really try to resist the temptation.
Try to avoid talking or engaging with your baby. Stick to business and put them right back to bed.
This will send the memo that it’s not time to play and it’s still night time.
You don’t want to get your baby excited and energized in the middle of the night. Otherwise, they may be up for a long time.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Babies love to have a routine and like to know what’s coming next. Create a bedtime routine that’s 15-30 minutes long and follow it each night.
Start as young as possible and try to stick to it.
Your routine should involve some quiet activities such as reading, saying a prayer, or singing a lullaby. Bathtime can be part of the routine as well as a gentle massage with lotion each night.
Our routine always began either with a bath on bath nights, or putting on lotion and pajamas. After that, we snuggle, read stories for a few minutes, and then off to bed.
Whatever you choose, try to use the same routine each night.
This way, once your routine begins, your baby will be able to recognize that playtime’s over and it’s time to settle down for bed.
Skip Diaper Changes At Night-Time
If you’re still nursing your baby in the middle of the night, try to avoid night time diaper changes.
I know this may be shocking to hear, but if it’s just pee, it can wait.
A wet diaper doesn’t bother your baby, but a cold diaper change will. If it’s just a little bit of urine, wait to change their diaper until the morning.
However, if your baby poops, definitely change their diaper right away. This can lead to skin break down and diaper rashes, which are not fun or helpful for sleep.
Learn Your Baby’s Sleepiness Cues
During the first few months, babies aren’t on a set routine. That’s why as parents we need to learn how to read our babies and learn their sleepiness cues.
Sleep cues are signs that our babies are tired and getting ready for a nap. You want to try to put your baby down when you first start noticing sleep cues, otherwise you will end up with an overtired baby.
When babies get overtired, they have more difficulty falling asleep and may skip the nap altogether.
Typical sleep cues are:
- rubbing eyes
- looking away from you or toys
Once you see these sleep cues, start working your way towards bedtime or a nap.
Baby Sleep Tips
Always remember, every baby is completely different and what works for one baby may not work for another.
Learn what works best for you and your baby and stick with it.
During your baby’s first year, there will be loads of changes to their sleep habits. Your baby will reach milestones at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months, they’ll go through teething, and may even catch their first cold.
Learn to be flexible, but remember, these years don’t last forever.
The most important thing is that you and your baby are resting and growing together.
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