Sleep is one of those things we long for after we have a baby since we don’t get very much of it. We have to be careful what expectations we have for our new little ones but here are a few tips to try and get maybe 2 hrs of sleep between feedings.
- Don’t be afraid to disturb the baby if it’s fallen asleep feeding. Babies love to fall asleep while feeding so many of us are afraid that if we disturb them, they won’t go to sleep. It’s actually the opposite if they have a full tummy. If you put the down gently right after a feeding, they start to associate feedings with sleep. This makes babies think that the only way they can get to sleep is with something in their mouth. This also means you probably didn’t do a very good job burping so they will usually wake up in 45 minutes or so with gas.
- Swaddle your baby. After you are finished a good feeding and burped your baby, swaddle them tight. Babies really enjoy the feeling of being held and most of the time we don’t mind this at all. The trouble is that babies get used to sleeping in our arms and tend to wake up 10 minutes after we put them down. The reason is they now don’t feel that security of being held. Swaddling gives them that comfort without you holding them. The trick with swaddling is to use a stretchy blanket and to do it tight. Babies don’t like to be half swaddled. Do it tight and they will love it.
- Get some white noise. You can download something onto an iPad or buy a machine from the store but get some noise in the room where baby sleeps. It was never quite in your tummy. There was your heartbeat, your tummy digesting and lots of other sounds. This is why many parents say their babies sleep pretty well in the daytime but are up every hour or so at night. What happens is they complete a sleep cycle and when they come into a light sleep they wake up because there is no noise. The trick with the white noise is to have it constantly on while baby sleeps and every time, not just at night. Don’t do it at night but not in the day. Do it every single time baby sleeps. The other trick is to have it almost as loud as a vacuum. Seems extreme but give it a try.
- Be consistent. Try not to have baby sleep in different areas of the house at different times of the day. If you want them to sleep in a bassinet a night, then put them in the bassinet in the daytime too. This helps them to get used to their sleeping space and feel more relaxed there.
- Have a sleep routine. It may seem silly to think this is important for a newborn but it definitely is. Many parents talk about schedules and routines and think they are the same thing. A schedule is based on timing of things and a routine is a familiar sequence of events. Schedules may work for some babies but most seem to want to do their own thing. A routine on the other hand, is something that allows your baby to have an idea of what to expect next. There are many things you can have routines for such as a feeding routine, changing routine, bathing routine and most importantly a sleep routine. A great routine would be to finish the feeding with burping, go into the room where baby sleeps and have a hall light on so it’s not too bright. Turn on the white noise, swaddle the baby tight, close the door and cuddle until baby is nice and relaxed or asleep. This may not work every time but its important to try to do it as consistently as possible, no matter who is putting baby down.
- Get other people involved. Partners can be a great help with getting babies used to falling asleep in other ways than feeding. Talk to your partner about what the sleep routine will be and take turns doing it. Sometimes as moms we are just so tired that we skip steps (like burping, changing or swaddling for example) but then baby is up sooner. Try to get help so you can be more rested and have a bit more patience.
Sleep is a controversial topics. It is important to understand that every baby and family is different. The above tips are just some of the things that worked for me as well as my clients. It’s okay if you decide that you want to co-sleep and this works well for you. It’s okay to decide not to swaddle. As long as whatever you are doing is working for you-that’s great! Mix and match things until you find what works. Also keep in mind that babies sleep habits change at different stages of development too. You may have to adjust things along the way.
Sweet dreams from me to you.