Your baby has been up all night crying, you’ve stepped past delirium and are about to lose your mind from lack of sleep. As new parents, we’ve all been there. The most difficult time can be the first 6-8 weeks because thats when baby’s gut is changing and they’re developing and adapting to being outside of the womb. With a little bit of guidance and awareness of your baby’s sleep patterns, we’re going to help you take back your nights. Here are the top sleep tips and suggestions for new moms from sleep expert, Jessica Bryant of Sleep Happy Consulting.
1. Notice your baby’s Sleep Q’s
When your baby is quiet and disinterested in her surroundings, this means melatonin is peaking and it’s time to go to bed. Timing is everything…when you notice the first sign of sleepiness, make sure to place baby in her crib straight away because the melatonin in her system is elevating and her brain and body will be primed to drift off with less fuss. If you wait too long, however, your infant may become overtired. This means she not only will have lower melatonin levels, but her brain begins to release wakefulness hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, making it difficult for baby to get to sleep and stay asleep.
2. Its Okay if Baby Wakes up Frequently
Newborns have two sleep states: active sleep which is close to adults’ REM sleep and quiet sleep (similar to our non-REM sleep). Babies spend more time in active sleep from 2 to 6 am so during that time they they are more likely to wake if they are hungry, cold, wet, or startled by not breathing. Their sleep cycles are shorter than ours and therefore they experience partial arousal every hour or so. There’s a biological reason for the waking, it is for survival – in order for children to grow, they need to eat and therefore need to wake to eat.
3. Don’t Give Up on Swaddling
Many new parents will tell you they’ve tried swaddling but their baby disliked it. But, sleep changes so much in the early weeks and what baby doesn’t like at 5 days might work in 5 weeks. Try different swaddling styles like the Miracle Blanket which wraps snugly around or Swaddle up, which lets your baby keep her hands up by her face. Baby Merlin and Halo also have high success rates.
4. Take Turns
If you have a partner, take turns. Maybe you go to bed at 10pm and sleep until 2am and your partner takes the early morning shift. Even if you wake to nurse, let your partner handle the diaper change before and any soothing after. This way you’ll both get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, which can make a big difference.
5. Avoid Overstimulation
Try and wind the entire family down before bed. A trip to the grocery store right before a nap might make for one overstimulated baby so give them a longer wind down if you want them to nap. New babies are sensitive to different factors. If it’s too hot, they won’t want to sleep (keep the temp between 68-72 degrees for the most comfortable sleep). If your child is highly sensitive and their pj’s are itchy or the detergent you’re using is bothering their skin, this could impact their sleep. Be sure to take stock of their sleep environment and adjust accordingly.
6. Drown Out Wound With…Sound
Blackout shades and a white noise machine muffle the noise and light from the outside, which can transform the nursery into an environment similar to the womb. Half of a baby’s sleep state is REM, which is the light sleep stage where dreams occur, so baby can wake up easily to any outside noise, making a sound machine key. Be sure to test outside volume by standing outside the nursery door talking. The white noise machine should muffle the voice but not drown it out completely.
7. Top 3 Sleep Training Tools
Tummy time or lying baby flat on back: This is important because it’s a sensory adjustment to adapt to how it feels lying flat on their back in a crib. The earlier you can start adjusting them, the better!
Motion Nap: use a carrier or go on a car ride. Most babies before the age of 6 months need at least one motion nap a day and its rare to see a baby at this age taking all their naps in a crib. Switch up your naps, maybe you snuggle a nap, use a carrier for another, and get out in the stroller for another nap.
Ferber Method: a technique to solve infant sleep problems. It trains infants to self sooth by allowing the baby to cry for a predetermined amount of time before receiving external comfort. Some families start at 4 months old and others wait until over a year old.
Mama’s, what are your most helpful sleep tools and techniques? Share with us in the comments below!
For more information about sleep – including creating a nighttime routine and sleep training techniques, visit www.sleephappyconsulting.com