My Baby is Fussy! : Sleep Tips from the Experts
We know that parents lose on average 44 days of sleep in their baby's first year of life. With sleep deprivation contributing to postpartum depression and general day-to-day struggles, it's no wonder parents are looking for a solution.
The ever elusive newborn sleep...we are forever chasing it and looking for new tips and tricks to help encourage rest. While newborn sleep is notoriously unpredictable and it's difficult to make your baby sleep, there are things we use when we care for them overnight that encourage a deeper, long stretch of sleep.
Hot Tip 1: Keep Daytime Wakeful Periods Short
While it seems counter-intuitive, sleep begets sleep. The longer a baby is awake the less peacefully they'll often sleep, especially in the early months. As a rule of thumb, baby should be awake for 1-2 hours for the first few weeks until they show signs they're ready to be awake for longer stretches of time.
Common signs of baby being sleepy are rubbing eyes, yawns, and light fussiness. Once baby has passed those stages into crying they're often much harder to soothe! The goal is to help lull baby to sleep before they reach the crying stages.
Hot Tip 2: Swaddle, Swaddle, Swaddle
A swaddle is a caregiver's best friend. For the first few months, babies respond to the startle reflex. It's ingrained in our brains from birth! Swaddles help to keep baby from jerking around and waking themselves up. A proper and safe swaddle is tight and gives baby room around their hips for their legs to move.
While swaddle blankets used to be a popular choice, new parents and inexperienced swaddlers often find it easiest to use a swaddle sack. These handy pieces of baby gear are definitely a favorite of ours (see our top baby sleep products here!). The goal is to keep baby snug and warm to help replicate the environment they experienced before birth.
Hot Tip 3: Dim the Lights
Our brains are wired to respond to, you guessed it, light! Keeping lights bright at night often will disturb baby's rest and leave them unable to reach REM sleep (the restorative sleep necessary for development). During the day lights are great for helping baby differentiate between day and night. Baby's goal bedtime should be between 7 and 8 PM, though, and sometimes that means light outside.
Our best tip for limiting lights during bedtime are blackout curtains! With options ranging from full curtains to panels you can install behind your current decor, there are countless ways you can dress baby's nursery to block out the sunshine and let them sleep more soundly.
Hot Tip 4: Try a Routine
The routine offered in the popular book, "On Becoming Babywise", is described as eat-play-sleep. The routine basically says baby should wake and eat, play for a little while (aim for 30 minutes at first), and then drift off to sleep. While many parents find the "Babywise" method doesn't work for them (check out more information on sleep training methods here) this general routine can be helpful for establishing healthy sleep associations early on.
The best advice we offer our clients is to keep a loose log on a sheet of paper for baby's wakeful and restful periods. Oftentimes they'll show you exactly how they want the day to go and easing them into a routine is that much easier.
Hot Tip 5: White Noise
Our favorite tip is white noise! From machines to box fans to apps on your mobile devices, there are countless options available for parents to fill their baby's room with gentle white noise that can help keep baby asleep longer. By dulling outside noises and mimicking a gentle wooshing they're used to hearing in mom's tummy, this tip is a sure-fire way to help create a bit more rest for the whole family.
Some babies sleep all night from the moment they're home. Some babies need a little help. Getting sleep is imperative for the whole family to function, especially when helping baby transition into your newly expanded family.