Baby sleep. When you're a new mom….it's one of the only things people consistently ask you about. How the baby is sleeping. Are you sleeping? And guess what, the answer? Not really. Let's be honest, unless you somehow give birth to a mystery of science……after the first week (which I now call the Honeymoon)…..babies don't sleep for long stretches. They're not biologically wired to at this age. Newborns can only take in small amounts of milk at a time, and milk is rapidly digested……so they need to eat. A LOT. And somehow, especially a lot in the middle of the night…..or when Mommy has just drifted into blissful dreamland.
I (being the type a person that I am) did a LOT of reading about baby sleep during Lydia's first two months. At one point, my husband accused me of being “obsessed with the baby's sleep.” Let's be clear, it was self-preservation…..I was obsessed with my own!
Now, as many of you know we had an odd circumstance and up until Lydia was eight months old had to wake her up and feed her at night for medical reasons. But, guess what? Around six months, she generally stopped waking up on her own and we had to set an alarm.
So, I wanted to share a few things that totally helped….and I would absolutely do again! (disclaimer, we didn't do Cry It Out……I just couldn't stomach it….and aside from teething and developmental leaps…..Lydia is a great sleeper….so we lucked out and it wasn't necessary).
- White noise machine, ALL the time……from day one. I'm not talking a baby stuffed animal that makes white noise. I'm talking a full blown LOUD white noise machine. Ours is the best, we turn it on during our nighttime routine….and Lydia instantly starts winding down and relaxing. It's a total sleep cue.
- Baths every night. As soon as we could, we started giving Lydia a bath every night. The warm water is relaxing, and it's a physical cue that it's time to wind down for the evening.
- Dim lighting. In my extensive (aka obsessive) research, I learned that bright light signals the brain to wake up. Not a good idea at bedtime.
- Quiet time for at least 30 minutes leading up to bedtime. When we've had a busy night, it's always harder for Lydia to wind down. Is this always possible? Absolutely not. But when you're home, and its an option —do it.
- Create a routine and stick to it. This one is BIG. We do the same things, in the same order, at the same time EVERY night. Because we have placed multiple sleep cues (behaviors that signal bedtime) into our routine….we can skip one in a pinch…..and still give the message that it's time for bed.
- When a baby is old enough…..add a lovey. We just started using a lovey recently, when Lydia was going through a rough week ( four teeth in one week = BAD sleeping)…..and she is obsessed. Each night she cuddles up to her little toy and snuggles it all night. I slept with it for a few nights first, to give it that soothing mommy smell.
In the end, try to remind yourself that sleeping for longer stretches is a developmental milestone like rolling over or crawling. You can definitely do things to encourage it or to discourage it…..but each baby is different, and has different needs. I strongly suggest that you read a book or two (or seven in my case) that discuss baby sleep habits and that describes practices you are comfortable with.
Interested in the ones I read?
The No Cry Sleep Solution
Moms on Call
The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
I hope these tips are helpful……if not, I highly suggest this adorable baby tee from Wake Me Up Designs…..during Lydia's teething week…..she wore it for multiple trips to Starbucks when lattes with extra expresso were in order!