Sleep is like the holy grail when you become a parent, yet for many of us it remains highly elusive and ever tempting. We all want as much as we can get, and that means helping baby to get it too. Newborns are programmed to wake every three to four hours, but that doesn’t mean we can’t relish those brief periods of sleep! If you’re feeling the effects of broken nights and restless days, perhaps these tips for better baby sleep may help…
*Before we begin, we’d like to point out that we are NOT experts on sleep! We are mums, just like you. The following tips are things that have worked for us, and in no way the gospel truth. We are all simply parents trying our best to achieve a happy balance between mayhem and peace, and we hope that you are too. If you have any concerns or worries over your baby’s sleep, or any other issue at all, please see your health visitor or GP for advice.
Nail the naps
Firstly, if your baby does not sleep well during the day, chances are they will not sleep well at night either. Lots of babies struggle to settle well at bedtime if they are over tired, so our first tip is to nail the daytime naps. When you have a workable day time routine, you’ll find that the night times become a lot easier to deal with too!
- Watch your baby for sleep cues. When the eyes start to look tired, or baby starts to rub them and yawn, chances are bedtime is near.
- Have a good routine- story, feed, bed for example.
- Be consistent. If baby sleeps better in the cot, then try to make sure you’re home when you know that baby is due a nap. Of course, this isn’t always possible, so don’t cancel plans if you’re out and about.
Lots of babies find that the outside world is just too quiet. And it doesn’t help that we naturally tend to tip toe around babies in whispers at bed time too. The problem is that newborns especially are used to lots of noise from their time in utero. All that blood whooshing around and external noises they spent months listening to have a lasting impact on little ears. The result is that some babies respond really well to white noise and many parents have been amazed to find their little one sleeps really well through it all. Great examples of white noise include the washing machine, a radio set to static or the vacuum cleaner. Alternatively, you can buy special machines that play white noise, or you can download apps to your phone or tablet. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you don’t need to creep around when baby sleeps either. Make good attempts to help baby learn the difference between night and day by keeping daytime noise as normal, and night time a little quieter.
Have a good bedtime routine
Human beings respond well to routine, and bedtime is a fine example of this. Babies quickly learn that one thing follows another so if you have a good, consistent bedtime routine there is every chance they will respond well. Most good routines involve a bath (see this post for tips on bathing your newborn) and this can be a lovely way to relax and unwind together. However your routine looks, bear in mind:
- Your routine needs to work for your family. If going to bed at 10pm works for you and baby, fine. If an earlier bedtime works better, then go for it. Don’t worry about timings as long as the order of events are the same.
- Anyone who is taking care of baby needs to know the routine so if you’re about to enjoy a night off, make sure whoever is babysitting knows how you like things done.
- Be flexible if you can. Sometimes the best routines can go out the window, for many reasons. Don’t panic if they do!
Lots of babies like to be held close, but this doesn’t always help if you have a busy day ahead of you. Let’s face it, the baby moon can’t last forever, especially if you have older children to take care of too. If that’s the case, babywearing can really help to both settle baby, and to provide extra opportunities for sleep. Being held in a sling or carrier helps baby to feel secure and snug, much like in the womb, and it also leaves you with two hands free to get on with whatever you need to do! Additionally, studies have found that babywearing helps to regulate baby’s heart rate and temperature and can help to alleviate symptoms of stress and post natal depression too. Another plus point is that babies who are carried tend to cry less and sleep more- result!
What are your top tips for better baby sleep?