Bringing a new baby home has become synonymous with sleepless nights and hazy days.Many parents toil through the first months hoping their babies will, eventually, sleep through the night. Others will opt tosleep train.
Some parents are lucky enough to have a baby that sleeps through the night early on - but, that's not the most usual. As elusive as sleep may seem to you as a new parent, there are options to consider depending on you and your baby’s specific situation. Better sleep is possible for both you and your baby!
Get to know your baby
Don’t let anyone fool you, even as a first time parent, no one knows your baby better than you. Paying attention to what helps your baby sleep soundly or longer, allows you to develop an understanding of what helps them sleep better. You will also develop a notion of what seems to disrupt their sleep. Taking your baby’s preferences into account, in addition to your and your partner's too, will help you figure out a plan that works for your family.
My daughter, for example, has trouble winding down. This means that a warm bath and calming routines before bedtime are key for her being able to fall asleep and stay asleep all night long. My son, on the other hand, has trouble staying asleep. Any light, loud noise or change in temperature will wake him up and keep him up for hours.
For me and my partner, these differences in the way our children sleep, mean that no matter where we are or what’s going on in our lives, bedtime is sacred. One of us must dedicate at least 30 minutes to helping our daughter wind down. She’s the type of baby you can totally put down drowsy but awake, the trick is getting her to drowsy. Meanwhile, the other one of us, dedicates the same amount of time to hold our son, making him feel safe in a pitch dark room with a noise machine to drown out sounds coming from the city around us. He’s the type of baby that can benefit from theCradlewise crib as he needs to be soothed back to sleep whenever any sort of stimuli breaks through the noise machine, since the crib has a mechanism to detect the baby stirring, and will begin bouncing before they even start to cry.
Finding what works for you and your baby will help you create the proper environment to foster good sleep. It might take some trial and error but we promise you, it’s worth it.
Prioritizing sleep may seem inconvenient at first, but think of this: as adults, after a night of poor sleep, our performance and mood get wrecked, and for a new parent, it may have larger implications, too. "The fatigue aspect of the postpartum period has risk factors that feed into it, it affects not only parental wellness, but can also impact the bond between parent and baby," says Akileswaran. Speaking of your little one, imagine what a night of poor sleep can do to a baby who does not yet know how to cope with negative feelings and emotions. A child can only behave well when they are able to and know how. Being tired and cranky will make them irritable and less likely to cooperate. So for everyone's sake, it makes sense to focus on sleep and make bedtime and nap time sacred.
This practice eventually leads both you and your child to be able to recognize when you are not well rested and allows you to create a proper environment for better sleep. It’s a life skill that’s totally worth mastering.Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D., is a great book that really helped me help my children sleep better (and does not involve letting your baby “cry it out”).
Make sure your baby is well fed
This may seem obvious, but babiesneed a lot of food and a lot of rest to grow and develop. Part of the reason babies need to wake up so often during the night is because they are hungry and need food. "There absolutely are periods of time when the need for cluster feeding, or sort of consistent breastfeeding, takes hold, and there's little sleep in between those sessions," says Akileswaran. Though most babies stop needing night feeds at around the 6 months mark of age, it’s important that you take note of whether they are eating enough to be able to sleep.
Babies that are fed breast milk tend to take longer to sleep through the night. That’s in part because breast milk generally gets digested more quickly than formula and it’s hard for parents to know exactly how much breast milk their babies are getting if it’s fed directly from the breast.
If your breast milk fed baby is waking up constantly hungry during the night, make sure that they are actively feeding at the breast for enough time for them to get foremilk and hindmilk. Hind milk tends to contain more fat, which will keep babies satisfied, and asleep, for longer. As the name implies, hind milk comes in after fore milk, so the baby must nurse for a while in order to get it.
If you are a pumping mom, you can always save whatever extra milk you pump during the day to give your baby a bigger bottle at bedtime to make sure they have enough food to keep them satisfied through the night. In either case, you can always try adream feed before you turn in for the night, which will help your baby (and you) sleep a little longer.
If you are a pumping mom, you can always try theLilu Massager + Bra. It not only helps moms pump more milk but it also helps moms empty their breasts more fully during each pumping session so that they can make sure to get both foremilk and hindmilk in every bottle. You can also read The New Mom’s Guide to Sleeping at Night.
Lilu is a Women’s Health company building tech-enabled devices to empower new moms. Our first product, the Lilu Massage Bra, mimics compression massage, so you can empty your breasts fully to establish, increase and maintain your milk supply. Pump up to 50% more milk each session, all while going hands-free.
The Lilu Massager + Bra is designed to make pumping moms’ lives easier. It works with your pump so that you can produce up to 50% more milk per pumping session completely hands-free. It enables you to actually get stuff done or simply relax while pumping. Reach your pumping goals, with Lilu.