Being a new mom is tough stuff, and it’s so important that both you and your baby are getting the sleep you need. Of course, we know that the more successfully your baby sleeps, the better you will sleep.
Before we dive into tips and tools to sooth your baby into slumber, let’s talk timing. Many pediatricians suggest that infants need between 14-18 hours of sleep a day.
Keep in mind though, that because babies have such small stomachs, they usually can’t go more than a couple of hours without eating.
Usually, when your baby is around 3-months old, it is easier to get into more of a sleeping rhythm. Some babies will even sleep through the entire night.
Set the scene
Studies have shown that adults who work from their beds can start getting sleepy; this is because we associate our beds with sleeping, and not with working.
Similarly, your baby’s nursery should be a room reserved for sleeping and sleeping only. This means that toys and knick knacks should stay in the playroom or another part of your home. Basically, you want to keep the distractions at a minimum.
Keep it cool
We’re talking temperature here, although you’re pretty cool too, mama! Babies sleep best when the room temperature is on the cooler side—between 69 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pay attention to what your baby is wearing. For example, if they are wearing heavy clothes, dressed in layers or over-bundled, they may feel much hotter than the room’s temperature.
You know your baby best, so if they seem cold, add a layer and if they are sweating, take a few layers off.
It’s also a good idea to place the crib in a spot that isn’t in direct contact with the air-conditioning. As we all know from over-chilly offices in the summer, this can be really uncomfortable and make it hard to do anything, let alone sleep. The same is true for overheating vents.
If you live in a city with lots of outside noise, try to place the crib away from the windows so that they aren’t disrupted by sudden noises or temperature changes (for example, drafts).
Use sound to soothe
Babies can be very sensitive to sounds and in the same way you want to keep a consistent temperature, you’ll also want to maintain a consistent sound. A white noise machine can do wonders, especially to drown out city noises from cars and passersby.
If you feel like getting creative, you can look for a white noise machine that plays lullabies and nature sounds. However, for most babies, a simple white noise machine does the trick just fine. Consistency here is key.
If you plan to travel or will be separated from your baby for some time, consider investing in a portable white noise machine so that your baby can experience the same sounds even when sleeping somewhere else.
Give swaddling another shot
For many moms, swaddling their newborns doesn’t work the first few times. However, many experts suggest giving it another try…or a couple of tries.
In this case, practice makes perfect and you can experiment with different styles of swaddles. For example, the Miracle Blanket wraps snugly around your baby. While the Swaddle Up lets your baby keep their hands by their faces.
Consider sleep training
Whether or not you want to try sleep training is completely up to you. It’s a personal decision and one that you will need to decide to do (or not to) on your own.
One method encourages parents to refrain from rushing in quickly to soothe their infant as soon as they wake up and begin to cry. This allows babies to learn how to self-soothe so that they can fall back to sleep on their own, without relying on you to rock them to sleep.
If you do decide to sleep train, keep an eye on your baby's weight gain. If they are not progressing well this could mean that they’re not ready. If a baby is too little and/or exclusively breastfeeding, it may be counterproductive for growth and milk production.
“For many mothers the first step is ensuring that the baby is eating a minimum of 8 times in 24 hours, with the knowledge that many babies who gain weight will eat about 12 times. If you have been sleep training it may be that the baby is not ready if they can’t continue to grow without feeds at night.” — Serena Meyer RN IBCLC
Create a bedtime ritual
We’re guessing you have a ritual or two of your own, so why not use the same technique for bedtime? There’s no ‘set’ routine to follow, so feel free to create one that works for you and your family.
That said, we’d say there are four main ingredients to a great baby bedtime ritual: bath, book, bed and bottle and not necessarily in that order.
The hardest part of any ritual is keeping it, so try your best to make this an everyday thing and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t.