Sleeping Babies; The Sweetest Babies
It’s a challenge all parents will come across at one point in time: The Bedtime Blues. Whether your newborn is the angel of all sleeping angels and your toddler refuses to succumb to the necessity that is the nap (or vice versa) every parent, at some point in time, with every child, will have the pleasure of at least one or two sleepless nights, trying to convince your little one that they (and you!) require 8 hours of uninterrupted, beautiful sleep.
The old piece of advice passed from every mom to every mom is, “you sleep when they sleep, the dishes can wait, the laundry will get done, just sleep when they sleep.” Easier said than done, as we all know, especially on the nights when sleep just isn’t going to be an option. However, when all the stars align and it looks like the both of you will be getting to visit dreamland for a full night, you want to make sure you’ve put all the pieces in place beforehand, so you have more sleep-filled nights than not.
Here are a few quick tips to spend a little time on now to help you snuggle your little one in with minimal effort on those nights that will take everything you have in the future.
Make sure the crib is clean and free of toys and blankets (for newborns), swaddle your newborn and dress your 6+ month old in cozy pajamas.
Find a quality, comfortable crib mattress, like the Lullaby Earth Crib Mattress.
Are you co-sleeping? Make sure your side crib or bassinet is as equally comfortable, safe, clean, and cozy. Studies show co-sleepers grow up to be less anxious and rate higher on the self esteem scale.
Lighting is important! Make sure darkness is for bedtime sleeping and light is for napping, resting, and the other parts of the day. If you start introducing this pattern early on, darkness will trigger melatonin even before it’s bedtime, and it may even help your baby sleep before they are tired. This also helps in the opposite direction, is your baby waking too early for you? Try dark curtains that keep the sunrise out for just a couple more hours.
Try a white noise device, even something as simple as a fan can create enough sound to soothe your baby. In utero your child is used to noise, so silence can cause startles and uncertainty.
The room should be cool. As adults we prefer the perfect temperature to sleep, average of 68* F, babies are no different. Anywhere from 65* to 70* should be sufficient. Try to rate the room temperature on how you’re feeling, if you’re too cold or hot, it’s safe to say your baby is too.
Scents can often create a peaceful environment. Try putting a few drops of Lavender on a tissue near the crib of older babies.
Just like adults, babies are receptive to routines and they help tremendously with triggering quiet time to ease in to sleep. Even before you start sleep training, it is important to cue the nighttime bed routine.
Whatever routine you choose, make sure it’s repetitive and consistent. And talk to your baby along the way, using the same language every night. Even if your baby is too young to understand, she can still identify patterns, repetitions, signals, cues, the feeling or emotions, and inflictions of your voice. “Alright, it’s time for bath so we can be all clean and feel good. Then we’ll… alright now, it’s bedtime. Time to go to sleep. Close your eyes, sweet dreams.”
Start with a bath, then continue on into a massage, a clean diaper, warm comfortable swaddle or pajamas, a feeding, a song and a book, and then hand to body contact after placing them in the crib until they are soothed and content.
This will take some time, but try to identify the perfect timing when your baby is sleepy and ready for bed, but before she is sleeping. Putting a baby down right before she is sleeping will keep from waking her up and starting the process all over again. And if she is the type to startle and immediately start crying, this will keep her from waking herself up completely with tears.
To go even further, it’s important to lay your baby down to sleep before they are overly tired. A tired baby is much easier to stay asleep than an overly exhausted baby.
Lay your baby down to sleep, on her back of course, instead of keeping her with you until after she’s already sleeping. This will allow her to teach her to self-soothe, and just your hand on her tummy until she’s quiet will be enough in the future, preventing the requirement of you being around for her to feel safe and secure.
Dream Feed! Before your baby wakes all the way up to tell you she’s hungry, try feeding her as she’s beginning to stir. She’ll eat instinctually, and your sneaky cleverness will fill her tummy long enough to keep her asleep for a few more hours.
All of the advice in the world may not help you, so find what works for your, and keep trying. There will be a solution for your individual needs and it may be right around the corner. Remember, regressions are normal, and aside from any medical issues, the regressions with regress as well. Stay patient, stay on track, keep your routine, and you’ll both be in dreamland soon enough.