Part 2 of “Parents of Newborns Say. . . ” Series
“How can I get enough sleep . . .” You will not get enough sleep for the first few months after bringing a newborn home. But these tips will help baby sleep better and at better times. These are excerpts from Lauren Tamm at The Military Wife and Mom .com
- Swaddle – Firmly wrapping baby keeps their startle reflex from wakening them frequently.
- Dreamfeed -this is a feeding right before you go to bed, to help prevent the baby from waking up just after you finally drift off to sleep.
- Limit the length of naps during the day. If the baby sleeps past the 2 – 2.5 hour mark, wake the baby up, feed him, keep him a wake for a bit, and then lay him down for another nap. Think: More daytime feeds = less nighttime feeds.
- Use white noise – Baby will hear a soft regular sound nearby and will be less disturbed by noises from another part of the house.
- Follow the eat, wake, sleep cycle. The baby wakes from sleep and immediately eats. Then the baby is awake for a while to play. Then the baby goes back to sleep….
This cycle has several purposes. First, it encourages full feedings by allowing the baby to eat immediately after waking. The baby will have the most energy immediately after waking, making him more inclined to take a full feeding and go longer between feedings. Also, by feeding the baby after sleep rather than before sleep, the cycle prevents the baby from associating food with sleep or using food as a sleep prop. When using this cycle, a feeding before bedtime is typically the only feeding before sleep.
- Use a pre-nap and bedtime routines. It is well known that babies thrive on routine, structure, and predictability. Creating consistent routines for your baby will help bring order to a very chaotic world. Choose a pre-nap routine that works for you. A pre-nap routine may include taking the baby to his room, close the blinds or curtains, place the baby in his sleep sack or wearable blanket, turn on the white noise, sing a quick song (e.g. Twinkle, twinkle), give a few cuddles, and say your sleepy words “I love you. I hope you have a good sleep.”
A bedtime routine would typically be a little longer and may include a bath, a massage, reading a story, offering a feeding, placing the baby in a wearable blanket or swaddle, turning on the white noise, a few cuddles, and saying your sleepy words. Following the same exact routine as consistently as possible cues the baby for sleep, and over time the baby will learn that sleep immediately follows the nap and bedtime routines.
- Change your baby’s diaper strategically – Changing the diaper before a middle of the night feeding prevents the baby from waking up too much after a feeding is finished.
- Understand how a baby sleeps. Encourage lots of naps AND feedings during the day following the eat, wake, sleep cycle. Keeping a baby awake in hopes of tiring him out will actually result in over-stimulation, and he will experience both difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. It is very likely an over-tired baby will sleep shorter, not longer.
- Don’t rush in… Give the baby some time and see if he will resettle himself. Avoid rushing in and disturbing this process in order to help your newborn baby sleep better.
- Lay the baby down awake, but drowsy.
The most important way to encourage your baby to sleep well in the long run is to teach him to fall asleep independently, which is essentially the beginnings of teaching independent sleep.
To read the entire article and follow some additional links, click: The Military Wife and Mom .com