My second baby is due in just a few weeks, and I am over-the-moon excited for almost every aspect of her arrival.
Snuggles and cuddles? Yes!
Those very first smiles? Bring ’em on!
That new baby smell? Cannot wait!
The only thing I’m decidedly not looking forward to? Sleep deprivation, of course!
Fortunately, now I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve that I learned when my son was an infant. Here are 6 baby sleep tips that worked for us the first time around (after much research and trial-and-error on my part). No doubt I’ll be using these techniques again with baby #2!
6 Baby Sleep Tips Every Parent Should Know
1. Get baby comfy.
If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that all babies are different—and therefore have different sleep preferences.
Many infants love being swaddled nice and tight, but others can’t stand it (and still others prefer the arms-out half-swaddle). Similarly, some babies like a cooler room for sleeping, while others snooze better when it’s slightly warmer.
Play around with these factors until you determine exactly what makes your little one most comfortable.
2. Make it dark.
My son started sleeping longer in the mornings as soon as we added blackout window shades to the room. You can imagine what a glorious day it was when we discovered this simple trick and actually got to sleep in past 5:30am!
3. Add sound.
Because we adults generally sleep better when it’s quiet, it’s easy to forget that our newborns just spent nine months sleeping inside the womb—which is not exactly a silent place!
That’s why many babies sleep better when there’s some kind of white noise in the background. I’ve heard of parents using fans or even the radio turned to static, but we relied on a white noise machine that mimicked the rhythm of mama’s heartbeat.
This device saved us all so much sleep that I remember my husband and I panicking the first time it ran out of batteries! After that we stocked up on Duracell batteries, which *last longer in 99 percent of devices versus the next leading competitive brand.
So expectant parents, add them to your registry now! And new parents, stock up! You won’t regret it, I promise.
4. Choose beverages wisely.
Some breastfed babies don’t mind if mama needs a regular dose of caffeine to keep her going, but others simply don’t tolerate it well. Even small doses of caffeine can keep them from drifting off to dreamworld.
So if your baby isn’t sleeping well, consider how much caffeine—in the form of coffee, tea, soda, and even large quantities of dark chocolate!—you’re consuming in relation to when you nurse your infant.
5. Fill up the tummy.
Some moms swear by cluster feeding, which is when you feed your baby at extra intervals (think every hour) in the evenings to ensure that little belly is nice and full before bedtime, theoretically leading to a longer interval before the first wake-up.
Other moms—myself included—relied on what’s called dream feeding. This is when you actually wake your baby for a feeding before you yourself head to bed, except that your little one is actually just barely awake.
I’d put my son down around 8pm, then pick him up and nurse him ever-so-gently around 10 or 10:30. Believe it or not, he really was eating in his sleep! Then I’d head to bed and be ensured at least a few hours before I needed to wake and feed him again. We used this routine until he was about 4 months old.
6. Prioritize sleep.
Lots of new parents mistakenly believe that if they keep their baby awake for longer intervals during the day, it will help their infant sleep better at night.
Logical? Yes. Accurate? Nope.
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, overtired babies (or older children, for that matter) rarely fall asleep quickly and easily. Instead, they become fussy, irritable, and wired, and will often appear to be “fighting sleep.”
So even though it’s not always easy or convenient, it’s worthwhile to prioritize regular naps and bedtimes. Doing so will greatly improve your baby’s sleep, not to mention the bags under your own eyes.
What’s your best baby sleep tip? Leave an answer in the comments below and you will be entered for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!
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*AA size. Based on ANSI performance tests. Results very by device and usage patterns. Next leading alkaline based on market sales data.