As mom’s we all want to know the magic spell to ensure our babes are good sleepers. During pregnancy, I continued to think about whether I would be one of the lucky ones that had a baby that slept through the night early and often. Not just on again, off again, but actually good solid sleep.
Low and behold, Andrew arrived and the unthinkable happened. He slept. My husband and I took a relatively laid back attitude to parenthood and we felt like we had a relatively laid back baby as a result. Thankfully, I was blessed with a good sleeper from the start, but I understand that isn’t always the case. So since the month of May is Better Sleep Month, I thought I would pass on the few tidbits I borrowed from my friends, books and experts that resulted in a baby that was just a good sleeper day one.
***Please note, every mom should make decisions on what is best for their child, but here are a few of my favorite tips to getting that little one to sleep well through the night and nap daily.
- Keep it dark. My husband and I travel with our little guy a lot. So one of our secrets is a nice dark room. His nursery is dark, therefore when we travel and we change up the scenery he rarely cares as long as he is in a dark room. He knows a dark room means time for sleep and it never fails.
- Use the sound machine and keep it loud. Call me crazy, but it works. Most people think it sounds like a jet engine, but my kiddo loves it and it blocks out most of the noise that might normally startle him in the evening.
- Swaddle them up. When we first brought Andrew home from the hospital we half-heartedly swaddled him at night. It wasn’t until he grew a bit that I realized how much he loved the tight nit swaddle around him. I really like the Halo Sleep Sacks with the swaddle attachment. Truth-be-told my thirteen month old is still in love with his sleep sack. (Do they make those things for adults?)
- Use what works. My son Andrew slept in the Rock and Play for at least the first two months. He loved it. From there we moved to the DockATot and placed that in our crib. While pricey, these things are amazing. Then finally, we took a leap of faith and went in full throttle on the crib. It didn’t take long for my son to adjust to the new sleep space, but once he did we have never looked back. It’s a process, but do it at your own speed and don’t stress. It will all work out!
- Use a pacifier. So I don’t know this from experience, but I have heard this is key for many moms. Andrew would not take a pacifier. But as soon as he snuck out of his swaddle he popped his thumb in his mouth immediately. Much like the pacifier, this was a nice soothing tactic for him and I suspect the pacifier acts in the same manner. Don’t be afraid to use it, especially at night.
- Have a routine. We try to do the same thing every night to prep Andrew for bed. We sing the same song, read a book and head upstairs and that started in his first month, with some exceptions. It’s nothing fancy, but this is the one time we also allow ourselves to cuddle a bit before sleeping. Every parent should have their bedtime routine, whatever it is, and stick to it. For example, I have a girlfriend that finally got her little guy to sleep through the night. Now she believes giving him a bath before bedtime is the key. I give her a little grief from time to time, I mean who has time to bathe their child EVERY night? But seriously, whatever works for you to get your baby to sleep is perfect! (Keep at it Lindsay!)
- Ok, I’m just going to say it…have a schedule. This is just my experience, but we are all about the schedule. Every family will do it differently and no judgment either way. However, once we got the OK from our pediatrician we put Andrew on a schedule. We used our version of “Baby Wise” and started with three one and a half hour naps. Up at 7:00, eat and play for and hour and a half and down for a nap for an hour and a half. Rinse and repeat. Additionally, we almost always tried to put him in his crib awake. No rocking during the day, just straight to his crib. From there he was able to learn to put himself to sleep without mom or dad. We have since moved to two, two-hour naps and now just one three-hour afternoon nap (except at daycare, but then all rules are out the window). True confession, I only read until to chapter six in the “Baby Wise” book, but this was the result and we feel like it worked for us.
- Have some flexibility. As I said before, we love to travel, love to go out, love to do fun things away from the house. While we had a schedule, we didn’t circulate our day around it. If you have an event to go to, maybe think about time in the car for a nap, maybe he will fall asleep in the stroller, maybe he won’t nap at all. Regardless, your child will eventually figure it out and usually end up adjusting with you. Don’t ruin your day just to make sure your baby has three exact one hour and thirty minute naps. They will sleep when they can, but don’t stress over it if it doesn’t happen.
- Take a break. Andrew slept well, but getting up to nurse every night (sometimes twice a night) definitely took its toll. So I started to look into a night nurse. The night nurse was outstanding. Not only did she give us a solid seven hours of sleep, but she gave us some great tips and tricks to help Andrew sleep longer and better. I only had her come once in awhile, but handing over the baby monitor at 10:00 pm knowing I had a free evening until 5:00 am was unbelievable. When I say night nurse, I also mean dad, grandma or helpful friend. The moral of the story here is…if you aren’t well rested, your baby may have a hard time resting as well. Get some sleep. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your little one.
- Just do you. Whether its Baby Wise, co-sleeping, cry it out, Ferber, or something else, everyone has something that will fit their child and their family. All of our children are different and unique and their sleep patterns will be too. Just do you ladies. Do what’s best for your baby and in the end that can never be wrong.
Happy sleeping everyone!!!