Are you tired of having sleepless nights? Red-eye nights caused by your newborn baby’s fussing and crying no matter what you do - feed, change the diaper, or cuddle the child? Worry no more! Our tips on how to improve baby sleep for your little one will help you keep your sanity (with some much-needed shut-eye) and help the baby get enough rest that's necessary for healthy brain and physical development.
More so, you'll have a lively, more engaging, and tolerant baby. So without further ado, here are the tips that will encourage good sleeping habits in your newborn:
Create a bedtime routine
It's essential to follow a consistent bedtime routine because babies like structure and predictability. That’s because it makes them feel safe and secure in their new environment. The routine may involve a feeding session, a warm bath, massage, cuddling, playing soft music, or reading your dear one a story.
Just choose and stick to a routine that works for you. Remember to start these activities around 30 minutes or more before sleep time so that the baby can learn to associate sleeping with all these cues.
Activate the baby’s internal clock with light and darkness
Newborns can’t tell when it’s day or night, and it's, therefore, your responsibility to help them differentiate between the two. During the day, you should draw the curtains to let in natural light, play, and talk normally while at night you should dim the lights, speak softly, and cut out any playing.
With this, the baby will get a sense of what each entails-sleep for dim lights and play for bright light. Even when you wake up to feed the baby during the night or offer any other care, keep the lights low, use a soothing voice, and keep your movements calm. This will further reinforce to them that it's still sleeping time.
Put the baby in comfortable clothes
Light and comfortable sleep clothes with only a bedsheet for cover can help the baby sleep soundly without arousing from sleep because of overheating. Or worse, causing sudden death syndrome (SIDS). However, if you’re concerned about the baby getting cold at night, then let the baby sleep in a wearable baby blanket or sleep sack.
Let the baby sleep in a toddler bassinet
Put your newborn in a baby folding bassinet that has a firm mattress whenever they've to sleep. Be it during the day or the night. A firm mattress, unlike a soft one, will prevent the baby from rolling over onto the stomach and risk suffocating-one of the leading causes of SIDS.
Toddler bassinets are also useful for making some babies feel more comfortable because of their smallness. Moreover, the shorter edges around the bassinet make it easier for you to lay the baby in the bassinet without risk of waking up if she/he slept off in your arms.
Lay the newborn in the toddler bassinet when drowsy but asleep
This will help the tot learn how to self-soothe themselves to sleep in that even when they’re startled awake in the middle of the night, they can go back to sleep on their own. That’s if the baby isn’t hunger or a full diaper that has awakened them. Signs of drowsiness to look out for are: the baby becoming less active and wears a bored look-that one where he/she stares off at nothing in particular.
Have the infant sleep in your bedroom
It’s advisable to have your baby sleep in the same room as you for at least six months as long as they sleep alone in their bassinet. This is because it can reduce the risk of SIDS since you can easily check on the baby from time to time, and your stirring in bed can prevent the baby from going into the deep sleep that is linked to SIDS. Moreover, babies tend to sleep better when they sleep near their parents because they feel safe.
Consider using white noise
This conditions your infant to sleep through noise and subsequently improve their quality of sleep so that they won't rouse from their sleep at even the slightest noise. You can do this by turning on the fan at medium while facing away from the baby and at a distance to avoid it from blowing directly on the tot and affecting the sensitive ears.
Feed the baby more often during the day
Newborns need to feed more frequently like every 2 or 2.5 hours because they’ve small stomachs that can’t keep them satiated for longer hours. And if you're wondering what that's got to do with improving your baby's sleep? Well-fed babies can sleep better during day naps and longer hours at night since they don’t have to be fed a lot.
Let the baby nap regularly
Skipping naps during the day because you want the baby to sleep longer during the day will instead make the baby overtired because newborn babies have no tolerance for long awake periods. And this will result in the rise of their stress hormones, which can make them sleep for a shorter period as the stress hormones can wake them up. It's just like how you find it hard to sleep well when you’re stressed.
Change the diaper before feeding at night
When you wake up in the middle of the night to feed and change the newborn’s diaper, start with the diaper change. This will prevent the baby from fully waking up after feeding and making it difficult to put back to bed.
If, however, your baby always poops immediately after a feed- a common phenomenon among newborn babies of 0-3 weeks, you should do the diaper changing after the feeding until the baby can control or work out its digestive tracts.
Make use of a pacifier
A pacifier can be useful for a baby who finds it hard to settle down for naptime or bedtime. However, there are a few caveats to using a pacifier. For example, you have to use one only after the baby has become accustomed to breastfeeding regularly (that's if you're breastfeeding) when the baby is around one month old to prevent the baby from preferring the pacifier's nipple to your own.
Also, only use it if the baby likes it and without any coats of substances like honey that some parents think can help soothe the baby-babies below one year shouldn't take honey because it causes botulism, which is linked to SIDS.
Allow the newborn to work it out
If your newborn awakens in the middle of the night and starts to cry, don’t immediately rush in to help. Allow a minute to pass to see whether she/he will work it out and get back to sleep. It’s only when you realize that the sweet darling can’t, that you should go ahead and help them fix the problem.
And when you decide to help, start with the least intrusive action like shushing the baby while patting it on the chest. Only opt for the most intrusive actions like picking him up from the bassinet if all the less intrusive actions fail. But hopefully, it wouldn't get to that, especially if the baby has been trained to get back to sleep on his own.
Now that you have the tricks to improve baby sleep and yours too, say goodbye to frustrating and exhausting nights that couldn't allow you to enjoy parenthood fully.