As a Postpartum doula I have come to recognize that sleep or lack of it can wreak havoc on an entire household. I have had my fair share of urgent emails and phone calls over and over again when babies will not sleep longer then an hour in their bed or will only sleep on a parent’s chest.As new parents I think we are told that we won’t get a lot of sleep but we don’t really realize what that actually means until we’ve been running on 2 hours sleep a night for a month or more. We do need to recognize that the first 6-8 week’s babies need to eat A LOT. This means they also wake up A LOT. Babies at this age should not be expected to sleep through the night. It is normal for them to only go 2-3 hours between feedings. Here’s my list of tips and tricks that if practiced from the start can help parents and babies catch some extra zzz’s.
A Dark Room
A very dark room will increase baby’s natural melatonin levels which is a hormone that affects our biological clock (circadian rhythm). Blue lights no matter how dim are the worst. Blue light has been shown to have a greater affect on disrupting our sleep. All that is needed in the room where baby is sleeping is a very dim light that allows us to see baby when needed.
this is a great tool that can mimic sounds in the womb and create calmness in baby. It can also be used as a noise barrier if placed between baby and the noisiest part of the room. If baby’s room faces a busy street place the noise machine between window and baby’s bed. Always use a constant sound instead of waves etc.
This is a tool that has seen quite a bit of change and disagreement but its also one I’ve seen make the biggest difference. Swaddling mimics the safety and coziness of womb. It also decreases the natural startle reflex that can disrupt a baby’s sleep. I highly recommend the Velcro swaddlers instead of using a blanket. This way it keeps swaddle in place with no danger of blanket coming loose and covering baby’s face.
Its never too late to start a bedtime routine. Just like us babies will come to recognize the signs that its bedtime and it will help them relax and get sleepy. Baths, stories, songs etc. Try a few things to figure out what works for you and your baby best.
Allow Baby Time to Fall Asleep on Their Own
This is one of the more important Tips that will be useful when baby is a little older and able to go longer between feedings at nighttime! Use times when baby is sleepy but content to put them down and allow them to fall asleep on their own. This will help later on when baby wakes during the night but does not necessarily need a feeding. Just like us they have sleep cycles and will wake up here and there. If they have not learned how to soothe themselves back to sleep they need us to soothe them which makes for a looong night.
Hopefully these tips help you and your baby get a better night’s sleep. If not, there’s always a Postpartum Doula to help you navigate the world of lost sleep.