Thursday, April 5, 2012

How to Get a Baby to Sleep Well



New moms always ask how to get a baby to sleep, and to sleep well. I am referring to newborns and infants, you know how sometimes it feels like they wake every.single.hour? While there is no magic formula for every baby, we found one that worked for us. It does involve some very specific products that were worth every penny in terms of the sleep I got in return! Some I bought, others I got for review but would buy in an instant if it meant getting more sleep. Aside from the 'miracle products', there are also a few tips I have that got our babies sleeping better and more soundly.
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Newborns

First, lets get one thing straight. Some newborns need to eat every two hours, some every hour, some will go for three hours, but it is rare. Just think of how tiny the newborn digestive system is! No wonder they need to eat that often, food is in and out instantly. So if you're looking for tips to make a newborn sleep longer, I can't help much - but if your newborn wakes from startling themselves mid-sleep, you're in the right place. If you have a newborn that sleeps for long stretches regularly, you've got a rare gem, enjoy!

The Swaddle

My first hated being swaddled, my second baby loved it. So I can relate on both ends of the spectrum. But guess what, I did find something that worked for both of them - yes, even the baby that hated being swaddled. When I was desperate with Baby E, I read reviews of the Woombie online, caved in and bought one. It was the best $27 I ever spent for a baby! Even though she wanted nothing to do with traditional swaddling, she loved the Woombie. She could still move in her sleep, but no longer woke herself up with her flailing arms. The only thing I regretted is not having it from birth, she was already 3 months when I got one. Fast forward to Baby T, I was ready and armed with an organic newborn Woombie. Best.move.ever. He slept better than Baby E from day one, for much longer stretches of time. I actually remember him as a newborn, whereas my first was a blur. So whether your baby loves or hates to be swaddled, the Woombie is worth a try.

There is another swaddling product I absolutely love, especially for winter babies as both of mine were. The Baby Ota Swaddle that I reviewed with Baby T. Not only did it help him sleep better, it was especially helpful with a newborn to move him from place to place without waking him. At night he would sleep in it for four hour stretches, bingo! It's really genius and I'm not surprised my parents and grandparents swaddled us in a similar manner, it just makes life easier.

Of course you could always try traditional swaddling, hated by Baby E, loved by Baby T. With the latter we used some plain large flannel swaddling blankets like these. They worked, but I found the Woombie much easier for diaper changes and for staying swaddled through the night.

Babywearing

If you visited me in the past four months, chances are you were greeted at the door by me and a sleeping Baby T on me! As much as I prefer for him to nap in bed during the day, once he started teething around 2.5 months - furgetaboutit. It's getting better now, but he would only fall asleep in my arms during the day, that's where the Moby wrap saved me. Otherwise I would be either stuck with a screaming baby or my arms would get numb and fall off! I could continue cooking, cleaning, and playing with my toddler while he peacefully sleeps - no need to check on him every five minutes. It didn't hurt my back either, which was awesome! There are many similar wraps, such as the Sleepy Wrap and Boba Wrap. It took a few tries to get it down, but once I figured out the wrapping process it was fantabulous!

Fresh Air

I've learned quickly with both babies that fresh air makes them sleep better. So that would give me two options: go for a stroll outside (not always possible with winter babies) or swaddle baby and open the windows in the bedroom. Make sure the baby is warm and snuggled and their face isn't open to the elements if you're out in the winter. If you live in a hot climate, you're probably better off staying in your air conditioned home!

White Noise

Baby T will be 5 months soon, we have weaned him from the Woombie, primarily because I didn't want to spend another $30 for the next size up (he is a big boy). He doesn't sleep as well without it, I admit. But now I turn on some white noise like rain or waterfall on our alarm clock, it keeps him from waking to random noises like the honk of the delivery truck or taxi (sometimes want to smack those people, don't they know my baby is napping, sigh). It also worked well with Baby E.

Give Them a Workout

Getting a newborn overly tired is not recommended. But as they get older I found this trick works well, at least with Baby T. I let him stay awake as long as he can tolerate without pacifying him. When he starts to get fussy, I just change his surroundings or ask Baby E to talk to him. He goes from bouncer, to laying on the bed, to play mat on the floor, to Bumbo seat, daddy's arms, etc. After all this action he does wear out and sleeps a lot better. I find that at four months old the best awake time for him was about 2 to 3 hours, that way he slept for 1 to 2 hours straight. There were times when he would be awake for an hour, sleeping for half an hour, and that's no good because he is never fully rested or fully awake.

Try, Try Again

These things have worked for us, but of course babies are so different! If you haven't found what works, keep trying! Always remember that they are little for such a short time. Now I have trouble getting my three year old not to sleep! She sleeps in way too late every morning. I have forgotten the days when I was excited if she slept for three hours straight. Baby T is finally getting used to sleeping on his own during the day. There is one thing that's guaranteed and that is change. One day they sleep, the next they don't, it's all part of the fun in parenting!

1 comment:

  1. I agree about swaddles although i never tried one, placed an order once few weeks passed got email, out of stock and i she grew so fast i forgot about it.
    Traditional big blanket swaddle for us, which doesn't work as good as she is so strong eventually hers hands are out.
    Day naps got easier as i never put her for a nap anymore, on the floor she rolls over on her tummy and quickly she is asleep if she is tired.
    Agree about fresh air, when we were little parents say we were napping winter time outside in the stroller. Now it got warmer i do work at the garden with the blanket out and rolling over on her tummy works great as she loves taking naps like that and i get my work done =)

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