You can barely keep your eyes open and you're exhausted from the long day at work. You get snuggled up in bed for some much needed rest when baby starts to cry from the crib. We've all been there. You're so tired that you bring baby in bed with you and just like that - you're co-sleeping. That thing you said you would never do.
It's funny how you get the same questions from people when you have a baby. When your pregnant, people ask the due date, the gender, the name. You get those questions a lot. Then, when baby comes everyone asks how you're sleeping and you kind of want to sarcastically respond, "how do you think?!" My favorite is when people ask me if I'm tired. What gave it away? The bags under my eyes? Or the fact that I have total mom brain and sometimes forget to put shoes on as I'm pulling out of the driveway for work? Once you become a parent, you will think back to your life pre-children when you thought you were tired and laugh. It's a whole new level of tired.
Babies don't come with a manual. Sure, there are lots of books, articles, blogs - you name it. But like every pregnancy and delivery, each baby is unique. Babies will have different preferences and needs. They will reach milestones differently than other babies their age. The one piece of advice that has been most helpful on this journey into motherhood has been to remain patient and simply keep trying things until it works! This same advice holds true for the sleeping tips I'm about to give you. Some tips may not work at first and they may not work for your baby. If you stay patient and keep trying, you will enjoy sleep again!
The funny thing is, when my son was born, I didn't even realize I had any control over his sleeping habits. I was just trying to keep up with it all. I didn't even think to research about helping my baby sleep at night because I just assumed that they don't! The first two weeks with a newborn were a sleepless blur. He ate every 1-2 hours, wouldn't take a pacifier and was slightly nocturnal. I was a Mombie (mom zombie). After trying several things and staying patient, I was able to get my baby sleeping through the night at 10 weeks old. True story.
- Don't over-stimulate baby in the evening. Babies need some winding down time in the evening just like we do. Limit the noise and overall stimulation. Try some mellow activities like rocking them or singing to them.
- Make sure they have a full belly. Seems like an obvious one but it's easy to forget when baby ate last. Try setting yourself reminders or write down their eating schedule so you can keep track. Nursing before bed is a great way to bring them comfort and heavy eyes. They will drift off into oxytocin dreamland.
- Create a bedtime routine. Babies NEED routine. Don't underestimate the power of a routine. It brings them comfort and by doing the same activities around the same time each evening they are able to learn and understand what to expect. Our bedtime routine is a lavender bath, bottle, snuggle with mom and dad for 20 minutes and then bed time in the crib. We've gotten to the point where I lay him down in the crib and he just rolls over and falls asleep - no crying!
- Warm bath and lavender lotion. Lavender is used for calming and relaxing and can naturally help baby to get ready for bedtime. A warm bath will help them to feel warm and clean which makes for a good night's sleep.
- Try a crib mobile. A crib mobile that plays music and displays dim lights can help baby drift off. Keep in mind this doesn't work for all. My baby loved his but just wanted to play with it at first. Now I turn it on and he watches it until he goes to sleep.
- Try a sound machine. If you have other children or general noise that you can't control, try a sound machine to help block the unwanted noise.
- Make them cozy. Get them in some warm pajamas or a sleep sack. Make sure their room is a comfortable temperature. Be careful to not use loose crib sheets or blankets as this is a hazard for small babies.
- Daytime nap schedule. One of the biggest mistakes I made was not getting my baby on a regular daytime routine. I just let him fall asleep whenever and didn't keep track of the time. Big mistake! If they become so overtired and overstimulated, they will not get quality sleep or not sleep at all. My baby now takes three naps throughout the day at almost the exact same time every day which really helps him stay on track.
- Self soothe - Cry it out. Did you just gasp? Yes, I did too when I first heard this advice but hear me out. I made the mistake of rushing to the crib every time the baby made a peep. Finally, I let him fuss for a little bit and he would almost always end up rolling over and falling asleep. My limit is 5 minutes. I just cannot hear my baby cry for any longer than that. Consult with a doctor or sleep consultant if you are unsure of how long you should let them cry.
- Invest in a baby monitor. This may sound odd but the only way I can really fall asleep is if I have audio and video of what my baby is doing in the nursery so I have a video monitor.
- Mesh crib bumper. Crib bumpers go around the bars so that your little one doesn't get their arms and legs stuck between the bars. My husband said he's never seen me run so fast the time I heard our little guy screaming from being stuck! I recommend the mesh because it's safer for babies.
YOU CAN DO THIS! You will sleep again! So many people have said this to me, but it's true - it gets easier. It really does. I remember when people would tell me that it gets easier I would think to myself - "but I'm tired now!" You and your partner will get into the routine of things and hopefully you will be able to get some sleep again! I remember the first time my baby slept through the night and I felt "normal" again. It was so nice. Don't be surprised if it goes in waves. It did for me. We experienced some ups and downs when our baby was sick or teething. Check out our latest post for teething remedies. There are all kinds of factors that can throw them off. Whenever my baby has a rough night that is out of his normal sleep habits, I just hold him close and rock him to sleep because they are only little for so long. You will miss these "tired" nights someday.
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