Tips to Help Babies Sleep

I wish my baby slept like a baby

You’ve just brought home your bundle of joy, and while you feel proud and excited, you also feel anxious and tired. As you’ve probably heard, this is quite normal, and you have nothing to worry about. However, it’s common for new mothers to feel isolated and unsure of themselves. Here are a few tips for both you and baby to feel taken care of and to get more rest.

Tips for YOU to cope with baby’s arrival

Let people help you, whether it’s the father of the baby, your own parents, or friends. If someone offers to bring a meal or clean your home, say “Yes, please!” Don’t feel about it- in a few months, everything will be running smoothly and you can return the favor.

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Whether it’s a cat nap, a long afternoon nap, or an earlier than usual; evening, catch sleep when you can. Again, in a few weeks, you will have a more predictable sleep routine and you can push yourself a little more.

Take care of yourself. To avoid feeling down, try to get a quick shower and get dressed for the day. This makes a lot of new mothers feel more like themselves.
Take a little time for you. It may be hard to schedule, but do your best to have a little time each day or couple of days that you can relax and not feel responsible for baby. This is where accepting help comes in: your spouse, family, or friends are eager to hold your baby, which affords you much-needed downtime. They’ll let you know if baby needs you, so you don’t have to worry. What you do with that time is up to you!

Be aware of post-partum depression signs and symptoms. Many, many women have suffered PPD, and there is a lot of help out there. Don’t be ashamed or feel weak to admit you might be struggling with some or all of them. Talk to someone and seek help.

Tips for BABY’s sleep

Every baby is different. There is no formula. However, you have an advantage in that this baby is yours. You will spend more time with him/her than anyone these first few weeks, so you will learn how to confidently asses what baby needs.

Don’t memorize any parenting books, especially those on sleep patterns. At least not yet. Repeat to yourself, “Every baby is different…every baby is different….every baby is different” as often as you need to. Your best friend’s baby may be sleeping through the nap or taking great naps, but there’s no need to compare.

Watch your baby. Most babies have signs telling you they are tired. These signs may not manifest immediately after birth, but you will notice them developing if you keep watching:

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  • Yawning
  • Rubbing hair, ears, or eyes
  • Fussing
  • Glazed expression

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Newborns won’t show those signs. Rest assured, they’ll mostly want to sleep at first. They may not sleep when you want them to, but they will sleep. Learn what your baby likes:

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  • Being held a certain way (football hold, horizontally, vertically, snuggled up)
  • Held versus laid down (shockingly, some babies prefer being laid down in a crib or an infant seat)
  • Feeding to sleep (pretty common)
  • Swaddled with a large, thin blanket (mimics the womb)
  • Close to a heartbeat (also mimics the womb)

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Don’t feel guilty. It’s important to recognize that even if you want to hold your baby all the time, it’s not realistic. Don’t feel guilty if you need to set him down for a few minutes. Many women swaddle their babies snuggly with a large, thin blanket and/or use a sound machine to imitate mama’s heartbeat- both of these are common sleep aides for young babies because they mimic the womb experience where baby was completely cared for.

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  • Remind yourself that these sleepless days (and nights) will pass. Women wouldn’t keep having babies if they didn’t.
  • Most babies start to consolidate night-time sleep at 6 weeks (this does not mean they are sleeping through the night, but that they sleep during those hours and in between most feedings).
  • Most babies develop a regular morning nap around 12-16 weeks, which may vary in length and starting time. However, it is at this time that you can usually count on them taking a morning nap.
  • Most babies develop a regular afternoon nap around 4 months. Who knows why this nap takes longer to get established, but it seems to be the case for most infants.
  • Many, though not all, babies take a 3rd later afternoon nap to tide them over until bedtime, which usually happens between 6pm-8pm.

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[box style=”info”]*Remind yourself that these are just averages of what women report to their doctors. Do not be worried if your baby’s sleep schedule looks nothing like this.[/box]

Enjoy your baby! As they say, babies and children grow up too fast! The first few weeks and even months may seem to crawl by, but before you know it, you’ll all be sleeping at fairly normal hours again. So, for now, just enjoy holding and loving your baby.

Bottom line, you need to take care of yourself to take care of your baby. You do not need to be super-mom and do it all yourself because there’s not a prize for being self-sufficient. So, let people help you because they want to and because, if you’re honest, you need it. Lastly, remember that your baby is a baby, not a machine. She will not be predictable for a while, which is very normal. So don’t stress about it, just sleep when you can!