Taking care of a newborn baby can be tricky especially for the first time new parents. Getting them down for their naps or bedtime is by itself a whole ordeal that parents need to master. It may be hard at first, but it helps to develop a plan and implement by seeing what works best for your baby. New mothers may find it overwhelming and stressful to get the baby’s sleep schedule on track. Here are few tips and suggestions that could go a long way in helping you figure out your baby’s sleep schedule and pattern. You can use a combination of whatever you and your baby find comfortable.
Till your baby is about 4-5 months, they tend to have a feeling associated with startle reflex where the baby experiences a falling sensation. These jerking movements can cause your baby to keep waking up. Tight swaddling keeps the baby from startling themselves awake as it offers a secure feeling, helping them sleep better and longer. You can stop swaddling the whole body once they get their arms out and roll over.
Limit nap lengths during the day
Sleeping for long periods of time during the day can keep your baby up for longer at night. It may be hard to wake a sleeping baby, but it is essential to ensure that a proper bedtime regime is followed to allow for a goodnight’s rest. The ideal duration for napping would be 2-2.5 hours, and you can break it up during the day. Of course, if your baby is unusually tired on a particular day you can let him/ her nap for a while longer to ensure proper rest, do what works best for your baby.
A dream feed is a sleepy milk feed you give to the baby while they are asleep, before you go to bed yourself. The dream feed technique can help your baby sleep longer especially while you are asleep. This is one of the easiest ways to get them to sleep because of the hormones released during the process. You can alternate this with other sleep cues if you are worried about it becoming a habit.
Set bedtime routines
By this, we mean practice specific routines for your baby before bedtime that would act as a cue for your baby to let them know that it’s time to go to sleep. For, e.g. giving your baby a warm bath before bedtime will aid in relaxation and this will help condition them to fall asleep if practiced from the start.
Studies suggest that spending 15 minutes massaging your baby before bedtime helps them fall asleep faster. Try this out for a month, and you will see the difference in how quickly your baby falls asleep and their duration of sleeping also lasts longer. There are many baby massaging technique videos and information available online and in books that you can learn from and try on your baby.
Rocking your baby to sleep
It is an age-old practice and time-tested but is still effective to this day. Rocking your baby from side to side gently puts them to sleep quickly. The swaying motion induces sleep when done for a few minutes. Nowadays you even find baby hammocks for this purpose that it starts rocking the baby automatically if its senses any movement or fidgeting from the baby during the middle of its sleep.
Cut down on caffeine
You drinking tea or coffee can affect the baby if you are breastfeeding. The caffeine gets easily transferred through your breast milk to the baby, and newborn babies are highly vulnerable to caffeine. It stimulates the baby and can keep them awake longer if you are taking more coffee or tea and it will be difficult to get them to sleep at all.
Differentiate between day and nights
Try to instill in your baby the difference between day and nights. While daytime can be brighter and more energetic be it with lighting or the sounds they are exposed to, let night times be accompanied by low light and soothing gentle sounds that are suggestive of bedtime. This, if followed by practice, will allow your baby to get used to the idea of bedtime.
Do not disturb
Putting your baby to sleep after feeding is an effective way to get them to sleep quickly as discussed before. However, try to change their diapers either before or during the feed as you don’t want to disturb them from their dizzy feeling once they are full. Changing before feeding will ensure that you can put them to sleep immediately after they are full and ready to doze off.