There is not a parent alive who doesn’t know that after you have a baby, you’re in for some sleepless nights. Somehow these little bundles of joy just don’t come into the world on the same kind of sleep schedules that we adults would like to keep. Nor do they differentiate night time and day time very well for the first few months. And, funny thing, as much as mom and dad might need some sleep, the baby just doesn’t seem to notice that…or care.
First things first. You need to brace yourself, because you are going to get less sleep, especially for the first few months. But, with that being said, there are some things you can do to help satisfy your baby’s needs quickly and efficiently, helping her (hopefully) get back to sleep more quickly. While every baby is different, and there is no surefire way to get baby to sleep until she’s good and ready to, here are some things that may help your baby-and you- to get a little more sleep at night.
- Keep the lights turned down as low as practical while feeding, changing, and otherwise taking care of your baby. While this doesn’t guarantee baby will fall right back to sleep, turning a lot of bright lights on virtually guarantees that you will both be up for a while. Dimmer switches are a great investment if you don’t already have them.
- When feeding baby at night, avoid eye contact. This is hard for many parents, but it reinforces in baby’s mind that night time is for sleeping. Of course, you will want to give lots of eye contact during the day time while feeding baby, as this is important for his development, but at night it is best to make the feeding as unstimulating as possible. Baby needs to eat, but he doesn’t need a lot of extra stimulation.
- Keep changing items close to where baby sleeps. Make sure everything you need is there, including changing pad, diapers, wipes, and baby powder. When it comes to night time changing, the more quickly and gently you can get it done, the sooner the baby can relax and get back to sleep.
- Swaddle your newborn. Swaddling recreates the snug sensation babies feel in the womb, and is very comforting for them when they are trying to fall back asleep.
- Provide white noise for your baby. This is especially important if you live somewhere that tends to be noisy, but even if you live in a quiet place, the added noise can actually help baby relax.
- Take naps while your baby is sleeping. While this doesn’t directly help your baby get to sleep, it will help you retain your sanity later when she doesn’t.