“You’ll never sleep again.” That’s what you’ll often hear from friends and relatives once your baby is born. Don’t worry – it’s really not that bad… If you actually had a stopwatch that activated when your baby was sleeping, it would come out to about 16 hours per day!
So why does your baby stay up for five hours every night? Too much sleep during the day? Too many exciting things just before bed? No routine? Here are some tricks to make life a little easier on yourself.
Sharing the experience
One of the most effective strategies, if you have a partner, is to trade nights. Every second night, without fail, one person gets to sleep all night while the other tends to the baby’s requirements. That way you’ll have one “good” day, and one day where you might be a bit haggard. If it’s your night, grab an early nap yourself in the evening so you are ready to lose some sleep. Often the best idea is to go to bed when the baby goes to sleep. That way you get to maximize your rest before it’s interrupted. Some people even adopt the strategy of sleeping in the baby’s room, away from the parent who gets to sleep that night. The response time is faster and leaves the lucky parent to slumber undisturbed.
Of course people sometimes don’t have a separate room for the baby and the baby shares the parents’ bedroom. Less convenient in some respects, certainly, but there is a neat trick you can try if you have a rocking cradle ─ tie a string to the cradle and you can rock it remotely without getting out of your nice warm bed.
Another thing to keep baby patient, unfussy and happy is swaddling. Many parents don’t do this during the first two months (before the baby learns to roll over and you have to phase it out). It helps to develop good sleeping habits and can make your life down-the-road so much better. But there is a proper, safe way to do it. Click here to read more about swaddling
For Crying Out Loud
“Just let her cry it out” is heartbreaking advice for most parents. Bedtime should be happy time; sleep should be a safe place where you can spend the whole night comfortably. The secret is routine, not additional stress. Here’s what you should try out:
- As close to the same time as possible, right after the bath, feed, etc. go for a rock-walk around the house; some carry in arms, some wear the sling – it’s all good – motion equals sleep.
- Sit down, holding your baby, and sing a bedtime song (it’s not a particular song – it’s the one you pick for only that time of day and never any other time).
- Make your routine part of her routine such as you quietly watch the news, get up, and make some chicken broth or read a book and if you find her drifting off, that’s your new method. Smell is a powerful memory inducer so the smell of chicken broth can signal bed time.
- Some parents buckle baby into a car seat, take the baby for a drive, it nods off, and they drive home. While it is true that this works, it is for a last resort. If you can just be consistent, and build “bedtime-is-coming” associations in your baby’s mind you will be so far ahead of the game.
FREE EBOOK: Practical Sleep Guide for Newborns and Toddlers