Motherhood is definitely priceless yet it's overwhelming. How to hold a baby? When and how to feed her? How to change the diapers, choose the accessories, clothes, and toys. And of course, how to put your baby to sleep at night are few of the many challenging tasks you want to excel in no time.
Putting the baby to sleep and ensuring she stays asleep for longer seems a mission impossible at times, especially during the first few days, weeks or even months after the birth. Since no two babies are same, there is no one size fits all strategy when it comes to how to put your newborn baby to sleep. However, there are some tested general recommendations that will help you make a good-night sleep pattern.
Understand the Sleep Patterns
According to studies, newborns have no sense of day and night. They tend to sleep for 14 to 18 hours a day and often wake up any time during the day or night to eat since their tiny stomach can't hold enough to keep them satisfied for long.
For initial 2-3 weeks, observe the duration they sleep after feeding. You will soon understand when your baby needs food, when to change diapers and how long you can rest while she is sleeping? Also watch for sleepy cues such as yawning, getting cranky or staring off the space.
Create a Cozy Ambience
Your baby was in the womb for 9 months and had a cuddly, comfy and dark environment there. A sudden change of surroundings can disturb them. So ensure you provide a similar dark and comfy space.
It is suggested to use a bassinet with fitted mattress and sheet for first few months. According to Momandbabylab, co sleepers are good for keeping baby closer, because they are small and easy to move. Many bassinets have a canopy to control the light and they even fit close to your bed so you don't need to get off the bed during the night to soothe or feed your little one.
Use Lights Strategically
Babies don't differentiate between day or night, however, they are sensitive to light. Dim the light at night to create a sleepy atmosphere. You can install dimmers on your lights or use a small, night light that has a cooling effect.
Let plenty of natural light enter the room during the daytime so that your baby starts adapting to the change of light and better connect it with sleep.
Maintain the Temperature
Ensure the temperature in your baby's room is comfortable. Anything too warm or too cool can irritate them and disturb sleep. The placement of baby's bedding should also be strategical. Don't put it in the direct pathway of your air-conditioning or heating vents. Also, keep it away from doors or windows to avoid sudden temperature fluctuations when you open them.
Another important thing to maintain the temperature is to not over-bundled the baby. It is advisable to dress her in layers so you can regulate the body temperature and comfort level accordingly. Usually, an additional layer to what you can wear comfortably is enough for a warm and cozy sleep.
Clear the Clutter
Remove the unnecessary stuff such as blanket, pillow, toys etc. from the bassinet or crib. Let your baby feel the difference between a playpen and a place to sleep. Clearing the clutter is also important to ensure the baby has no risk of SIDS.
Use Sounds to Soothe
You can use a white noise machine to help your little one sleep better. The white noise will cancel out house noise and other distracting sounds. Later your baby will start associating the sound with sleep. You can bring a portable white noise machine and always keep it on the lowest setting away from the baby to create a soothing environment.
Make a Bedtime Routine
You can't be rigid with a routine but a pattern is always helpful in synchronizing their biological clock. A gentle bath without much noise or play, change of clothes and diaper and some feed at a fixed time every night would help your baby understand it's time to sleep. And once your baby is deep sleeping, relax with rules for diaper changing.
Give Some Dream Feed
Feed your baby before you go to bed while she is still asleep. The extra feeding will keep her belly full for longer and you both will have a longer uninterrupted sleep.
Other Things to Consider
- Try let you, baby, soothe herself, don't rush if she wakes up in the middle of the night.
- Put her to bed when she is sleepy, not asleep.
- Do not play with her if she wakes up, instead avoid eye contact. If you start talking, playing or maintain an eye-contact during the night, the baby feels it's time to wake up.
- When sleeping, gently put your hand on her stomach, head or ars to make her feel secure and comfortable at night.
- Put on comfortable and breathable sleepwear made of natural fibers.
- A gentle massage for 15-20 minutes before bedtime can help baby sleep faster.
- Naps during the day are also very important for your baby's physical and mental growth. So never omit naps in hope of long night sleeps.
- Use super-absorbent overnight-diapers and a good diaper cream for uninterrupted sleep.
As all babies are different, you never know what will work for yours. With a firstborn, most mommies often marvel at the instinctual connection they have with their babies. Some babies fall asleep right when moms breastfeed them, some sleep when you walk them around. A pacifier is another sleep-enhancer for many babies.
Since consistency is a key, so stick to whatever routine you have decided to follow and what is most suitable for the little one.