Sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and chaos are all rights of passage when becoming a parent. Especially if it’s your first, but even if it’s your second child, third, or more- getting adequate rest, and time to yourself can be a struggle. The best way to bring back structure and stability into your home after having your baby is getting your newborn on a sleep schedule… But how?
Well, I’ve had to do this not once, but three times. I know what it’s like to go without sleep and worse- to also wake up and have to care for other kiddos after a night of no sleep. It’s definitely not easy and if you have a great support system- don’t be afraid to use it! Above all else, now is the time to call in those favors.
But if you’re not close to friends and family or if you’re just having a tough time with this baby (because every child is different), you might need to try new things…
Three times tried and true, here are:
10 Ways to Get Your Newborn on a Sleep Schedule
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1) Determine the times when your baby is the most sleepy. Are they rubbing their eyes, cranky, or drifting off? Do they sleep right after eating? Take note of your infant’s behavior and create a corresponding sleep schedule. (Don’t worry- this schedule can eventually be adjusted to fit yours.) You don’t need a fancy timer or anything, just a piece of paper and a pen.
2) Stick to a specific schedule. Regardless of what life throws at you, baby’s sleep schedule takes priority. Let it be known that you are not available during baby’s sleep time. Don’t schedule any appointments, visits, or shopping trips during this time. If you are out, make sure you are back in time- without fail. It won’t always be like this- so don’t worry. But at least for the first month, you need to stay consistent to set up expectations!
3) Communicate it to the world! Post a sign on your front door or over your doorbell, letting people know not to ring. You can get a sign (like this) OR you can go a step beyond for those solicitors that tend to ignore the signs and get this doorbell cover. Make sure to turn off your phone and/or let friends and family know ahead of time that these are the hours you’re sleep training, so please DO NOT DISTURB. If you have pups that like to warn you of strangers (or strange noises), you might want to let them outside during nap time, too.
4) Create a sleep-time routine. There should be a routine in place right before you put baby to sleep. Feeding, reading a book, or quiet time in a rocking chair/glider before each sleep time lets baby know what to expect. Once they learn that this is what happens before sleep time, they’ll adjust accordingly. The key is consistency.
5) Set the tone. Babies need rest during the day, but bright lights and noise hardly signify sleep time. Dimming the lights, closing the blinds or curtains, and creating a sleep-inducing atmosphere helps to get your infant one step closer to drifting off. It also helps to put them in the same place to sleep for every nap.
6) Get a white noise maker. A white noise maker has saved me on many occasions. Ocean sounds, gentle rains, or heartbeat- whatever baby’s preference is, sets the mood and acts as a sound barrier against outside noises. It leaves you free to wash dishes, vacuum, or get some laundry done without disturbing the baby- and freedom is a wonderful thing for a sleep-deprived, exhausted Mom. (Check out the PORTABLE one I linked to above. Wish I had that for when we were out visiting or on vacation!)
7) Assess their situation. Make sure your little one is fed, burped, and has a clean diaper before putting them down. This might seem obvious (especially if this isn’t your first rodeo), but sleep deprivation sometimes messes with your brain function. One or all of these things can keep your baby from sleeping for an extended amount of time and should be checked BEFORE you put them down.
8) Swaddle. Some babies love to be swaddled, but some do not. My kiddos did not like to be swaddled, but it does come highly recommended from other Moms. Try swaddling to see if that works for your little one and it might be just the thing you needed to get some rest. You don’t have to buy a fancy swaddler, you can swaddle with any light blanket you have on hand. (TIP: I LOVE Muslin blankets! They come in handy for more than just swaddling, they’re very breathable and perfect as a breast feeding cover).
9) Find the Best Position. Does your baby have reflux? Do they cry and curve their back after feedings? Sometimes the best way to get a baby with reflux to sleep is in an inclined position. We had the Fisher Price Rock N Play that we loved because it was easily portable, but some babies love the swing and some love co-sleeping or being next to Mom. Finding the best position and place will take some trial and error (and every kiddo is different), but don’t waste your time sticking to one sleep location. Try a few to find what works best for your baby (and you).
10) Substitute Mom. Sometimes our little ones just miss us (they have no idea how much housework and/or rest we need ourselves! Placing your shirt, or something that smells like you in the crib with the baby might just ease their anxiety about being away from you.
Last but not least, NEVER SHOW FEAR!
Babies can sense fear, so make sure that you stay consistent and not unsure of yourself (this will come in handy as they get older, too). If they aren’t sick, follow the same steps every day. Even if they do end up sick, try to stick to the pattern as closely as you can and as soon as they start to feel better, get right back to the schedule. They have to think that there are no other options and this is what it is.
Those first few months with baby aren’t easy, but following these tips can make it a little easier on you both. The key is consistency. Be consistent and let little one know what to expect and when. This will put them on a schedule- which frees up a little time in yours!Find out how to get your #Newborn to sleep, so you can, too! Check it out: Click To Tweet
Do you have any tips to add to this list? What do/did you do to get your infant on a consistent sleep schedule?