No one appreciates the value of good sleep quite like a parent to a brand new baby. Waking every few hours, round the clock (if you’re lucky, that is!) is a tall task, and new mothers meet this task with a brave face and a big yawn every day.
Mothers around the world seek out how to get more and better sleep. The common wisdom is to “sleep when the baby sleeps”. Yeah right. Will you clean when the baby cleans, or prepare food, shower, run the laundry and pay bills when the baby does these things as well? So what’s the actual low-down on how to ensure that mom and baby can optimize their sleep?
First and foremost is safety. Parents sleep better when they know their bundle of joy is sleeping safely. It’s recommended that newborns sleep in the same room as their parents in the early weeks and months. Whether that’s in a bassinet, a crib or a co-sleeping or bed-sharing arrangement (where baby sleeps in the same bed as mom), there are steps you can take to ensure the safety of the arrangement.
For instance, consider the mattress. If you choose to co-sleep, keep in mind that adult mattresses are not designed for infants. Consider sleeping on a firm mattress that your baby is less likely to sink into. Definitely eliminate duvets, thick comforters and pillows. While these items are almost as snuggly as your little babe, they are also too heavy for their little bodies to move which poses a suffocation risk. Many new parents considering a co-sleeping arrangement also get rid of the bed frame and opt to keep the mattress on the floor instead, to keep baby from falling a far distance in case of an accidental roll off the side of the bed.
Some new parents are afraid of co-sleeping because a heavy adult sleeper with a heavy adult arm and body may accidentally roll over or smother their precious new cargo while in deep sleep. Bassinets next to the bed are the solution for those who choose not to share their beds with baby. Bassinets are an excellent space-saving and often lightweight way to dock your little one next to your bed in the early months. There are stationary bassinets, portable bassinets and play yards, and adorable but short-lived Moses baskets. While bassinets tend to be used for a few months at most, they are designed with baby’s sleep safety in mind. They also have the added benefits of being small, which makes baby feel cozy for sleep, and being right next to your bed, which saves you from having to stumble across the house in the dark for the umpteenth time at night. Which is always a plus!
Most babies eventually end up in a crib. Crib mattresses are like adult mattresses, but of course much smaller. The well-known makers of adult mattresses also make excellent crib mattresses. These can come in foam, innerspring and other varieties. There are also organic mattresses which can be quite worth the splurge, considering that your little one will spend around 18 hours a day sleeping!
One of the key considerations in a crib mattress is firmness. Babies need a firm surface to sleep on, as overly soft surfaces are believed to increase the risk of suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). A neat feature of many crib mattresses is that they are dual-sided: a firm side for infants and a softer side you can flip to when your little one becomes a toddler. Whatever material you choose, look at a mattress whose fabrics are OEKOTEX, certified, meaning they don’t contain toxic or harmful substances.
Another consideration is size. Full-sized crib mattresses must be at least 27 1/4 inches by 51 5/8 inches, and no more than 6 inches thick. Whichever mattress you choose, make sure it fits inside your chosen crib snugly, so your baby can sleep snug as a bug without wedging any little limbs between the mattress and the crib! If two or more fingers fit between your crib and your mattress, the mattress is too small.
Now that you can sleep soundly knowing your baby is sleeping safely, tune in for the next post, which covers the cute stuff – bedding, night-lights and baby pyjamas!