Since the dawn of time, new mothers have sought out ways to improve the amount and quality of their sleep and their baby’s sleep. We’re sorry to say there is no magic trick to going back to your single gal Saturday sleep-ins.
In fact, many consider it a good thing that babies wake (and wake up their parents) so frequently – little tummies need refueling often, and frequent wake-ups allow you to give baby the nourishment, holding and snuggles he or she needs in order to grow!
A biggie for quality of sleep is knowing that your child is sleeping safely. This is covered in Part 1 of this blog post series on motherhood and sleep. Fortunately, safe sleep is a minimum threshold, and there’s lots more you can do to get your baby (and therefore you!) sleeping better and, maybe, just maybe, longer.
Many babies respond well to white noise. After all, they spent nine months listening to the reassuring gurgle of mama’s tummy, the rhythmic pumping of her heart, and burbling gas bubbles that she will never admit! Once they’re on the outside, babies can find complete quiet to be unsettling. That’s why many new parents invest in a white noise machine (there’s an app for that too). Or a very loud vacuum cleaner. Or three hair dryers. Or a radio … does anyone own a manual radio anymore?
Once you’ve got your little one sleeping soundly in their crib, you want to keep them there for a longish stretch of time (is all night too much to ask?). Since diapered tykes can “go” any time of day or night, consider investing in a fitted waterproof mattress cover. That way, when the sheets get wet (from spit-up, teething drool, or diaper explosion), you can change the sheet and put your little one back to bed immediately without having to waste precious sleep time drying the mattress.
Most new moms also opt for fitted sheets, for ease of changing the sheets and protecting the mattress when the sheets inevitably get…ahem…wet. Investing in a few good fitted sheets ensures baby always has something to sleep on and keeps you from doing laundry for a wet sheet in the middle of the night. It also lets you have fun coordinating your sheets with your nursery!
One thing that the sheets shouldn’t coordinate with in a newborn sleep sanctuary is pillows or blankets. Because a newborn doesn’t have the motor skills or strength to move these items, they pose a suffocation hazard. Consider swaddles, wearable blankets (aka sleep sacks) and other cute, warm sleep options until your little one is ready to graduate to real “big boy” bedding.
Many little ones need a reassuring night light in order to soothe them back to sleep after a midnight wakeup. If you’re the parent of one of these babies, consider yourself lucky that your little one doesn’t require nursing, rocking, a pacifier, a white noise machine, and three handstands by you before they will go back to sleep! Nightlights have the added benefit of making sure you don’t stub your toe on a toy box on your way in to soothe your infant. However, most nightlights are made with white and blue light, which is the kind which suppresses your sleep hormone melatonin the most. If your babe needs a night light, consider looking for lamps or night lights which use longer wavelength light, such as amber.
Now you have a few tips and tricks in your arsenal!