There are a few things to expect when your baby arrives: Your baby will eat (a lot). Your baby will be a diaper-soiling machine. Your baby will sleep like a baby.
But let’s get one thing straight; sleeping like a baby doesn’t mean your baby will sleep through the night, or as long as you’d like either. Heck, what it really means is you’re not going to get the sleep you want either, but that’s okay. The best thing you could do in preparation for your newborn is set realistic expectations for their sleep habits, and your sleep habits too. Now if you’ve already had your baby and it’s 3 am while you’re reading this, then it’s still not too late to adjust your expectations.
Babies aren’t ideal sleepers, but that’s adult perception. Babies are all different, some sleep 10 hours straight others sleep 10 minutes straight. If you’re having a hard time with sleep, you are not alone!
It doesn’t stop there though; there are a few things you could do to create a better sleeping environment for your baby and in turn you.
1. Nice and Cool
Do you sleep with one leg out from under the covers? Do feel better rested when the ac is on? That’s because humans better sleep when it’s between 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s exactly the temp needed for your little one too. Set the thermostat to the desired temp (we used 70°F) about 30 mins to 1 hour ahead of time to make sure it’s ready to go.
2. Fill ‘Er Up!
With the holidays upon us, we’ve got some eating to do. Remember last year after thanksgiving dinner, how you fell asleep (food coma) and woke up like a week later, still full? Going to bed after a good filling meal helps you sleep longer, and it does the same for baby. The nice thing is there is no real cooking involved to feed your little one if they’re still on milk. It’s even easier if your breast feeding because it’s on tap and the white gold is known to have a balance of nutrients, hormones, and other magic that helps induce longer sleep. Get that last meal in before your baby hits the swaddle, and watch as you squeeze in some uninterrupted sleep for yourself too.
3. Swaddle Game Strong
I used to fall right asleep when mom would tuck me in nice and tight as a kid. To this day she still tucks me in (just kidding! That would be weird!)—but I definitely find myself pulling the covers tightly around myself while sleeping. If you’re “swaddle game is on fleek” as I’ve heard the millennial parents say, then you’re going to reap the reward of longer sleep for baby and you. Your baby is used to sleeping in a nice cozy environment (mom’s belly) and the swaddle can emulate a similar environment and lead to longer sleep. Also, no one has ever said “swaddle game is on fleek” but that doesn’t mean we can’t start using that saying! Who’s with me?!... Okay I’ll stop.
4. Make Some Noise!
I’ve heard about parent’s putting their baby to sleep while they hold them in one arm and vacuum with the other. Apparently the sound has sort of a white noise effect, but I’m a little weary about the balance it takes to accomplish this feat. If you’re going to try this, maybe you can just turn it on and have hubby vacuum while you rock baby to sleep (might get him tricked into actually cleaning. Ha!) BUT this isn’t the tip, the tip is to be okay with some noise. Getting baby used to sleeping through mom and dad having a conversation in the other room, or watching tv in the living room, or even some light cooking is a good thing. My wife and I used to talk, lightly clean, make dinner, watch a movie, etc.. The ambient noise cannot be avoided forever, so don’t even try. So long as you’re not at yelling and banging pots and pans, you’re allowed to make some noise.
P.S. There is research that proves the sound from a 1966 Ford Mustang or Camaro engine is the perfect lullaby for a newborn. It has to be authentic though, scientist have proven that recordings don’t work… You’re welcome dads.
5. In The Absence Of Light, There Is Sleep
I can catch a snooze in most situations like a noisy environment, backless stool (I’ve told some of you that during the birth story at the end of Bradley Method Class), a bright room, etc.. My wife on the other hand is a lighter sleeper. Her kryptonite being a “bright room”, like we’re talking moonlight bright. So we bought blackout curtains, and they work great. The blackout curtains keep it dark, but it also keeps the temp constant in the room too. How does this help your baby sleep? Well if you remember earlier, I mentioned that they were used to sleeping in the womb because of coziness, well, it’s also very dark in there. What you’re doing with the blackout curtains is replicating the environment your little one was used to in the belly. Not that I needed them, but they even let me sleep better.
I hope this helps you reclaim some sleep, or at least give you some more consistency. Routine is your friend, so even putting one of these tips into play consistently will help you and baby. Your baby’s sleep is exactly that, and although it can be frustrating for you as a parent, it’s a normal thing. Babies are designed to cry, and fuss, and wake up, they are great indicators that your baby is healthy, and thriving. You’re baby isn’t abnormal, and isn’t asking you to let him/her cry it out (that won’t let anyone sleep).
Above all, understand that your new sleep routine is just that, it may not be ideal or even “get better”, but being open minded, and shifting your expectations on what sleep is supposed to be like, will help you avoid stress and feel better rested overall. Lastly, this won’t be forever, sleep patterns change and can get better, or you will get used to it.