Our Guide To Baby Sleep Aids
The truth is, newborn babies have short sleep cycles. They wake up frequently during both the day and night. Although these regular awakenings can be exhausting for parents, theyre important for a babys development, help regulate their breathing, and protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome .
Sleep aids can help settle babies and toddlers, but its important to consider their age and developmental stage when introducing one. No matter which sleep aid you choose, you should always follow safe sleep guidance.
How Much Do Premature Babies Sleep
Preterm infants can spend up to 90% of each day asleep. Although most infants younger than three months old tend to sleep between 16 and 17 hours per day, parents of preterm infants should expect their baby to sleep longer. Preterm infants are also more likely to act drowsy rather than alert when they are not sleeping.
Parents of preterm babies shouldnt compare their babys sleeping habits to those of full-term babies. Instead, they should discuss their specific circumstances with a doctor if they have concerns.
Keep Your Hands On Your Baby After Putting Him Down
One of the sensations of being held is that contact with your body, the warmth on her chest as it presses against yours. But after you put her down, this warmth goes away, leaving her exposed.
To mimic that feeling, try a little trick to make that transition easier:
Put her down just as shes about to sleep, but keep your cradling arm wrapped around her body and your other hand on her chest. If you can, you might even want to lightly keep your chest touching hers, as if youre still hugging and holding her lying down.
Then, as she drifts off to sleep, slowly remove and slide your cradling arm from underneath while still keeping your other hand on her tummy. And finally, remove the other hand so she can sleep alone.
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Check The Sleeping Environment
Your babys sleeping environment can make a big difference as to whether it will be easy or hard to stay asleep. A few things to make sure your sleep environment has:
- Darkened Room Dont let the sunlight wake your baby prematurely and, likewise, make sure any night lights arent too bright!
- White Noise Mimic the sounds of the room by playing white noise for at least 20-30 minutes or through the night. The volume should be about the sound of a running shower.
- Room Temperature Your babys room should be 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit . Again, overheating is a SIDS risk and, in addition, we simply sleep better in cooler temperatures. This is why parents in Nordic countries have their babies nap outside!
- Crib Toys Some families also use mobiles or other crib toys. These can help soothe baby to sleep by playing lullabies or giving baby something to look at as they drift off.
As with many things, every baby has different preferences so you will want to set up your babys sleep environment in a way that works for you and for them. You might need to experiment.
Create The Best Sleep Environment
Along with streamlining your bedtime routine, take stock of your sleep environment. Is your bedroom a relaxing place you actually want to fall asleep in? Keep clutter, exercise bikes, unfolded laundry, and that stack of bills out of the bedroom, says sleep educator Terry Cralle, MS, RN, CPHQ. These are distracting to a good nights sleep.
Additionally, dont feel bad if you need to take a temporary break from sleeping in the same bed with your partner. Opt for separate beds if you and your sleep partner are having bed-sharing issues, says Cralle. Sufficient sleep contributes to healthy and happy relationships, and sleeping in separate beds is a healthy option.
Creating a sleep-conducive environment isnt just for parents, either it actually applies to babies, too. If their environment is set up for great sleep, you will get longer stretches sooner, says certified pediatric sleep specialist Gaby Wentworth of Rockabye Rockies.
Swaddling, white noise machines, and a dark bedroom can all help baby stay asleep for longer periods.
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Appreciate The Power Of A 30
When youre running up an enormous sleep debt, you might think a 30-minute nap will make little difference to your health.
But recent research confirms that all naps are not the same. When youre sleep deprived, the brain compensates by rendering naps more restorative than usual.
In one study, volunteers permitted to sleep only 2 hours at night showed the typical abnormalities in their stress hormone and immune factor chemistry. But after just two 30-minute naps, those irregularities were entirely normalized .
In another study, volunteers coping with a 2-hour nightly regimen experienced heightened pain sensitivity a common symptom of sleep deprivation. But once again, the effect was reversed after just two 30-minute naps .
Get Sunlight And Avoid Artificial Lighting At Night
Make sure you expose yourself and your baby to bright light during the day. And keep lights outor at least dimmedafter sunset.
As noted above, natural lighting helps influence newborn sleep patterns. But it also helps you keep your own circadian rhythms from drifting, which is important if you are going avoid insomnia and be a source of daytime cues for your newborn.
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Why Babies Resist Sleep
Babies arent born ready to sleep through the night for 8 to 10 hours. In fact, there are concrete and science-backed reasons why babies dont sleep as much as youd like. Here are a few:
- During the first few weeks, they dont even know its nighttime. In the womb, day and night werent really a thing, so how would they know?
- Newborns eat every few hours and shouldnt be going too long without a feeding. Breastfed babies will eat
Use Night Time Rituals
If you create a consistent, yet boring routine, it is more likely that your newborn will sleep through the night. A bath, reading a story, singing a lullaby, or rocking for a few minutes are great ways to consistently wind your baby down for bedtime.
Many babies will prefer a specific sleepwear item to provide feelings of comfort, safety, and security as they head to bed. Medical studies have shown that babies sleeping in wool sleepwear settle more quickly, cry less, sleep longer, and even feed better. Woolino products are an excellent option as they are made with the Magic of Merino Wool, and the benefits are countless.
Putting your newborn to sleep with a predictable nighttime ritual will also come in handy down the road when your baby begins to go through sleep regressions.
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Dont Assume That Its Pointless To Lie Down If You Dont Fall Asleep You Might Pass Into A State Of Drowsy Semi
Too wired to sleep when the baby sleeps? If so, keep in mind that quiet resting is better than nothing. In fact, if you are lying down with your eyes closed, you might be asleep without realizing it.
In numerous lab studies, subjects who were awakened from the first stage of sleep often denied that they were asleep at all . A nap that consists only of stage 1 sleep might not help you improve your reaction times, but it will probably make you feel less tired. And if you manage to slip into the second stage of sleep even for just 3 minutes your nap may have recuperative effects .
How To Get A Newborn To Sleep
Here’s everything you need to know to improve your baby’s bedtime routine and get your newborn to sleep.
- Avoid overtiredness
- Create a soothing sleep environment
- Keep nighttime diaper changes quick
- Stick to a bedtime routine
- Be patient and consistent
Read on to learn how to put these newborn sleep tips into action.
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Safe Sleeping Where Should Your Baby Sleep
It’s up to you where your baby sleeps, but it is recommended that babies sleep in a cot in the same room as an adult for the first 6 to 12 months, since this has been shown to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome .
Always place a baby to sleep on their back with the head and face uncovered every time they sleep, night or day. Keep the room smoke-free.
Look Out For Tired Signs
Babies will show signs when they are getting tired such as grimacing, yawning, grizzling, frowning, sucking, staring, snuggling in, jerky movements, becoming over active, clenching fists, rubbing eyes, fussiness or crying. Responding early to these tired signs prevents your baby becoming distressed and makes it easier for them to sleep.
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How Can Light Soothe My Baby To Sleep
Bright household lights can have an alerting effect. So, specially designed baby sleep aids and night lights are a great alternative to regular bulbs.
Melatonin is the hormone that regulates the body clock and makes us feel sleepy. Our research shows that warm red light can help to encourage melatonin production. This signals to your babys brain that its time to start winding down and get ready for sleep.
A darkened room tells little ones that its time for rest. So, in the summer months when the sun rises early and sets late, its a good idea to put up a blackout blind to keep your babys sleeping environment dark and cozy.
Dreamegg D11 White Noise Machine
This portable sleep aid has a rechargeable battery , plus 11 different sounds to play to your baby at bedtime. The sounds include lullabies, the sounds of nature such as water and the wind in a forest and the volume is adjustable through a wide range of levels. Theres also white noise too of course. You can attach it to wherever your baby is sleeping their cot or crib, a pushchair or a travel cot and you can even use it in the car. Theres a helpful adjustable night light to help you change nappies in the night, which can be turned off when you dont need it.
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Perfect Your Swaddle Technique
I cant tell you how many parents tell me their kid hates the swaddle. But nothing could be further from the truth. In my experience, while there are a few babies that truly hate the swaddle, most parents mistake their childs fussing for hate. Try to implement use of the swaddle for naps and at bedtime. Try it for several weeks for each sleep period before writing it off.
When Can Babies Fall Asleep On Their Own
Your pediatrician is your best resource to know exactly when your baby can fall asleep on his own. But in general, babies in the newborn stagethe fourth trimester, as they saystill need help falling asleep.
That said, you can still set good sleep habits even now that encourage him to sleep independently. Make every first attempt an opportunity for him to fall asleep on his own .
And if he cries hysterically? Then yes, scoop him up and try something else. Maybe this time youll put him in the swing, carry him in a wrap, or try an infant cushion. And if he truly isnt having any of it, then hold him in your arms to help him sleep.
He might still need help falling asleep a lot of times, but at least youre consistently giving him a chance to do it on his own, too.
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How Much Sleep A Newborn Baby Needs
Your baby will need about 9 to 18 hours of sleep until they are 3 months old. The average they will sleep is about 14.5 hours.
Your baby is unique and may sleep differently to other babies. Some babies sleep for long periods, others for short bursts. They will sleep during the day and night. They might sleep for anything between a few minutes to a few hours at a time.
Newborn babies dont know the difference between day and night. Their sleep is more likely controlled by their tummies.
When Should You Stop Swaddling
Experts say you should stop swaddling by the time your baby can roll. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines say to stop swaddling by the time your little one is 2 months old.
Before you commit this bit of information to memory, understand that all babies are different. If you have a little one who is rolling early, youll want to stop swaddling sooner. Be sure to bring up this question with your pediatrician to get more specific guidelines for swaddling with your baby.
Around 3,500 infants die each year in the United States from what are called sleep-related deaths. Some of these deaths are caused by SIDS. Others may be due to unsafe sleep practices.
Here are some tips for how to practice safer infant sleep:
You might also examine your own habits surrounding bedtime and otherwise. Part of safe sleep is staying alert and keeping the home free from smoke and other harmful substances. This means eliminating exposure to things like smoking or misuse of alcohol or drugs.
If you need help, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-622-HELP or visit their website.
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Use White Noise When Putting Your Newborn To Sleep
If you notice that your newborn tends to fall asleep in a noisier environment as opposed to a completely silent environment, she will likely benefit from a white noise machine. White noise can drown out household sounds such as older siblings, pets, and the television. Some white noise machines even have a heartbeat setting to mimic a mothers heartbeat, which is very comforting to newborns as they sleep at night. The volume should be just loud enough to drown out any background noise. If the sound is too loud, then the machine, itself, will become a distraction.
Sleep During Their Nap
Yes, their naps are a great time to get something done, but if you need rest, Dr. Sears encourages you to take that time to sleep, and to nap while the baby is napping. Instead of feeling like you have to clean the house or make a home-cooked meal, allow yourself to take a nap . This is the time to cut yourself some slack and get into survival mode, says Dr. Karp. The dishes can wait, the toddler toys on the floor can wait, writing thank you cards can wait your mental and physical health cannot.
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Understand Your Baby’s Sleep Needs
During the first 2 months, your newborn’s need to eat overrules their need to sleep. They may feed almost every 2 hours if you’re breastfeeding, and possibly a little less often if you bottle-feed.
Your baby may sleep from 10 to 18 hours a day, sometimes for 3 to 4 hours at a time. But babies donât know the difference between day and night. So they sleep with no regard for what time it is. That means your babyâs wide-awake time may be from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
By 3 to 6 months, many babies are able to sleep for a stretch of 6 hours. But just as you think your baby is getting into a nice routine — usually between 6 and 9 months — normal developmental stages can throw things off. For instance, when your baby begins to associate bedtime with being left alone, they may start crying just to keep you around.
Be Aware Of Food Sensitivities
Exposure to different foods and flavors begins in utero, and your babys ability to process certain foods will develop and get stronger throughout the first year of his life. As your baby grows, he may develop one or more food sensitivity. This is especially true in breastfed babies. For example, a newborn baby may have a difficult time digesting garlic or other spices within breast milk. If your baby is crying, arching her back, and has a stiff belly, then she may be experiencing a food sensitivity. The good news is that these symptoms typically pass after a bowel movement.
Once you identify which food caused this discomfort, you can eliminate it from your diet while breastfeeding. This should ensure that your baby will sleep at night more comfortable and uninterrupted.
If your baby is at least 6 months old, and you have concerns related to how solid foods may be interfering with her sleep, please refer to “How Certain Foods Can Affect Your Childs Sleep.”
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Week 1: Transition To The Crib
If youre using a bassinet or some type of crib made for the newest baby you may have noticed its getting a little bit smaller. Thats because your newborn is growing!
Most bassinets are safe for 3 months or younger. As you get closer to 12 weeks its good to consider transitioning your baby to the crib.
To start make sure your standard crib is set up properly and that the mattress is at the correct height. You dont need any bells or whistles like blankets, pillows or bumpers to keep your baby comfortable. Safety is essential and anything like that is not safe for a sleeping baby.
Some babies do just fine getting placed in the crib. Other newborns might need help with the transition. In that case, start small. Use naptimes to get your baby used to their new sleep space and gradually add in additional naps or bed-time. As always follow the same nap-time and bedtime routine and always lay your baby on their back.