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The one standard piece of advice every pregnant woman receives is to sleep as much as possible. Sleep is practically impossible once the baby arrives. Unfortunately, no mom believes or practices it and realizes its truth only when the baby arrives.
In fact, according to research, new parents lose about 3 hours of sleep every night in their baby’s first year. So here is a list of 5 useful tricks that will help your baby and you sleep better.
While it’s not possible to say which gives the best results for your baby, you will find your trick through trial and error.
1. Develop a sleep routine and pattern
Did you know that while you may complain of insufficient sleep, newborns sleep about 16 hours a day? Yes, the problem, however, is that they don’t sleep it at a stretch. It splits across a few hours’ stretches throughout the day. It’s left to you to develop a sleep pattern that suits both of you.
The best way to do this is by reducing daytime naps to 30-45 minutes. Don’t let your baby sleep for more than 3 hours. It’s better to wake your baby if she sleeps for more than 2-2.5 hours at a go.
Then feed and keep her awake for some time before laying her down for another nap. Once she gets used to an ‘eat-play-sleep’ pattern, it soon becomes her routine.
Reducing daytime naps makes your baby feel tired, giving her a better chance of sleeping at night. Besides, you also get to squeeze in more feeds throughout the day instead of night-time, which is helpful.
Of course, there will be days when your baby is overtired, like when you go shopping or make some other changes in her daily routine. If that’s the case, it’s better to let her sleep longer for that one nap and then return to her everyday routine.
This compromise is essential.
Otherwise, your baby will only end up fussy, overtired, and even crankier to put to bed without sufficient sleep. Napping will take some time to develop. Don’t expect miracles, but with some patience, your baby will adopt the right sleep pattern.
2. Practice good sleeping habits
There are a few good sleeping habits worth taking like:
a) Maintaining a consistent bedtime
Bedtime consistency helps because babies love routines. Try signaling it’s time to sleep by bathing and cuddling her and singing songs, reading, or playing some soft music.
It’s better doing all this in a quiet and softly lit room before your baby gets tired. Avoid over-stimulating your baby in the evening as it makes her alert and wide awake.
b) Change her diaper changing time
Most parents opt to change their baby’s diaper after the night feeding, which only awakens the baby and makes it more challenging to fall asleep. It’s instead better to change diapers before any middle-of-night feed. You this way won’t disturb her if she’s drowsy after her feed.
The very young newborn babies tend to poop immediately after a night feeding. It is universal because your baby’s gut needs time to mature. So it’s better to change diapers later if your baby usually poops after a night feed. You can always start changing diapers before the feed once her gut matures.
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3. Try giving full feeds
Babies sleep better on a full stomach. However, it’s not always that they have a full feed before sleeping. They tend to get tired and fall asleep after about 10 minutes of feeding and, with time, even stop night feeds.
You have to try to get them to complete a feed, or at least stay awake through the feed. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to force-feed your baby.
You can try to awaken her for about 10-15 minutes, but not longer if she refuses to get up. She may get hungry and have a full feed the next time she’s awake. However, please try to ensure she doesn’t miss more than three full feedings.
4. Maintain the same sleeping environment
It’s better if you can maintain the same sleeping environment for your baby. They, this way, get accustomed to waking up in the same place every day and don’t get so cranky.
Start by getting your baby used to taking daytime naps in her baby bassinet if you want to make her get used to sleeping in it at night.
Babies always sleep better in a calm and low-key environment, with dim lights. Talk or sing to her with a soft voice and use gentle movements when around her. Your baby associates all of this with sleep time and slowly falls asleep.
5. Swaddling babies help them sleep better
Swaddling is an ancient art practiced by many cultures for centuries, proving it’s indeed effective at making a baby sleep. If you wonder why and how, it’s because they feel safe when wrapped.
Babies have a natural, startle reflex from birth that lasts for about four to five months. They feel as if they are falling, and this makes them get up from sleep. Swaddling prevents babies from startling and getting up, to help them sleep better.
Babies feel as snug as they used to while in the mother’s womb, and sleep better swaddled a thin blanket or sheet. They feel so secure that they don’t cry much or feel over-stimulated, and slowly fall asleep.
Once you start swaddling her before sleeping, it becomes a part of her routine, indicating it’s time to sleep.
Last but not least, but most importantly, respect your baby’s sleep preferences.
There are two types of babies-night owls and early birds, and you can’t change their sleeping habits much. You can instead try these tricks and adjust your routine to revolve around her natural sleep pattern.
Most importantly, start these routines as quickly as possible so that your baby gets used to it. With consistency and patience, you will surely find your baby sleeping better with the help of these five tricks!