The moment your bundle of joy entered the world was likely the happiest of your life. This little human for you to mold, teach, inspire, and guide on their journey through life. Can you remember the moment? Joy, excitement, anticipation, and fear all rolled into one big ball of emotion.
However, reality has set in, and your concoction of emotions around a big life change has likely been replaced by one overwhelming feeling: exhaustion. In the first two years of a newborn’s life, parents on average lose six months’ worth of sleep. Just as you want to get frustrated with the little one, you remember that most of that sleep loss is because the babies themselves can’t sleep.
Don’t panic! There are quick tricks that you can start implementing today to help you both sleep better. If sleep has become a foreign concept for your family, a fairytale of a life you once used to live, these are the tips for you.
- Create the Perfect Ambiance
There are people out there who can pass out regardless of noise and brightness, but they’re the minority. We’re not quite sure how you do it, but we applaud you. For the rest of us, we need a dark room, a comfortable temperature and some peace and quiet. Your baby likely needs this too. For naps and nights, be sure to set the mood.
Try black out window shades, aromatherapy, and a cool temperature to help them on their way to dreamland. To mask noise, use a sound machine (bonus points if you can control it via your phone!). Brown noise has shown to be most effective for pediatric sleep, but try a variety of sounds to see what works best for your family.
- Create a Soothing Night Time Routine
Whether it’s bath time, nursery rhymes, sweet lullabies or a nightly reenactment of the Scandal scene where Eli and Quinn belt “Baby One More Time,” routine is key when putting your little one to sleep. Keep the same routine regardless of who is on bedtime duty, and if you have multiple children, get them all on the same page with the routine. A comforting bedtime routine that follows a predictable pattern every night helps give your baby a heads up that it’s time to put their head down.
- Familiarity and Associations
Having your baby fall asleep with or surrounded by what they will wake up to will help your baby better fall back asleep. This practice, known as sleep association, focuses on creating a familiar cue to tell your baby it’s time for sleep. If they wake up in the night, they’ll hear or have the sleep association, so they know it’s ok to go back to sleep independently (even if you’re not home).
To implement this, think about elements that are already in your child’s life. It could be a binkie, a soft lovie, or a familiar sound. As long as it is something your baby can implement without your help, you are giving them a very useful self-soothing tool. Be sure to avoid sleep crutches like rocking, singing, nursing, patting, as these are things your baby cannot recreate without your help.
- Timing is Everything
Whether it is making sure you leave enough time to get your little one to soccer practice, making time to help them with their volcano science project, or remembering what time Paw Patrol comes on so you don’t relive a terrible tantrum, timing is key. Sleep is no exception! The moment your little one starts to get drowsy it is time to move into bedtime mode. This doesn’t mean skipping the associations or the routine. Rather, it might mean moving them forward a bit. The goal is for your baby to be drowsy but not conked out by the time they hit their bed.
Of all the tips, this one can be the biggest challenge at first, especially if you’re on the road. However, if you implement all of these strategies, the transition period will be brief, and the result will be more restful sleep for you both.
Of course, this isn’t a full proof plan because every baby is unique and every family has different parenting ideals. However, we’ve seen countless families see success with these hacks. Give them a try and let us know what you think! Those continuing to feel overwhelmed or who want personalized support can always rely on one of our favorite sleep consultants—check out our list here.
Remember the sleepless nights won’t last forever, and while you might feel frustrated in the moment, as a parenting community we are in this together. Breathe, and don’t be too hard on yourself. It won’t always be easy but it will be worth it.