7 tips for helping your new baby sleep safely and soundly
One of the hardest parts of being a new parent is figuring out the whole sleep situation—how long does baby need to snooze? What position is best? Is pin drop silence really helping? And can mommy or daddy catch some Z’s, too please?
We turned to nationally renowned pediatrician and child development specialist Dr. Harvey Karp’s literature on these questions and more, to bring you these top tips for making sure baby (and you) are well-rested.
1. Turn Up the (White) Noise
Counter to popular belief, babies sleep better with noise. It makes sense, after all—spending nine months in a noisy womb will make you accustomed to a little bit of rumble and swishing.
We’re all creatures of habit, and new babies aren’t any different. According to Dr. Karp, newborns need 14 to 18 hours of sleep. For his full first year sleep schedule, click here.
3. Cue “Sleep”
Having familiar, soothing sleep cues helps everyone sleep better. Like a cup of hot herbal tea, rocking baby to sleep (for example) signals that it’s time to relax and drift off into Slumberland. How can you tell the difference between a good and bad sleep cue? Dr. Karp says it’s easy peasy—basically, only use a sleep cue that’s easy to use and wean. Just make sure that when you put baby back in the bassinet or crib after falling asleep, you wake her up again. Confused? See #7 for more on that.
4. Naps on Naps
Dr. Karp writes, "Keeping a tired baby awake usually boomerangs…leaving him miserable, overtired and fighting sleep! On the other hand, babies given lots of sleep throughout the day are more resilient and balanced. They fall asleep faster and easier, as long as they’re put to bed before they get bleary eyed and exhausted." Sounds good to us!
When it's done right, swaddling not only calms and soothes baby, but encourages back sleeping-- which decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Note sure how? The Mayo Clinic has a great step-by-step slideshow.
The action of sucking can help relax baby and get her into sleeping mode. Try giving either a breast or pacifier for the effect.
7. Self-Soothing and the Classic “Wake-and-Sleep”
The “wake-and-sleep” technique is when you get baby to sleep, and then wake her up again for a few seconds (like with a tickle) as you put her back in her bassinet. Don’t worry, she’ll close her eyes again shortly afterwards and drift back into slumber. This will help baby develop the ability to drift back into sleep on her own, when inevitably she rouses in the middle of the night because of a noise or hiccup.
Have your own pro sleep tip you’d like to share? Leave us a comment below! Happy Snoozing!
Happiest Baby: https://happiestbaby.com/sleep/
Parents Magazine: http://www.parents.com/baby/sleep/tips/