5 Tips to Help Newborn Babies to Sleep
Picture the scene: pregnancy is over, your beautiful baby has arrived and you spend hours gazing into their chubby-cheeked face as they peacefully sleep like, well, a baby. Ah, bliss!
Was that the case for you? Let me tell you, it certainly wasn’t for me.
I had fantasised for 9 months about that very scene and I was just a little disappointed to learn that my baby not only hated to sleep at night time, but wasn’t much of a fan of the daytime nap either.
I was exhausted.
She was exhausted.
We were all exhausted.
It felt like the only time she would sleep really peacefully was during a very long and very bumpy car ride. And that was after a good old vocal protest for half an hour at being put in the car seat first. That’s another story!
At night time she woke frequently and we fed her and rocked her back to sleep only for her to wake up again the second her head hit the cot.
Many hours were spent googling for the answer. Many friends were consulted. Many baby sleep books were invested in. We tried many things.
We did pick up some great tips though and I couldn’t say for sure whether it was one of these things, a crazy combination of them all or just good luck but at 10 weeks old, my baby slept through the night.
I’m not talking about a 5 hour stretch. I’m talking Through. The. Night. From 7pm to 7am. Without waking up! It was a miracle.
Of course that first night we had a terrible night’s sleep and woke up convinced something awful might have happened! I remember the trepidation of my husband and I walking to her cot, expecting the worst, just to see her sleeping peacefully.
Here are the techniques we tried that seemed to work and now we’ve added another baby to the mix, worked for him too.
If you’re a parent struggling to get your baby to sleep, I really hope that these might help you and I think they’re probably worth a go:
1. Stick to a Routine
This doesn’t have to be a rigid Tizzy Hall-style routine but put together a basic day plan/structure that works for you. We factored the basics into ours – when to slot in feeds, playtime and when to put down for naps and sleep.
This is probably so obvious to some but I was a brand new mum and clueless about when I should be doing what and this really helped me. I fed my babies on demand of course.
Once you have your routine, stick to it and be consistent. Just like their mum, my babies love consistency and knowing what is coming next. Very quickly they started recognising that if they were being swaddled, that meant it was time for a sleep and they would start to yawn.
2. Double Swaddling
This might be my favourite tip – double swaddling is wrapping up the baby veeeeery snuggly, a bit like a burrito.
We used a large muslin cloth for the first swaddle and then a SwaddleMe over the top. Swaddle blankets keep the baby really snug around their arms and top half but leave their hips and legs free to kick around.
A single blanket swaddle wasn’t enough for my Houdini babies and they would escape very quickly and wake up. Check out YouTube for video tutorials on how to double swaddle. You won’t regret it!
Swaddling is not suitable for babies who can roll over though.
3. White Noise
I’d been told early on by a midwife told me never to tip toe around a baby. Apparently when they’re in the womb they are used to a lot of the mum’s internal noises and they’re as loud as a vacuum cleaner!
So I downloaded a free white noise app on my smartphone (there are loads) and turned this on at night as I was laying her down to sleep. We even left this on all night next to the cot so when she woke up it seemed to lull her back to sleep.
It was a bit weird for us to get used to at first as we were in the same room but we quickly adapted to it too and I almost depended on it for my own sleep!
Again, for consistency, we used the app for naptime too in the car and out and about in the stroller. That made for some interesting looks in the street from passers-by!
4. Comforting Smells
I baby wore a lot with my first baby particularly and a friend recommended that because she was used to being on me most of the day, she probably found my ‘smell’ comforting and at night in her cot she might have missed this.
Try lying one of your tops on their cot with them lying on top so they can smell you – it’s worth a go!
5. Blackout Blinds
If you already have black out blinds or curtains in your nursery, that’s great! Otherwise, you might want to try adding a travel blackout blind to see if having a very dark room helps the baby recognise that it’s night time and they should be asleep.
I found that if the room was light, it was so hard to get my babies to sleep and if they woke up to a light room, sleep time was definitely over.
At night time when your baby wakes up, try to keep the room as dark as possible because turning on a big light will wake them up fully. This can be difficult for changing nappies but I was told by many midwives to restrict nappy changes during the night to only ones that really really need to be done.
It took less than 2 weeks of doing the above to work for us but we were committed to it and so grateful to finally have some sleep. We were convinced it was a fluke for a long time but it wasn’t.
As I said, there is always the possibility that she might have just been ‘ready’ to sleep and would have without any of the techniques we tried. We will never know and I was so grateful that something seemed to work that I didn’t question it!
Have any of these techniques worked for you? Do you have any other tips that might help other new parents?
Please share if so. Parenting is a tough gig without a real rule book. Let’s help each other out.