Be mindful of the arc of activity and stimulation from day to night.
The closer you get to bedtime, the more peaceful, calm and quiet you should be with your baby.
A peaceful transition can set you baby up for a wonderfully, restful night.
It’s up to you to help protect your baby from too much – too loud – too busy during the day. Your baby can’t tell you what a difference it makes – but they can show you with better sleep at night and a happier disposition during the day.
Wrap, Sling, and Carry:
We found that carrying our baby around in a wrap for periods during the day – helped them sleep better at night.
Here are key features to look for in a wrap:
- A light pad in the shoulder fabric (more comfortable for your shoulder).
- Unpadded side rails make a sling easier to adjust and work well to discreetly nurse your baby.
- Breathable natural fabric.
- Try to get a sling/wrap that is fully adjustable and machine washable (for all the spit up coming your way). 😉
- Some slings/wraps have built in pockets for diapers, wipes, keys, mobile phone, etc. that are quite helpful.
I’ve used several different carriers/slings/wraps with my two kids – but the one I liked the best was the Maya Wrap Baby Ring Sling Carrier. Our baby could recline in it horizontally or slightly upright – and snuggle gently next to my body.
It’s flexible because you can adjust your baby in the sling in different positions for different times of the day and to suit their liking. Most non-sling carriers only allow your baby to be upright. We really liked being able to fine tune our baby’s position depending on if they were sleeping or awake. The Maya Wrap lets you carry your baby upright as well. Here are reviews.
My second favorite was the Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier.
It was comfortable but wasn’t as versatile as a wrap/sling. I found myself using the Maya Wrap around the house and the Baby Bjorn when I went for walks outside.
If you’re handy you can make your own baby sling with this free pattern and instructions from Mamma’s Milk. I didn’t have the sewing skills to try this one but it could be a way to save some money depending on which fabric you buy for it.
Skip burping before bed?
I’ve read some suggestions to skip burping to shorten the bedtime routine and give you a little more time for yourself.
I say no way. Gentle burping was part of my routine for both of my kids as I walked around the room holding them and softly singing to them right before putting them down.
It acted as a physical, comforting, metronome that helped them drift off to the rhythmic pats.
It was less about burping (although that was very helpful when they had to burp) and more about the soft rhythm of my touch.
Tips that can help your baby drift toward sleep and rest more deeply…
- Use light-blocking shades or curtains make their room dark. You can better control how much sleep they get as the seasons change, and it stays lighter later at night or gets lighter earlier in the morning.
- Nursing your baby in a dimly lit room, lying down, next to your warm body, calms a baby in preparation for sleep.
- Hold your baby in your arms in a rocking chair, or walk around their room while holding them in your arms.
- Nestle your baby’s head against the front of your neck. Place your cheek or chin gently beside the top of your baby’s head. Rock your baby and hum or sing softly.
- Swaddle your baby at night. As newborns, many babies like to be securely swaddled in a cotton baby blanket. As they grow older – babies may like to sleep in longer stretches with loose coverings that allow them more freedom of movement. If your baby is dressed more loosely during the day, they may begin to associate nighttime swaddling with sleep. If your baby gets too hot or too cold, they may wake more. The back of the neck is a good place to touch to check your baby’s temperature.
- If your baby has allergies, they will most likely sleep more soundly in 100 percent cotton sleepwear. Some babies are irritated by, sensitive to and/or allergic to synthetic fabrics like polyester. Detergents with dyes and perfumes and fabric softeners and dryer sheets can not only irritate your baby – but be harmful to them. You’ll hear some people say, “Ah it’s not going to kill them.” or “If it wasn’t safe the government wouldn’t allow it to be sold.” Unfortunately, the toxins in these products build up gradually in our bodies over time and can cause problems later in life. It often takes years to see the harmful effects, and therefore the dangers are often dismissed until enough time has passed and damage has been done. For example, toxic substances like asbestos and others that were once considered safe, are now banned. All these “drop in the bucket” toxins that are a part of our daily lives add up over time and eventually overload our systems.
- Making loving deep eye contact with your baby during the day can help with brain development and help you bond with your baby. Avoid it, however, in the middle of the night when you are trying to help them back to sleep. Parental eye contact can raise a baby’s heart rate, blood pressure and excite your baby to be more awake.
- Your baby’s stomach is a little bigger than the size of their fist. That’s why they feed on average every 3 to 4 hours at night and even more than that during the day. Feeding them right before bed can help them sleep more soundly for that first few hours.
- For daytime naps, carry your baby in a sling/wrap during the day. When your baby falls asleep in the wrap, carefully lie down on your back with them and take a cozy nap together – their belly resting peacefully on your chest.
- Change wet or soiled diapers right before a bedtime feeding. This way your baby will be all set if they fall asleep during the feeding and go straight to bed. If, however, your baby consistently has a bowel movement during or right after a feeding, then you’ll want to change them after the feeding, so you’re not changing twice in a row.
- I have read feedback from some parents who have helped their baby sleep in longer stretches by decreasing the time between their baby’s feedings starting in the early evening. So if they usually would feed every 3 hours the parent would feed every 2 hours during the time right before bed which gave their baby a full stomach and resulted in sleeping four to five hour stretches at a time during the night.
Tips to try when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night…
- A supportive laying on of your hands on your baby may be enough to comfort them back to sleep without having to pick them up which could initially wake them more and take much longer for baby and parent to get back to sleep.
- Other variations to try are rubbing in a gentle circle on your baby’s back or chest, patting so gently their back or bottom in a consistent rhythm like a heartbeat. When it time to take your hands away do it extremely slowly, gradually releasing the pressure of your touch on them so you don’t startle them awake.
- Taking slow deep breaths with your baby in the middle of the night can help soothe and calm them and help them back to sleep. This works great as they grow older also. This is one of my favorite sleep tips.