After several months of pregnancy and long hours of labour to bring my baby into this world, I thought I was finally done with all troubles and my life will soon go back to normal. But what did I know? Haha
The first few days, I actually wanted to be awake and watch my baby sleep, or even wake her up to feed her and play with her (someone should have told me) but I still made up for all that sleep during the day. Then eventually, I was ready to go back to my normal life. And I started following my regular daily routine – wake up in the morning, clean the house, do laundry, cook, eat, nap in the midday, etc. But guess what! My baby’s sleep pattern disrupted my entire routine.
She fed and slept throughout the day and then stayed awake for the rest of the night to feed and play, and cried whenever I left her alone to go back to sleep. So, the fact that I was always awake for the majority of the night crushed my productivity and I started to sleep a lot during the day and couldn’t get anything done.
After finding out that I have a major problem, I decided to seek help from my friends and family, and I also did some research. Here are the tips that worked best for me to eventually have my baby sleep during the night and only wake up twice or thrice to feed. The earlier you start implementing these tips, the better.
1. Distinguish between day and night.
My house had black curtains because I liked it dark inside. So, unless I turned on the light, or raised the curtains, it was usually night dark. I lived alone with my husband who was out of the house majority of the time, so not many activities go on during the day. And I liked to turn off the light during the day to enable baby sleep longer. But these were all bad practices as they made it harder for her to distinguish between day and night.
So, in order to help her sleep better at night, I kept the lights on and curtains raised during the day. I received calls in her presence, talked to her, sang around the house, watched videos etc. I also took her out of the house on a walk in the mornings or evenings. So she became more alert and aware of the day. At night, I made sure to keep everything quiet and dark. No talking during feeding time. As soon as I was done, I simply placed her on her bed and went back to sleep.
2. Don’t let your baby fall asleep during a feeding session
Another mistake I made was always letting her sleep each time I breastfed her. This made her associate breastfeeding as a sleeping cue. So if she wants to sleep, she would cry and demand breast, and feed until she fell asleep.
Also, she would wake up on the bed without realising how she got there. Feed her when she’s hungry and stop when she’s drowsy. Place her on her bed and pat her to sleep. Let her associate that staying on her bed or in her crib to sleep time. This will help later at night to fall asleep once she’s placed on her bed.
3. Follow a consistent night-time routine
Try to establish a night-time routine and stick to it. A slight change in the routine can put the baby off. What I did was feed her at night, gave her a warm bath, changed her into her nightdress and rock her to sleep, in that order. It took a few before this worked, but it eventually did.
4. Allow your baby to self-soothe
After your baby has had enough milk, place them on their crib or bassinet and leave them alone. You might find it distressing to hear your little one cry and be tempted to attend to them and soothe them, but allow them to learn how to self-soothe. It only takes about a week or two for most babies to learn to soothe themselves.
You might, however, what to check them after 15-20 minutes to make sure they are okay and not crying over something else, such as a soiled diaper or insect bite. Once you’ve established that, leave them alone again and they will fall asleep on their own.
5. Use White Noise
On many days, my husband and I were not ready to sleep after our baby is asleep for the day. We stayed up to catch up, clean the house or even watch a show. These could get noisy and wake the baby. Once she wakes up, it’s usually very hard to get her to sleep again
If you find yourself in a situation like that, white noise is the way to go. Play white noise to the baby. This sort of cancels other noises around. Apart from that, it soothes the baby because it’s similar to what they hear when in the womb.
6. Allow adequate naps during the day
As an adult, when you sleep during the day, you tend to find it hard to sleep early at night. This is not the same for babies. Denying them daily naps would make them too tired and when they are tired, they don’t sleep well through the night. So allow them to nap well during the day and this would help them sleep better at night.
Swaddling the baby recreates the womb environment – warm and snuggly. This feeling is familiar to your baby and would keep them asleep for a long time. Also, a baby’s startle or Moro reflex is another reason they wake up from sleep. It occurs because they are not used to the huge space around them, and they startle because they feel like they are falling. When you swaddle them, you get rid of the abundant space and they won’t startle, hence, sleep for longer.
What helped your baby sleep at night in their early days? Please let me know in the comment section.