Category: Sleep Help

5 Tips to Help Your Newborn Sleep Longer

5 Tips to Help Your Newborn Sleep Longer
Being a brand new parent of a brand new baby who had trouble sleeping longer than an hour at a time I utilized every resource I could find to help me. I met with professional sleep consultants, read popular books about parenting newborns, called the fussy baby network, and of course – scoured online forums for anyone suffering from the same lack of sleep with a trick or idea I hadn’t tried yet.

Here’s what I was dealing with:

  • Baby would only fall asleep in my arms
  • Baby would wake up when I tried to put her down
  • Baby would only stay asleep for an hour at a time
  • When she would wake in the night, she would want to stay awake instead of going back to sleep

I discovered that a tip from here and an idea from there brought impressive results.

1. Fill That Belly

Think of the time when you are most interested in having a good long sleep. Most likely that time involves having a nice, satisfying meal right beforehand. To create a state of contentment, and to keep it that way for a few hours, make sure your little one has a nice full belly before trying to send them off to dreamland.

2. Pre-Flight Sleep Checklist

To sleep for a longer stretch of time ensure all of the following are taken care of after a nice, full feed:

  • Burped to prevent mid-sleep gas pains
  • Gas drops if needed
  • A fresh diaper
  • Adequately dressed – being too hot or too cold can cause wake-ups

3. Set the Sleep Cues Part I:
Emulate the Comfort of the Womb

Setting up specific bedtime or naptime cues lets your baby know: “Oh, it’s time for me to have a nice, big sleep.”

The simple comfort cues that worked the best for me are:

  • A tight swaddle
  • Rocking motion
  • Pacifier

A lot of newborns feel most contented in a cozy setting that resembles the womb. A tight swaddle and heavy bouncing may seem uncomfortable to adults, but babies are used to being compressed into a little ball and jiggled constantly. Perhaps you remember your baby being the most bouncy when you were trying to sleep at night? Stillness makes babies unsettled!

4. Set the Sleep Cues Part II:
Emulate the Sounds of the Womb

Along with a snug squeeze, the womb was loud – as loud as a vacuum cleaner – with the sounds of mom’s heartbeat, lungs, and belly growls. After your baby is gently jiggling in a snug swaddle give her some familiar, pacifying background noise.

The sounds that worked for me are:

  • Fan or white noise machine
  • A special sleep-time song

After putting the noise machine on the loudest setting, I wrapped everything up with a special song just for sleep time. It was usually something I just made up on the fly with a soothing rhythm. Give it a try – it may only take a few times for your baby to recognize their special sleep song with heavy eyes when you start singing.

5. And Then You Wake Your Baby Up…

Yes, I know this sounds crazy. When I heard this I thought to myself, “I am trying to get this child to SLEEP! How is waking her a good idea??” However, when you think about it, this is the perfect time to get your baby to learn how to fall asleep on their own– baby is full of milk, swaddled, comforted, and heavy with sleep. The best method (tried and true by me, I swear!) is to gently wake up your baby before putting them down in their sleep area.

The Reasoning: It’s easy for your baby to fall asleep in your arms – being gently rocked against a warm body – the soothing sound of a heartbeat – what’s not to love? It’s tempting to just let the little nugget remain peacefully asleep on your chest. Just keep in mind if this is the only way you let your baby fall asleep, this could cause a dependency on mom or dad to get them back asleep during wake-ups caused by noises or mild hunger.

Yes, at first this could take a few tries. I remember having to pick my baby up and soothe her back to a calm state at least five times before she fell asleep on her own. But she learned – and now I can lay her down in her bassinet after two rounds of the special sleep song when her eyes are heavy and starting to close and she falls asleep. On her own. Just like magic.

6. Bonus Tip: Rock n’ Play Your Way to Victory

Putting a baby down on a still surface can wake them right up. I struggled with this for weeks – I tried everything and nothing seemed to work. Every sleeping setup I tried was so different from rocking in the warmth of moms arms.

That is until I was told about the Fisher Price Rock n’ Play by my lactation consultant.

At first I was skeptical. Another baby contraption I had no interest in buying let alone cluttering up my already small city apartment. It sat in the box for a few days and then after I put it together I was reluctant to try it. But let me tell you – IT CHANGED MY LIFE.

After my baby was fed, burped, changed, and rocked to sleep in my arms, the easiest transition was laying her down in the Rock n’ Play and gently rocking her back to sleep. So easy, so light – it works like magic.

Learn How Using the Rock n’ Play Can Help Parents Get More Sleep, Too!

Roxann Blue
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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MinimaLIST: 10 Newborn Items I Couldn’t Survive Without

Smiling baby boyI am a devoted minimalist. While pregnant I refused a lot of different items because they seemed like gimmicks that would clutter my tiny apartment.

However, after having a baby and actually dealing with the daily habits of taking care of her, I found there are 10 things I absolutely couldn’t live without:

1. Pacifier

As I sat in the hospital with a fussy, fed baby that still could suck the paint off the walls, the nurses suggested a pacifier. The sudden shift from screaming to silence was all I needed to continue implementing this little piece of rubber magic.

Recommended Brand: Avento Soothie $3
Why: The shape of the Soothie most simulates that of a breast – with a wide base and cylindrical shape – reducing the chance of nipple confusion.
Buy the Avento Soothie on Amazon.com

2. Swaddle

When babies cry, their arms flail – and a lot of times this causes even more crying! Babies love to feel like they are back in the womb – a room with a snug fit – keeping their little arms safely tucked in. Ahh… so soothing! A “must” for helping little ones get to sleep.

Recommended Brand: Swaddle Me $15

Why: The lightweight, stretchable fabric makes it perfect for enveloping baby tight in any climate. The bottom velcro closure allows for easy diaper checking without an entire unwrapping.
Buy the Swaddle on Amazon

3. Baby Sling

Babies want to be held. Period. And in an idea world, we would all sit around for the first three months with our sweet, content babies and nothing else in the world to do. Back in reality we often need to keep moving with one – and sometimes even two! – hands free. I don’t know how people even manage to raise babies without using a wrap.

Recommended Brand: Baby K’tan $50
Why: This wrap is super easy to put on, looks stylish, requires NO tying of knots, and doesn’t end up with long pieces of fabric hanging over your legs. Yay!
Buy the K’tan Sling on Amazon

4. Rocking Chair

True Story: I didn’t have a rocking chair for the first eight weeks of my baby’s life. I found myself pacing the floor of my 600 square foot apartment every night at 3 am trying to get her back to sleep before I thought “Hmm… perhaps I should try a rocking chair.” And yes, it changed my life. Or should I say, it changed my nights. So much better!

Reccomended Brand: A big, fat Lay-z-Boy. $350
Why: These things rock without giving you motion sickness (I’m looking at you, Glider) and when the little nugget finally falls asleep, you can just recline that bad boy and doze off with her.
Buy the Lay-Z-Boy on Amazon

5. White Noise Machine

Emulating the sounds of the womb is key. Unlike adults – a quiet room makes babies unsettled. Recall how small babies can sleep during a loud movie or room full of people – the noise comforts them. The same happens when it’s time to sleep – a soothing noise similar to that of the womb (which can be as loud of a vacuum cleaner!) helps baby relax and drift off to dreamland.

Recommended Item: High-Quality Room Fan $50
Why: Digital white noise and sound machines made for babies can have a tin can sound to them and you can often audibly hear the “loop” nosie. In addition, these are assaultive to adult ears – and once baby is done with them – that’s $30 – $50 you’ll never see again. Instead, we like the idea of purchasing a nice quality room fan instead. Not only will this fan drown out the outside noises that could wake your baby, but it also circulates the air in her room, leaving things feeling a bit “fresher” than before. It’s a Win/Win!
Buy a Vornado fan on Amazon

6. Breast Pump

Weather your trying to increase your supply or save up a supply of milk for the future, a breast pump is essential. Women with low milk supply should pump after each feeding for 10 minutes on each side to stimulate milk production. Women with a normal/ high supply can pump after each feeding to store milk for future use.

Recommended Brand: Medela Symphony $1,500
Why: This pump is smooooth. Other pumps can suck so hard on the nipple that by the end of the pumping session it’s bright purple and bruised. The Medela cruises along, getting the most milk without giving you additional nipple trauma. And who needs more of that?!
Buy the Medela Symphony on Amazon

7. Vibrating Seat

Okay, to be fair, it took my baby until she was 8 weeks old to sit in the seat and another 2 weeks to enjoy it. It takes some getting used to and I recommended putting the baby in it for just 5-10 minutes at a time in the beginning. Now she LOVES the seat and the lightweight version allows me to move it all around the house without any problem. I put it in front of the shower, on the kitchen table, in the laundry room – anywhere I am.

Recommended Brand: Fisher Price Soothing Vibrations $35
Why: Unlike the pricey, bulky competitors, this chair is lightweight and easy to move. It also have a vibration mode that is just right and not too intense.
Buy the Fisher Price Soothing Vibrations on Amazon

8. Car Mirror

What is your baby doing while facing backwards in a car seat an arm’s length away from you? You wouldn’t know unless you were willing to pull the car over and look or risk getting into a collision trying to crane your head back to find out. These handy devices require only a glance in your rearview mirror to see if your little nugget is content, sleeping, or unhappy.

Recommended Brand: Diono Mirror $8
Why: The simple installation and extra large size of the mirror make it super easy to use.
Buy the Diono Car Mirror on Amazon

9. Portable Noise Machine

Okay, yes, this is another one of those baby gimmicks I swore I wouldn’t use. But let me tell you, it made such a difference with car rides and airplane trips. The soothing sounds help baby relax and feel secure while drowining out all the junk noise in the background.

Recommended Brand: Sleep Sheep On-the-Go $25
Why: First of all, it’s so cute! Second, my baby LOVES the babbling brook setting. Third, the handy velcro loop on the back makes it easy to attach to a car seat, stroller bar, or carry-on bag for no-worry transport.
Buy the Sleep Sheep on Amazon

10. Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play $80

The mack daddy of baby sleeping accommodations. I tell you, my life changed when I bought a Rock n Play and began using it for bedtime. It was recommended to me (by name brand) by my lactation consultant to deal with my daughter’s maddening acid reflux (it sits at a slight angle), but I found it’s highlights went beyond spit-up.
Buy the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play on Amazon

Click here to read the full article on why the Fisher Price Rock n Play is amazing.

Roxann Blue
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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The Amazing Rock ‘n Play*

Get Better Sleep with a New Infant
Find the Rock n’ Play on Amazon.com

 

Acid Reflux Reducer

Dealing with a baby that suffers from serious acid reflux, I found I couldn’t just lay her on her back or I would be faced with a giant projectile spit-up. Yet the bed with a pillow, or Boppy-propping alternatives, all had their own downfalls as well.

I found when I propped up my baby girl on a pillow on the bed she would sometimes “roll down” the pillow – leaving her face down or in an awkward position – thus risking her safety or waking her up. No good either way. The Boppy worked great – for short periods – and is not actually recommended for sleeping at all.

Per the Fisher Price website, the Rock ‘n Play is great for babies to snooze in. Mesh sides and a belt keep the baby from falling out. Finally, it has the gentle incline from toe to head, resulting in significantly less spit-up.

A Great Alternative to Co-Sleeping

Let me preface by saying I really loved the idea of having my little nugget cozied up next to me in bed – content to sleep with mom. However, I found co-sleeping to be a bit of a nightmare. Yes, for naps and short periods, I still love it. But for those long stretches at night where I am hoping for 4-5 hours of solid, heavy sleep? Not so great. The reason being, I was always so worried about smothering my baby, or her rolling onto her face and smothering herself, that I found I didn’t sleep well at all. I woke up every 20 minutes to check her breathing situation. It wasn’t until I found her swaddled, face down in a pillow that I sadly decided co-sleeping with my newborn wasn’t going to work for me.

The Rock ‘n Play offers a close-to-the-bed, rock-able, lightweight alternative to co-sleeping. Baby is right there, can see your face AND can be gently swayed to sleep. Perfect!

Helps Parents Get More Sleep Too

After nighttime feeding and diaper change, parents are already half awake. Add in having to rock or soothe a baby back to sleep and you could be wide-eyed for the next 30 minutes. The Rock ‘n Play is great in that regard. After feeding, diapering re-swaddling, simply lay the baby back in the Rock ‘n Play right next to your bed. Then lie down next to him, with your head on the bed right in line with his. Use your arm to gently rock the baby to sleep. You’ll find it’s so soothing that you’re falling asleep, right in your bed, along with him. Funny sidenote: I’ve fallen asleep BEFORE my baby doing this. Then I wake up to find her staring at me with wide eyes as if to say “Where did you go? I’m still awake here….”

Buy the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play on Amazon

I will tell you that my baby did not love her Rock ‘n Play at first. It took a few times to get her settled and into a rhythm with it. If you’re willing to try something new, give it a few nights for your baby to get used to it.

Good Luck!

Roxann Blue
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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*DISCLAIMER* This is not an Advertisement, but an enthusiastic mom whose life got so much better when she started using the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play.