Who’s tired? ME! Anyone else? And I don’t even have a newborn waking me up throughout the night right now! When I begin to feel this way, I definitely pull back, re-access everything that is going on in my life and try to make adjustments. TRY…is the keyword here. As most moms know – making adjustments for ourselves for a little self-care is so hard to do! I get asked a lot for sleep help, so today’s blog is all about basic sleep training, or as I like to call it – sleep assistance. (I just hate the word “training”)
Nutrition Quick Tips
Make sure you are taking a good quality B-Complex to help with fatigue and load up on energy boosting foods such as apples (I eat these daily!), acai berries and a handful of nuts to give you a lift – just to name a few.
In this blog, I want to focus a bit on my new mamas on here. Being up all night is something that NO pregnancy book can really prepare you for, until you are in the throes of it. We love our babies, but damn is it hard!
3 Basic Sleep Tips
One of the very first avenues that I ventured in when I first became a doula and newborn care expert – was being a sleep specialist! I had training through my certifications on learning all things sleep and became certified as a sleep trainer. However, being called a “sleep trainer” never resonated with me.
After years of consulting parents on sleep and having babies of my own, I concluded there is NOT a one size fits all for every baby when it comes to sleep, and training is not always necessary. After completing a two-year certification through the Association of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology as a Birth Psychology Specialist – I learned so much more about the different approaches to sleep for both a new mom and the baby from an emotional, psychological and spiritual level. Therefore, I like to assist parents on setting up their babies for sleep success – not train. My sleep coaching is on pause at the moment, but I decided to share 3 tips below to guide you in the right direction with sleep and understanding it for a baby.
Let’s recap – sleep is a difficult area for a new mom, every baby is different, and it is a necessity.
1- Sleep Cycles/Circadian Rhythms
Understand that a baby’s sleep cycle and circadian rhythms are not the same as yours. Looking out for “sleepy signs” is important. Sleepy signs vary but common ones are:
- Fluttering eyelids or difficulty focusing – your baby might even go cross-eyed or seem to be staring into space.
- Making jerky arm and leg movements, or arching backwards,
- Frowning or looking worried.
- Closed fists or clenched body
Once they cry from fatigue – they are pushed too far and getting them to sleep may require some more work. So, keep any eye out for these signs and helping them to sleep when you see one, will make it a lot easier! How will you know when to start looking out for them? Well, a newborn is pretty much asleep most of the time – but once they begin to wake up a bit more, around 6 – 8 weeks – below is a standard sleep cycle for an infant to follow:
Make sure to click the link above on circadian rhythms! Once I got a real understanding of how the baby’s body cycles with sleep – then it made sense why my girls went to bed around 6:30/7:00 pm and sleep a lot better versus if I got them to bed later.
2- Sound Machines
There is some debate on sound machines, so I always recommend doing your own research – but after I did mine, sound machines became a beautiful help with many parents I have coached on sleep. Why do they help?
Babies love white noise! Take a moment and look at it from baby’s perspective. They’ve just spent their entire life in the womb – where it is loud (contrary to what most might think). Some experts even describe it to be slightly less loud than hearing a lawn mower outside your window! Loud is normal to a baby and life outside the womb is uncomfortably quiet. White noise sounds like “home” to a baby and can help them to cycle through their wake ups easier. Let me highlight the reasons it helps:
- Reduces stress by blocking out stimulation. Babies get stressed? YES! Life outside the cozy womb is so new and stimulating that it can easily stress them out at times.
- Helps them to sleep longer by not waking up completely during their arousals in a cycle. Take THAT 20-minute naps!
- Helps the crying spells. What do ALL adults do with a crying baby? Rock and “shush” right? How tiring that can be! I always tell my parents if they are crying loudly and you have literally done EVERYTHING (on repeat) for hours – then they are overtired and need to cry to release the excess cortisol. This doesn’t mean to let them “cry it out” and walk out of the nursery. You can have them cry in arms – but without the constant shushing (I swear I almost passed out once from doing it so long!) Use the white noise machine! Sit in your rocker with it very close and on loudest setting and let it do the “shushing” as you rock the baby until they get it all out. I know it is hard to sit when they cry – moving is a natural reaction to help them calm but this can SOMETIMES overstimulate them some more!
And mamas – they are not addictive. Around age one or after they have mastered sleeping all night – gradually test it out and set on the lowest setting to wean them off. Some parents use until age three – so it is entirely up to the parent when they want to wean.
3- Blackout Shades
- Darken that room! Helping a baby to adjust to outside the womb with the sun and moon can take some work. Keep note: newborns feed round the clock and so to them, they don’t care if it is night or day, they will let you know when they need food! And that is okay! However, as they grow a little more and their feeding start to stretch out a little, it is helpful while you are home to allow them to sleep in their nursery or your room (for my bed-sharing mamas) with it darkened. It will do wonders!
- It helps them to relax into sleep for daytime naps – especially after they become more social around 6 weeks.
- Keeps objects around them from distracting them – some babies are just that perceptive!
- Cues the brain that it’s time to rest!
You can use black out panels or put these over the curtain you already have or blinds.
Anything else that I can share? Crib or bassinet recommendations? Yes!
I am a BIG fan of the Stokke Sleepi Mini crib that grows with your baby. I bought this for Layla when I was pregnant with her (crib in picture) and it has been wonderful! Stokke Sleepi Mini is the perfect first bed for your baby. Its distinctive oval shape provides your baby with a sense of security by creating a cozy nest-like environment. You can add extensions as the baby grows to make a full-size crib, a toddler bed and even a junior bed!
The Halo Bassinet Swivel Sleeper was a VERY useful bassinet that we used when Layla was sleeping in our room, especially as a C-section mama! The eye-level design made it very easy for me to see her at night, it tucked nicely under our bed, so it was super close and made nigh feeding so much better and the walls lowered down when I reached for her. It was all just so convenient! Shop Below