Baby sleep: carriers
Baby sleep challenge: they sleep great in our arms but our arms get tired.
Solution: Find a baby carrier that is comfortable and use it for daytime naps. This is key. And can make a world of difference. This is especially helpful with short nappers and sensitive sleepers.
You aren’t going to wear your baby constantly and sometimes you’ll have them nap on you when you are relaxed and not up and about and therefore you will just hold them.
But for babies that are hard to soothe or easily startled or super 4th trimester babes: baby wearing is everything.
You’ll get baby sleeping better for naps and that will eventually translate to better night-time sleeping.
It also has the added bonus of keeping baby close so you can respond to early feeding cues.
It can be tricky finding a carrier that works for you and baby, here is an Omaha based resource to help you on this journey: Nebraska Babywearing Alliance
Baby sleep: swaddling
This one gets a bad rap sometimes. And it isn’t the solution for everything. But it really will help with sleep. Combined with pacifier use and putting baby on separate sleep surface, it is a very safe sleep practice. It is not safe when combined with bed sharing.
Here is a fabulous doula (and one of my trainers), Kimberly Bepler showing 7 different swaddles.
Caveats include making sure you aren’t overusing it in the early weeks to delay feedings as regular and frequent milk removal is key to establishing a solid milk supply for baby.
Additional caveat includes phasing it out when baby is rolling over and making sure baby gets plenty of time unswaddled to work on gross motor development.
Learn your baby's sleepy cues
This is harder to teach although here is a link to a short video describing infant sleep states.
But this is really helpful when attempting to put baby down for naps or at bedtime. Catching sleepy cues is also key and watching for over stimulation is very helpful.
Infants actually transition through arousal states multiple times during one nap. Some infants can do this transition with minimal help (but often including squawks or even crying). While others benefit from some gentle soothing between deep and light sleep.
Often when working with families of infants I am told, “he just doesn’t sleep well.” My first step is to remind them about the sleep states we went over in prenatal prep. Commonly we discover that they are inadvertently arousing their lightly sleeping infant, thinking the baby is waking up.
Babies like noise for sleep
Newborns are used to the sounds of the uterus, which is actually quite noisy.
If your goal is to get your infant or baby sleeping somewhere other than your bed, a sound machine is going to be a good addition.
You can usually find one for under $40. I like the ones that you can tune and control volume. So you can modify the sound from deep and low like the sound on an airplane to more tinny sounding like the sound of a small vacuum cleaner. These things are usually very portable too, meaning you can take them wherever you go.
If you are going to be sharing a room with your infant (AAP sleep recommendations), you’ll want to find a sound that is pleasing to all who are in the room at night.
Many parents get anxious that they will damage their child’s hearing, so my recommendation is to make sure the machine isn’t right next to their head and turn it to a level that is obvious but not booming. You can also check the HZ if you are concerned. (safe hearing range for baby)
Babies find me boring
I put babies to sleep regularly as part of my work as a postpartum doula. Putting any of my tips and tricks to work for your family may prove challenging.
That is where my hands-on help comes in. From helping with baby wearing, to providing in-depth education on infant arousal states, to hands-on infant care while you rest, to my best swaddling and soothing techniques, my work as a postpartum doula is all about baby sleep.
And hand-in-hand with sleep is feeding, so I help parents to learn their infant’s feeding cues and help them strategize any road bumps they are facing with whatever feeding method is working best for their family. I’ve worked with families that:
- exclusively pump to provide human milk
- provide human milk directly for every feeding
- use formula for every bottle
- use a combination method of infant feeding
Learn more about my work and how I help new parents.
Want to learn some of my best suggestions for new parents to get more restorative sleep? Check out my blog on Baby sleep tips and tricks: parent edition.