Sleep. The one topic that is guaranteed to be at the forefront of most new parents minds. Whether it is how much their baby is having or, most likely, how little the parents are having it becomes a word synonymous with those first few months (or years) of parenting. That is why we are dedicating a whole week to all things sleep related. From baby sleep tricks to routines and safe sleep. It’s all here this week so we hope you enjoy it.
First up it’s a question I googled a lot ‘How to get my baby to sleep?’. Honestly, I think I tried everything going with the girls. They were not the best sleepers in those early months and although I hoped beyond hope that it would get better (and it did) I still didn’t stop trying to find that one magical solution that would give them, and me, some much needed Zzzz’s.
So to help all you lovely parents I’ve come up with my A to Z of sleep tricks. Believe me, they are worth a try. The methods of getting your little one to sleep will vary depending on their age as their requirements and ability to sleep change but these should hopefully give you a bit of guidance. As ever please do share your tips and tricks with us below.
Baby Sleep Tricks
A is for Avoiding Stimulation. Keep bedtime as a quiet time. Try not to play with toys or have too much going on before bedtime.
B is for Bathtime. I always found a nice bath helped to settle the girls before bed. It symbolised that bedtime was near and helped them wind down. It still does.
C is for Cradling. Most babies like a gentle rock or bounce to send them to sleep. Transferring them to the moses basket or cot becomes a highly crafted skill!
D is for Dummy. I was never adverse to the dummy but both girls wouldn’t take one initially. Eventually Molly took one at 4 months and it changed my life. I kid you not. She went from not sleeping at all to sleeping for hours on end. She was also able to soothe herself to sleep so we didn’t have to wait with her. Yes there were meltdowns when she lost the dummy in the night but that was a small price to pay. Alice preferred her thumb which was much easier as she couldn’t loose that!
E is for Emptying The Cot. As they get a bit older you may find that they mess about a bit with their toys. Try removing everything from the cot if this is the case.
F is for Fragrance. To try and help Alice sleep my mum mixed up some essentials oils which we placed in hot water and diffused in the room before Alice went to sleep. A few drops of lavender oil can work wonders. Please note you should be careful using essential oils with tiny babies. I always placed it in the room before Alice went to bed and then removed it.
G is for Gradient. If your baby is struggling to sleep they may not like being flat. I found Alice was better when she was propped up slightly. I placed a few blankets under one end of her crib mattress to raise her head up slightly which seemed to help.
H is for Hands. Resting your hands on your little one’s tummy can help with sleeping. When we had a Snuzpod I would have the side down and place my hand on Alice’s tummy whilst she went to sleep. If you’d like a Snuzpod for yourself then check out our fabulous competition.
I is for Ignoring. I found this very hard but if all else fails try ignoring them. I didn’t like letting them cry it out and in truth that didn’t work for Molly. This is a very personal choice but has worked for a lot of people I know.
J is for Journeys. This can be a vicious circle but can be your only bit of sanity for some peace and quiet. Car journeys soothe a lot of babies and I know many a parent who has done an 11pm drive around the block. Likewise getting out and about with the pram is a lifesaver. Both Fern and I did many a walk to let the littles get some shut eye. Great for your fitness too.
K is for Keep Going. Not exactly a trick but just a little bit of reassurance for you. Keep doing what you are doing. Baby will get there and things will get easier. It may not seem like it at the time but having got through it twice I can assure you it does.
L is for Lighting. My girls favour darkness for their sleeping. It also helps differentiate between naps and bedtime as I never made it quite as dark for naptime. A good blackout blind is a must. When they wake in the night try to avoid turning bright lights on. Have a small nightlight or turn a hall light on instead.
M is for Milk. Often if baby isn’t sleeping they will hungry and need a feed. Give them a dream feed at around 11pm to see if that makes them go for longer and if they wake in the night feed them and put them straight back to sleep.
N is for Naps. The frequency and length of naps can sometimes affect bedtime. It didn’t with my girls, they loved sleep, but be aware of this if your nighttime routine is becoming disrupted.
O is for Osteopaths. I am a big advocate of a cranial osteopath. It worked wonders for Alice and I now think perhaps it could have helped Molly in the early months. I highly recommend it.
P is for Pampers. Ok, it doesn’t have to be Pampers but I’d already used N! Make sure baby is wearing the right size and absorbency nappy to see them through. Whether that is a few hours or when they are sleeping through the night. There is nothing like a wet nappy to wake a sleeping baby.
Q is for Quiet. As you will see from W below not all babies like the quiet but you should definitely lower the level of all noise prior to bedtime. If baby is with you downstairs then a quieter level of talking or television should help. Alice has always loved it being really quiet while she sleeps whilst Molly could sleep through a pneumatic drill (and has!!!).
R is for Routine. I never tried to force a routine on the girls (we will be chatting routines later in the week) but it does help to have some sense of repetition to get your little one used to bedtime and nap time. Both my girls fell in to a routine by themselves and it was brilliant once they did.
S is for Swaddling. That feeling of being wrapped tightly helps baby feel secure and mimics the feelings of being in the womb where space was restricted. I used the Gro Swaddling blankets which were really easy to use and kept the girls snug.
T is for Temperature. Getting the right temperature for the room is essential. You don’t want it too hot nor too cold. Make sure your baby is comfortable and wearing appropriate clothing and blankets for the temperature.
U is for Understanding. Only you really know your baby. You will get to know what they want and when (most of the time!!).
V is for Voice. Your voice is an immense source of comfort to your little one. Whether it is gentle shushing, story telling or singing lullabys. Keep the voice levels low to avoid getting them too excited.
W is for White Noise. Some babies don’t like the quiet as actually there will be more unexpected noises that occur that you aren’t aware off. Fern favoured the vacuum or hairdryer and I tried a ticking clock by Alice. You can also get some great apps and toys that have sounds to soothe baby, such as Ewan The Dream Sheep.
X is for XOXO. A little cuddle and kiss doesn’t go amiss before bedtime. It reassures your little one and being close to you can help regulate their breathing before they drift off. Some babies will only fall asleep whilst being held
Y is for Your Scent. Try lying baby on a muslin or one of your T-shirts/PJ tops. Both will have your scent normally mixed with milk which will calm baby.
Z is for Zzzzzzzz. Hopefully after all of this both baby and you will be getting some restful sleep. After all we know it is much needed.
And if all this fails remember sleep is for wimps! All we need is caffeine and a packet of chocolate digestives!
Image by Little Beanies Photography.