As any new parent will tell you, the most important thing to master in the first year of your child’s life is sleep. Getting a good night’s rest might seem like an impossible feat in those early months, but there are some simple strategies I’ve picked up that allowed us a few precious extra hours of sleep. The key is persistence, patience and not setting your expectations too high.
Firstly, set up a routine. While it may seem silly to try and apply a timetable to a tiny newborn, having a night time routine from the start can be a great way of creating a relaxing bedtime atmosphere. Make sure the house is quiet and calm (admittedly sometimes easier said than done with a toddler in the home) in the hour leading up to bedtime. Give your baby a bath, drop in a little lavender oil, put on soothing classical music or a womb sounds CD. Hopefully your baby will begin to catch on that it’s time to sleep.
Try out white noise. Babies love sounds that us grownups find pretty annoying. A running vacuum cleaner or static from a radio can be a soothing lullaby to a newborn. If your baby is over-stimulated and fussing, sometimes white noise can make a world of difference.
Swaddle your baby. Your little one is used to being held tight and cosy inside your womb, so being out in the big white world can be a little overwhelming. Many moms I’ve spoken to, myself included, found that their babies were instantly soothed when wrapped up tightly in a stretchy cotton swaddle blanket. After feeding, burping and changing, try swaddling your baby before putting them down to sleep. In newborns this can also be a great way to stop their startle reflex from waking them.
If all else fails, acceptance can be a sanity-saver. Babies will be babies, and sometimes that means an evening of screaming or hours of fussing might be inevitable. Try and remember that this is a stage that will pass. You will sleep again, just maybe not anytime in the next few years.