It may feel, in the beginning, like all your baby does is sleep. But at night, when you want them to be out for a solid eight hours, they can wake up frequently disrupting your sleep. Welcome to one of the most difficult parts of parenthood.
To make sure your baby is sleeping safely and for as long as possible, you’ll need to give this topic some serious thought.
Babies Should Sleep on Their Backs
When experts began recommending that babies sleep on their backs instead of on their stomachs, the rate of Sudden Infant Death cases dramatically dropped. That’s why it’s important to remember to always place your baby on their backs while they sleep. It’s the safest position for them.
While they are sleeping there should be nothing in their crib or bassinet except for them. Do not put any pillows or stuffed animals in there with them — that’s a huge suffocation risk.
What Are Some Sleep Strategies to Try
Whether you have a baby who sleeps well or one who wakes up multiple times a night, it’s a good idea to have a solid list of sleep strategies to employ.
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a baby who sleeps well at first, that can change at any point. My child was a great sleeper until after she got her first cold — from there on out, she struggled to sleep through the night until she was a bit older.
Here are some of the sleep strategies that became my go-to solutions for my child and me.
- Bedtime routine: Having a routine that signifies it’s time to wind down and get to sleep is one of the best things you can do. Everyone’s bedtime routine is different. What worked for my child is a bath, a short book, and a few lullabies I would sing to her.
- Putting your baby down before they are asleep: You want to put them in their crib when they are drowsy, but still awake. This will teach them to soothe themselves to sleep.
- Lower the lights: Dimming the lights will signal to your baby that bedtime is approaching, and it may make them sleepier.
- Don’t skip naps: Skipping naps is a mistake rookie parents often make. They figure if a child is more tired than usual they’ll sleep longer at night. That usually backfires because their child is often overtired by then, which leads to poorer sleep.
Learning the art of swaddling can help your newborn sleep. The theory is that a swaddle reminds a baby of their rather cramped corners in their mama’s womb. Swaddling remains a time-tested method of soothing babies and helping them sleep better.
Swaddling will only be a short-term sleep solution though. You should stop by about the three-month mark or when they begin to show signs of being close to rolling over. If your baby manages to roll over in their crib while they are wrapped in a swaddle, they face the danger of not breathing in enough air.
What Gear You’ll Need
You’re going to spend a good chunk of your child-rearing money on items that help your baby sleep. And, trust me, if it helps you both get a better night’s sleep, it’s worth every penny. Here are some of the items you’ll need.
- The best baby crib.
- The best crib mattress.
- The best bassinet.
- The best nap mats.
- The best crib sheets.
- The best swaddling blankets.
- Wearable blankets.
- Pacifier, if your baby takes one.
- The best sleep sacks or pajamas.
- The best pack ‘n play for sleeping in hotels, in your living room while you’re in there, or at a daycare provider’s house.
- A rocking chair or best glider for rocking your baby.
- The best baby monitor.
- The best baby night light.
Cribs and Bassinets
When buying cribs and bassinets, you need to pay attention to safety. Don’t buy old cribs that from garage sales — they may be covered in lead paint or have other features no longer deemed safe.
And remember when buying bassinets, that you’ll only be able to use them for a small window of time. Most of them have weight limits of 15 pounds or so. Pay attention to the age range for the model you’re considering.
Most bassinets can no longer be used between the age range of 4 to 6 months.
When buying a crib, you might want to opt for a 3-in-1 model if you’re on a tight budget. You can save money by converting the crib into a toddler bed and then a daybed when your child is older.
Some parents manage fine without baby monitors. You won’t need one in the beginning if you share a bedroom with your baby.
But if your room isn’t close by or if you sleep with a white noise machine running, it’s a good idea for safety purposes to have a monitor.
The more affordable units only focus on sound. But more expensive ones also give live camera feed into your child’s room.