There is no question that having a baby is one of the most magical and rewarding experiences of your life, but that does not mean that it is easy. You could spend the nine-month run-up to the birth reading every parenting book you can get your hands on, but nothing will prepare you for the rollercoaster experience of raising a child and what to consider after they come along.
An utterly disrupted routine and new challenges around every corner will soon leave you feeling completely exhausted – and that is before you factor in months of interrupted sleep.
Many parents find the lack of quality sleep to be the most challenging aspect of having a baby. Bleary-eyed days seep into long nights where you can be lucky to catch just an hour or two of uninterrupted shut-eye, and then the cycle begins again. In recent times, seeking the advice of a baby sleep guru has become a popular option for fixing the problem but parents are divided over how effective this expensive method really is.
Although it may seem like an impossible mountain to climb when you are looking through sleep-deprived eyes, creating a solid night-time routine could be the answer to all of your problems. Give yourself the best chance of having a good night’s rest by using these tried-and-tested tips for helping your baby to switch off and stay asleep for longer.
Now, it might seem nonsensical to add sound to create a more restful atmosphere, but the use of background noise such as whale song and white noise can help babies to sleep through the night – although be mindful that white noise is not a one-size-fits-all solution. As half of a baby’s sleep is in the light REM stage which is devoted to dreaming, they are restless and easily disturbed by the smallest noises. Falling asleep to general background sounds means that any other noises which occur throughout the night, such as the ringing of a telephone, are less likely to rouse your baby.
Not all babies appear to enjoy swaddling at first, but experienced parents will encourage you to keep trying this long-favoured tactic. Swaddling is an age-old practice which involves tightly wrapping newborns in a sheet or blanket to restrict the movement of their limbs. These days you can use special products like a baby swaddle bag which keep newborns feeling cosy and safe but allow for more leg movement which is recommended for healthy hip development. As well as mimicking the snugness of being in the womb, keeping the limbs wrapped close to the body prevents your baby waking themselves with their innate ‘startle reflex’. Swaddling can be done until your baby starts rolling over.
Think Cool and Dark
A cool room is best environment for sleep for babies and adults alike. Keeping the room too warm will lead to your baby becoming increasingly uncomfortable throughout the night which inevitably means you being woken by more crying episodes. It is also recommended to have the bedroom or nursery as dark as possible during the night as any kind of light disruption is likely to wake the baby.
Limit Nap Length
Having spent all night trying to get your baby to sleep, waking them up during the day can seem criminal. However, remember that a long nap in the day means a restless night to come. Limit daytime naps to a maximum of 2.5 hours each and use the extra time awake to fit in more feedings.