Help Your Baby Sleep Better with these 10 Easy Fixes!
If you are, you may be unknowingly sabotaging your baby’s sleep.
In this post, I am going to help you troubleshoot some possible reasons for YOUR baby’s sleep problems.
Mistake #1 – Missing Baby’s Sleep Cues!
An overtired baby is a baby that doesn’t sleep well!
Most parents are.
The truth is that many babies simply do NOT get enough sleep!
Here is the most common reason for this…
The baby is often in an overtired and/or overstimulated state. When this happens, your baby’s body begins to release anti-sleep hormones that actually interfere with sleep!
Even if your baby DOES fall asleep, he is likely to wake too early since he is unable to remain asleep for long!
Usually the reason for this is that the new parents have been missing their baby’s sleep cues.
A young baby should not have long periods of wake time during the day.
At a certain point, all babies begin to get tired.
At this point, they begin sending out subtle cues that they need to sleep.
Being able to recognize your baby’s unique sleep cues can really make a huge difference in how your baby sleeps (or doesn’t sleep!)
If you are able to recognize and respond quickly to these cues, you can save yourself and your baby hours of crying and fussing!
Baby Sleep Mistake #2 – Not Using a Sound Machine!
Here’s one of the easiest baby sleep mistakes to fix:
Get and use a sound machine!
A sound machine is a very easy way to help your baby sleep better day or night!
I absolutely love them!
Many of my clients love them because they are small, portable and work as well as a larger, more expensive sound machine!
If you are not using a sound machine or a white noise app, start today!
There are so many reasons why they help with sleep…
First of all, newborns love them!
Why is a sound machine important?
Because it reminds them of the sounds in the womb and that really comforts them.
Sound machines also serve to neutralize all the noises in your home.
Let’s face it…
it’s impossible to keep your house quiet ALL the time.
You don’t want to be tip-toeing around all day trying not to wake your sleeping baby.
Sudden noises can startle your baby awake, especially when they are in a lighter sleep state.
You want your baby to cycle back into a deeper sleep state for longer naps and sleep stretches.
A sound machine helps babies to self-sooth and eases sleep transitions. (see mistake #9)
Another great reason why I love sound machines is that they really help with your baby’s sleep associations.
Use them as part of your sleep routine and your baby will quickly learn that this sound means sleep!
Mistake #3- Too Much Stimulation!
Is your TV always on?
Do you have lots of loud conversations or noise going on throughout the day?
Are you taking your baby out in public frequently?
Do you have a lot of company?
All these things can cause a baby to become overstimulated, which adversely affects his sleep.
Some babies are just more sensitive to stimulus as well!
Babies like calm and boring.
This is not always easy in our fast-paced lives.
But, if you have a baby that is often fussy and not sleeping, you may need to consider how to slow down and quiet his environment.
There are some things you can do to help reduce all the stimulus that may be affecting your baby’s sleep.
Baby Sleep Mistake #4- Not Swaddling Properly!
One of the easiest baby sleep mistakes to fix is proper swaddling.
The most common mistake that new parents make is not getting the swaddle tight enough!
Many parents tell me, “my baby hates the swaddle.”
The truth is that pretty much every baby complains while you swaddle them, but once inside a nice snug swaddle, babies quickly settle and calm down.
But the secret here is a nice. tight. swaddle.
…One that your baby can’t bust out of!
Most parents are afraid of this, but trust me, your baby will love it!
When the swaddle is too loose, baby manages to get her hands free or the swaddle starts to ride up over her face.
This scares parents and they often abandon the swaddle altogether.
While this is certainly understandable, here’s an easy solution…
Mistake #5- Not Feeding Enough During the Day!
Many new parents allow their babies to sleep really long stretches during the day without a feeding.
This is a sleep mistake and here’s why…
If your baby does not eat at least every 3 hours during the day, he will wake more often to eat at night!
Make sure that your baby eats every 2-3 hours during the day!
In the first 2 weeks, especially, you may even need to wake your newborn to eat since it is recommended that newborns eat every 2-3 hours during the day to regain normal lost weight since birth.
Even with older babies and “on demand” night feedings, It is still recommended to feed your baby at least every 3 hours during the day to help him sleep longer stretches at night!
Mistake #6- Not Napping Enough During the Day!
Most babies are awake too long between naps and awake too much during the day!!
This is often a surprise for new parents since new parents are often told to NOT let their baby sleep too much during the day.
This is a myth and can actually backfire, making night sleep more challenging!
The truth is that a baby that naps better during the day also sleeps better at night!
Mistake #7- Not Establishing a Sleep Routine!
One of the easier baby sleep mistakes to fix is getting a sleep routine.
Even if your baby is a newborn, it’s not too early to begin establishing a sleep routine.
Once mom is recovered from childbirth, I recommend starting a very simple sleep routine to help your baby begin forming sleep associations.
Keep the routine simple!
Mistake #8- Bedtime is Too Late!
Babies need early bedtimes!
Many parents make the mistake of thinking that if they put their baby to bed too early, then they will wake too early.
The truth is that many babies will wake up early no matter what!
Keeping them awake too late will only make them over-tired.
This actually causes their bodies to produce adrenaline and cortisol instead of melatonin!
With too much adrenaline and cortisol in their systems, they simply cannot fall asleep or stay asleep for long.
Mistake #9 – Not Allowing Your Baby to Cycle Through Sleep States!
Baby sleep cycles are very different than adult sleep cycles.
It takes a baby about 20 minutes to get into a deep sleep state.
They only remain in that deeper sleep state for about 20-25 minutes. After that, they cycle back into a lighter (REM) sleep state again.
In fact, babies spend about 50% of their sleep in this lighter sleep state!
This is a survival mechanism which protects them from going too long without eating!
REM sleep is also the sleep that babies need for their rapidly growing brains.
As they cycle through a lighter sleep state, they often squirm, squeak, make noises and even cry out.
But this does NOT necessarily mean that they are waking up!
Mistake #10 – Not Sleeping Baby on a Firm, Flat Surface!
Of all the new parent baby sleep mistakes, this one may be the most challenging to fix.
That’s because there are so many adorable and cozy baby products that do really help your newborn to sleep in the short term!
The problem with them is that they are not safe or sustainable for long-term use.
To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents place babies on their backs on a firm, flat sleep surface for EVERY sleep.
It also encourages parents not to let babies sleep in “sitting devices” or containers (strollers, car seats, swings, slings, etc.) and advises that sleeping babies be moved from these devices to a flat surface as soon as possible.