I often get asked how I get my baby to sleep, all 5 of my babies for that matter, especially for naps! (Yes, all 5 of my kids nap at the same time almost every day. It's fine, call me the Nap Nazi, I don't mind.) I'll be honest, it took some practice. My oldest was a TERRIBLE sleeper, thanks to me and my incredible ability to create bad habits in babies. Four kids later and I've got this sleep thing down! Yes, there are books, methods, gadgets, doo-hickeys, and voodoo to get your baby to sleep, and I'm sure they work well for some! My methods have boiled down to some super simple tips, and a few sleep gadgets that I can't live without.
So today I'm sharing my best “get your baby to sleep” tips and tricks, and a few gadgets that actually work and are worth the investment!
Bubba constantly makes fun of me because I have irrational anxiety about my babies being asleep at night. I'm worried they will suffocate, or will spit up and aspirate. I'm terrified of SIDS, fire, and bad guys coming in my house to steal my baby at night. Told you it was irrational. But it's anxiety nonetheless.
With my oldest, I kept the baby right by my bed for months. Any time he made a noise, or if he went too long without making any, I would wake up to check on him to make sure he was breathing. By so doing, he got in the habit of sleeping only a few hours at a time, and I was ZOMBIE MOMMY for months and months.
I learned that moving the baby into their own room, or closet, or safe space AWAY from my side of the bed actually allowed baby (and mom!) to sleep better, for longer.
But…what do you do if you're nervous about your baby not breathing at night like I am?
Several friends of ours have had NICU babies and told us about the Owlet Baby Monitor. It's so cool! It's similar to the technology they use in the hospital to monitor your baby's breathing.
The Owlet is like having a living, breathing nanny (or nurse!) in your baby's nursery. Throughout the night while baby is asleep, Owlet keeps track of baby's vital signs by measuring heart rate, and the amount of oxygen flowing through the blood. These two vitals are called vital for a reason… they are great indicators of whether or not your baby is breathing.
The way these vital signs are tracked is through this teeny tiny “Smart Sock”, where inside the sock is a small sensor that does rests gently against your baby's skin.There are three different sizes of smart sock so you can use the Owlet up to 18 months old!
While the monitor is busy at work recording baby's data for you, the information is sent to the system's base system, which in turn, sends that data to your phone through a free app compatible with iPhone and Android devices.
The best part is, if the monitor senses any dramatic changes in heart rate, or O2 levels, it's designed to alert you on your phone with a loud alarm. But have no fear – if your phone dies or isn't handy, the base station is designed to alert you too, by flashing red and making a similar alerting tone!
The peace of mind this has given me is invaluable. Now baby can sleep farther away, giving us both a better night's sleep, while retaining the peace of mind that she's ok! It's an investment that will pay off with less under-eye circles when you wake, and more peace of mind while you sleep!
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Truth be told, I'm not very good at swaddling. The blankets come loose several times per night, and going back to the suffocation anxiety I have, just makes me and baby lose lots of sleep. I've converted to wearable blankets and will never go back!
I know my baby is staying warm all night, and there are even swaddle versions of wearable blankets for when they are tiny and sleep best when wrapped tight.
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I learned early on that routine is huge (I'll get to that in a minute). But specifically, there's something magical about bath time and babies! I make it a point to bathe my kids (and baby) every night before bed, even if we are all tired and exhausted. It doesn't have to take long – but that 5 minutes of letting them relax in warm water, rubbing them with Lavender Baby Lotion, then snuggling them up for bed really can't be beat.
Plus, I've learned that bath time is now an indicator for my kids' little minds that it's time to sleep. Think of it like Pavlov's Dog; your brain gets trained! So now bath = time for sleep for my baby and kiddos, and it really really really helps.
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I've talked about this quite a bit before in my Q&A's but I'm obsessed with white noise! My kids (and I) now can't sleep without it. You can buy an official White Noise Machine like I have, or you can download a white noise song on your phone and use it (which is helpful when traveling).
We have a white noise machine in every kid's room and crank it up! It helps them sleep through dogs barking, doorbells ringing, and the dance parties Bubba and I have when doing dishes at night (#truth).
White noise is important for babies! One thing we don't think about is how noisy it is in the womb. So when a baby comes out and suddenly hears silence, it wigs them out a bit! Keep white noise on when it's time to sleep and it is soothing, and again, conditions them to know that when they hear it, it's time to sleep.
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As I've mentioned throughout the post, routine and consistency is NUMERO UNO. If you have an erratic sleep schedule, your baby (or kids) will be erratic sleepers. Here are a few consistency tips:
- Pick a nap time and work your life AROUND it. Schedule shopping, play dates, workouts – everything! – around nap time. Protect it and preserve it and have the same nap time every day. Once they get to be amazing sleepers then you can adjust here and there, but you'll find me at home with 5 nappers every day between 1:30 – 3:30.
- With newborns they basically sleep all the time and that's fine, don't get too set on a schedule at first. But the sooner you can get into a routine, the better!
- Share that routine with your spouse (and babysitter or nanny when applicable) so you're on the same page. When we were sleep training Hutch as a baby, I literally printed out his schedule and taped it on the walls around our house. NO JOKE! That way we always knew when nap time and bed time was and stuck with the schedule.
- Keep a consistent bedtime! Summer is really hard, but mostly for my older kids. Daivy and baby Mory still go to sleep around the same time every night, which keeps them rested, happy, and good consistent sleepers. And when it comes to bedtime, the earlier the better in my book!
- With babies I always follow the routine EAT, PLAY, SLEEP. It's tempting to nurse your baby to sleep but it only creates bad habits. I will feed Mory, then will lay out a blanket and let her kick and play for a while. It gives her time to get her bubbles (and poops!) out, and wears her out so that when she does sleep, it's a solid 2+ hour nap instead of little pockets of sleep throughout the day.
- With my older kids, they nap most of the time (when they aren't in school full-day). But on the days they don't nap for whatever reason, they still have to have 2 hours of quiet time in their room, just to keep the routine, let them rest, and give mommy a little break!
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So there you go! Those are some of my tricks.
What are your tricks for getting a newborn to sleep through the night? Share with me in the comments below!
This post was generously brought to you by our friends at Owlet. I was provided a monitor for review, but all thoughts and opinions, as always, are 100% mine.