Wouldn’t it be nice if you got handed a manual on baby sleep after your little one was born?
As a pediatric sleep consultant, I’ve worked with numerous new parents whose number one question is, “How do I get my baby to sleep better?!”
I get it! You’re tired and looking for a way to help, and I’m here to do that!
My top tips when it comes to all things baby sleep are:
- Room temperature- keep the room nice and cool (68-72 degrees), and dress the baby appropriately.
- Keep it dark- I mean, DARK! If you can see your hand in front of your face, it’s not dark enough. Babies don’t produce melatonin as newborns, so a dark room helps.
- White noise- since it is the noise they hear in the womb, so many babies find this comforting. If you feel they don’t, you can always try pink noise. Keep it below 70 decibels and have it running for all naps and bedtime.
- Swaddle- this can be hit or miss, but many babies find it comforting. It’s important to note that once they start showing signs of rolling, it’s time to move to a sleep sack for safety reasons.
- Feed-make sure baby has had a full feeding before being laid down.
- Follow wake windows- wake windows for newborns are anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes of awake time before they get overtired.
- Routine-start a bedtime routine the moment they’re born. It can be simple: bath, massage, feed, book, swaddle and then sound machine on. This routine will eventually become an association that it’s time to sleep (for naps, do a shorter version).
How to Handle Witching Hour
Something else important to note is what we call the “Witching Hour,” which is when a baby starts to become highly fussy and sometimes thought of as colic (they are two different things, so speak to your pediatrician if you think your baby is colic).
The truth is, the Witching Hour usually happens in the early evening and is due to over-tiredness. So what do you do?
Consider practicing the 5 S’s by Dr. Harvey Karp (in this order) to help calm your baby.
- Side or Stomach Position
- Shushing-get close to them and make a loud “shhhh” sound or turn the sound machine on.
- Swinging-swing them side-to-side.
- Sucking-this could be a pacifier or finger.
It’s important to note that this is not meant to replace feeding. Once you know the baby is well-fed, you can bring these steps into play.
Early Signs of Tiredness
Lastly, an overtired baby is hard to get into a relaxed state. I always advise parents to look at the early signs of being tired and offer them a nap:
- Red eyebrows or dark circles under their eyes
- Starts to look away
I encourage you to try these tips and see how your baby responds. Remember that you are the best parent for your child, and never do anything that goes against your gut.
About Jamie Ortiz
Jamie Ortiz owns Little Ones Sleep Society. Her favorite part of sleep consulting is supporting her parents through a stressful time, offering different ways of making them comfortable and celebrating them reaching their goals while being able to achieve them by making the parents relaxed and also knowing what their baby needs. Being certified in baby and toddler sleep, newborn care, and sleep for adopted and fostered children, plus being fluent in Spanish, she’s been able to work with families in both communities.