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5 sleep habits to begin with your brand new baby

A pediatrician mama spills her sleep secrets. 

5 sleep habits to begin with your brand new baby

Many new mothers worry about sleep—theirs and baby’s. But you can stop fretting and start planning. Dr. Jane Scott, MD, and author of “The Confident Parent: A Pediatrician’s Guilt to Caring For Your Little One—Without Losing Your Joy, Your Mind or Yourself,” shares her secrets to getting baby to sleep, starting from the day your child is born—


1. Start early

I’m asked all the time, “When should I start sleep training my baby?” The answer is, right away. Whatever routine you use to put your baby to sleep when she is just a few days old is the same routine that baby will expect every single time night or day. You can’t suddenly change your mind one day and decide you’re going to use a different method, and expect children to be okay with it. They usually won’t be, because they like what you taught them, so when you suddenly try to change it, most children will fight you. You can surely see their point of view.

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2. Set a goal

Successful sleep training requires commitment. You have to decide, preferably even before your baby is born, what you want your sleeping arrangements for the next few years to be.

Now is the time to decide: Do you want to be sharing your room or your bed with a child five years from now? (It may seem a long way away, but time has a tendency to speed by once you have kids.) Where do you think you’ll be living in five years’ time? Will you be working? Will you have more children by then? Given your answers, will you mind tending to a small child several times during the night or sharing your bed? Will your partner? If so, you should practice putting your child to sleep in her own bed (though not necessarily in her own room) the first day you come home from the hospital. Otherwise, you will likely consign yourself and your child to an eventual bout of sleep-training hell once you decide you want to make a change.

However, if your baby is healthy and full-term, with no feeding or other medical problems, and you adhere to my suggestions from the day your infant is born, you will likely have to neither share your bed nor listen to your baby scream for you through the day or night. In fact, my method should allow your child to sleep about four to five hours per night within two to three weeks, and up to seven or eight hours per night by the age of eight to ten weeks. All it takes is a little planning, patience, and perseverance. Many parents think it all depends on their baby’s temperament or stubborn behavior, but it doesn’t. It’s almost always related to your behavior. What Mom and Dad do gives baby the cues for how sleep will happen.

3. Buy a bassinet before you bring baby home

It’s perfectly fine to share your room with an infant if you create a set up that allows you to gradually move your child out of your room without causing the child distress, usually after the age of six months.

The way to do that is to invest in a bassinet. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of families purchase co-sleepers. The problem with a co-sleeper is it puts your baby in such close proximity it’s really an extension of the bed (it’s a far safer but not completely risk-free option than actual bed sharing). Your baby will feel safe and secure in his own completely contained little space if he starts his life in your home sleeping in one. That’s why a bassinet is a better choice than a co-sleeper. Yes, you do have to actually sit up (if it is right alongside your bed) or get up to nurse, but you don’t have to go far, and then when you’re ready to move your infant into his own room, somewhere between six and twelve months, you can do so guilt-free, and it is usually a change your infant is largely unaware of. Not having been accustomed to feeling you right next to him in the night, your baby won’t notice the difference and won’t get upset.

4. Be consistent

Consistency, above all, is the key to starting a smooth sleep routine with your baby. It should be exactly the same every time he goes to bed. In the evening however, it is really nice to add a gentle massage or, once the umbilical cord has fallen off, a warm bath in the evening before you feed him and put him down. Keep him wrapped in his warm little towel or a soft blanket for now—you’ll dress him later—and enjoy a cuddle. Make sure the lights in his bedroom are low. There’s nothing nicer than snuggling with your baby right before his evening bedtime, so enjoy this quiet moment. By all means settle into the rocking chair you bought just for this moment. As your baby takes his last bottle or nurses, you could sing to him or recite poetry—he loves to hear your voice—or even pull out a few books and get into the habit right away of reading quietly to him.

5. Watch for the moment

The practice you need to perfect is this: After each feeding, watch for the moment when your baby has had his fill and appears to be ready to close his eyes and go to sleep.

This is how he will communicate that it is time to stop everything and be put to bed. Don’t wait to let him fall asleep in your arms! Burp him if he has not been burped, then gently lift him up and go to the changing table, change his diaper, dress him in his sleep sac, or onesie plus a swaddle, and gently lay him quietly in his bed. If all of his needs are met, he should settle down and go to sleep. When he enters his light sleep cycle about an hour or so later, he’ll know that he is right where you left him, he will feel safe, and he will go back to sleep.

He may need a few practice runs to get this down, but it usually takes only a few times or certainly no more than a few days.

Dr. Jane Scott, MD, is author of The Confident Parent: A Pediatrician’s Guilt to Caring For Your Little One—Without Losing Your Joy, Your Mind or Yourself.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

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Detective set

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

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Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

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Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

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The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

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