How to extend your baby’s sleeping hours.
*We’ve partnered with Nested Bean to help you get a few more hours of much-needed ZZZs.
Nothing can bring a new family’s bliss crashing down faster than the heavy reality of sleep deprivation. It’s true that newborns sleep a lot… they just don’t do it all at one time (and neither, unfortunately, do some toddlers). I remember thinking to myself often when my daughter was little that, “If I could just get her to sleep a little longer, I’d be so happy.”
1. Snuggle up. Okay, I know, the sleep experts are rolling their eyes at me. But seriously, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I never intended to start co-sleeping with my daughter, but I was exhausted, and she slept so much more soundly when I was with her. More sleep and baby snuggles is really, really hard to pass up. Co-sleeping can be very effective, as long as there is a slight barrier between you and your baby, such that they can feel your reassuring touch, but are out of harm’s way in case you roll over.
2. Weigh’em down. You will notice that your baby sleeps soundly as long as you have your hand on their chest or tummy. Just a little bit of pressure does the trick. In fact many times, you move your hand off her tummy, back away, and BAM! Her eyes (and mouth!) pop open. Don’t underestimate the power of a reassuring light touch to keep baby sleeping -- experts say that touch helps release oxytocin and diminishes cortisol, the stress hormone. And less stress means longer, better sleep. Since you can’t keep a hand on them all the time, a weighted swaddle like the Nested Bean Zen Swaddle can help provide gentle pressure, just like your touch while your little one sleeps, so that you can catch a break once in a while.
3. Keep baby’s room nice and dark. Sleep consultant Carolina Romanyuk stresses that your little one’s room should let as little light in as possible. “Light suppresses the release of sleep hormones and can trigger the release of cortisol,” she says. A dark room provides an environmental cue that it’s time to rest, not time to play. You can begin cuing sleep early by dimming the lights. As many parents resort to electronics to engage their toddlers, Romanyuk also suggests avoiding electronics in the hour before naps and bedtime, since the blue light from the screen can trigger heightened brain activity.
4. Don’t overheat baby. My daughter was born in the fall, so I feel like I’ve had people reminding me her entire life to make sure that she was nice and warm. However, dressing them too warmly can make them wake up sweaty, and can even be a risk factor for SIDS. Additionally, baby’s room should be between 68 and 72 degrees to keep them sleeping comfortably.
5. Get in motion. The first parenting life hack that my husband and I figured out was that motion was the key to a soundly sleeping baby. On those nights (and days) when nothing else worked, we would load up our little one into a baby carrier and take a walk or start doing household chores. Within minutes, she’d be out, and she’d stay asleep long enough for me to actually get some things done, or even take a nap myself.
6. Make sure they get plenty of sleep during the day. Older generations may caution you not to let your child sleep too long or “they’ll never sleep at night,” but sleep tends to encourage more sleep. An overtired, cranky baby is more difficult to put down, and experiences poorer quality of sleep once they finally stop fighting you. Better to keep them on a routine that ensures plenty of rest for all.
*This post was sponsored by Nested Bean. Get 15% off your entire purchase at Nestedbean.com by using the code WELLROUNDED15 at checkout!