Category Archives: Newborns

7 Gentle, Natural Ways To Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Better

7 Ways To Gently Naturally Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep

Fact: newborns and young infants aren’t usually the best sleepers, what with the waking every few hours to eat and all. That’s why the phrase ‘sleeping like a baby’ is so misleading, in my opinion! ;)

Understandably, parents often become very interested in how to help their newborns sleep pretty soon after delivery. The thing is, newborns and young babies aren’t ready for sleep coaching (we usually advise waiting on that until baby is at least 4 months old and have moved past the 4 month sleep regression).

Don’t let that make you feel hopeless, though – just because your newborn is too young for sleep coaching doesn’t mean you’re destined to endure months of sleeplessness. There are steps you can take to naturally, gently encourage your newborn to sleep better.

And that’s what we’re looking at today! Below are 7 ways you can naturally and gently promote better sleep for your newborn. Let’s take a look!

7 Ways To Gently, Naturally Encourage Your Newborn Baby To Sleep Better (and Longer!)

  1. Go for a walk with your baby. Turns out your grandmother was right – fresh air really does help children sleep better! Once your baby is a few weeks old, you can start incorporating a daily walk, or some time spent sitting outdoors. This will go far towards helping improve sleep at night and during naps.
  2. Give infant massage a try. We’ve written before about the benefits of infant massage in improving baby sleep, but we’ll say it again – infant massage is an easy and natural way to help your newborn relax, which in turn can help promote better sleep. Not only that, but infant massage can improve digestion (great for colicky newborns), strengthen the mother-child bond, and even aid growth and development!
  3. Keep days bright and nights dark. Newborns aren’t born knowing that days are for playing and nights are for sleeping – in fact, many newborns have their days and nights mixed up, and sleep for long stretches during the day while being up every hour at night! You can gently, naturally correct this by making sure that your baby is exposed to sunlight during the day (not direct sunlight, but rather filtered sunlight in a bright, sunny room). In addition, work to keep nights dark – keep the room dim during diaper changes and feedings, for example. Over time, this will help re-set your newborn’s circadian rhythms and guide her towards sleeping long stretches at night and napping during the day.
  4. Cluster feed in the evening. It’s perfectly natural for newborns and young babies to ‘tank up’ on feeds in the evening, and to feed more frequently than they do during the the rest of the day. While cluster feeding can feel overwhelming for mom and dad (especially for mom, if she’s nursing – she may feel like she needs to camp out on the couch for hours every night!), many experts agree that cluster feeding is a natural part of the newborn stage. In fact, many agree that newborns do this as a way to get in a longer stretch of sleep at night- many babies will sleep their longest stretch of the day after cluster feeding! So if you’re looking to promote longer, better nighttime sleep, cluster feeding is a good strategy.
  5. Keep baby close. We don’t mean simply holding or wearing your baby (more on that in a moment). Keep baby close at night, too – consider sharing a room with your baby, and having your baby sleep near your bed in a bassinet or small crib. There are lots of benefits to having your newborn nearby at night – it can make middle of the night feedings more convenient, for one. But research indicates that room-sharing is more than convenient; babies who room-share and sleep close to mom have actually been shown to sleep better. They tend to cry less and sleep longer. They also tend to have slightly lower rates of SIDS. For these reasons, the AAP actually recommends room-sharing as the best sleeping arrangements for babies. Of course, room-sharing isn’t for everyone; there are definite pros and cons to sharing a room with your baby. As always, we recommend you find a sleeping arrangement that works best for your unique situation.
  6. Strive for adequate daytime naps. If your newborn or young baby is up every hour, all night long, then you’ve no doubt toyed with the idea of keeping him up more during the day, in the hopes that it will encourage him to sleep better at night. Be wary of this line of thinking – generally, babies who don’t nap well during the day actually sleep worse at night, because they are overtired! Yes, it’s important that your newborn have some awake time during the day (this helps correct any newborn day/night confusion). However, your newborn’s awake time should be relatively short (no more than 45-60 minutes, generally), and your newborn should take plenty of naps during the day.
  7. Carry/wear your baby. Nothing is more soothing for baby than being held close to mom or dad. Consequently, most newborns sleep best when they are in mom’s or dad’s arms, or held snugly in a baby sling. This is especially true for colicky babies – baby wearing is a great way to soothe colic! Remember that holding your baby, or wearing her around the house, certainly are not permanent sleep solutions. Rather, these are short-term strategies that will help maximize your baby’s (and your) sleep during those first few months after birth.

Need Newborn Sleep Help? You Came To The Right Place – Check Out These Resources!

Essential Keys to Newborn SleepNeed help encouraging your newborn to sleep better, and to sleep longer stretches at night and during the day? We have a great resource designed to do just that. Check out Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep, the latest e-Book from The Baby Sleep Site®. Available in PDF format as well as a variety of e-reader formats, Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is the tired parents’ #1 newborn resource. Developed by Nicole and Miriam (a lactation consultant, nurse, and Baby Sleep Site® sleep consultant), Essential Keys lays out everything you need to know about helping your baby to sleep better right from the start. It also includes information on feeding (both breast and bottle), baby communication, bonding with baby, daily routines, sample sleep schedules, and more. Download your copy today!
bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOr, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant, as well as access to ALL our newborn resources. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!

Interested in personalized, one-on-one help for your newborn? Why not consider one of our personalized sleep consulting packages? Our consultations allow you to work directly with one of our expert sleep consultants, and to get a Personalized Sleep Plan™ that will work for your family.

First, browse our extensive list of package options and select the one that looks best for your situation.
Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Have questions about how to help your newborn sleep well? Ask, and we’ll answer! Want to offer sleep tips with other parents? Share them below, in the comments section!

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Are Probiotics A Cure For Your Baby’s Colic?

Can Probiotics Cure Colic?One of our priorities here at The Baby Sleep Site® (aside from doing everything we can to help your baby sleep!) is to stay on top of current sleep-related research and best practice recommendations. Nicole and our team of sleep consultants really are sleep experts, but there’s a reason for that – they keep up with what’s happening in the field of sleep research!

Well, last week, one of our consultants forwarded a new and interesting article on to the rest of us. This article, from NPR’s health blog, poses the question, “Can probiotics help soothe colicky babies?”

Given that colic can lead to lots of nighttime waking, we were all ears! So what’s the scoop? Can probiotics help colicky babies? Or is this just another ‘cure’ that’s not actually a cure, like melatonin supplements?

Let’s take a look!

What Are Probiotics, And How Do They Help Newborns And Young Babies?

Simply put, probiotics (also known as ‘lactobacillus‘) are good bacteria. This is the type of bacteria found in the human digestive system – it’s the bacteria that helps us digest our food properly, and that prevents things like diarrhea and constipation.

What does this have to do with newborns and young babies? Well, as it turns out, many people (from parents to doctors and medical researchers) believe that colic symptoms are due largely to baby tummy troubles, like gas and bloating for example. The theory is that colicky babies in particular struggle with stomach problems, and that’s where the long bouts of inconsolable crying come from.

It follows, then, that giving newborns and young babies a dose of probiotics would help ease their tummy troubles, and would thereby reduce (or maybe even eliminate) their colicky symptoms.

This seems logical – but is it true? Does it actually work?

Are Probiotics A Cure For Colic?

Here’s the short answer – maybe.

Here’s the longer explanation. According to the NPR blog article, several studies (mostly done in Europe) have shown a link between probiotics and reduced colic symptoms. So it does seem that there’s some connection between the two. Even more interesting, though, is a recent study published by the JAMA Pediatrics, which indicates that probiotics may actually be useful in preventing colic.

Yes, you read that right — it might be possible to actually prevent colic. To put it lightly – wow!!

How does it work? Well, the theory is that offering probiotics actually helps a baby’s digestive system develop properly, which can in turn prevent chronic tummy issues, like gas and indigestion. Prevent those, and you can possibly prevent colic. From the article:

“There are a number of effects that we know probiotics can have,” says Dr. Robert Shulman, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. For example, probiotics may affect the immune system, improve the lining of the intestine and influence the balance of bacteria living in the digestive system, Shulman says.

But don’t rush out and buy every probiotic on the shelf just yet — this research is still very much in its infancy (no pun intended!), and Shulman cautions that much more research needs to be done before any broad, sweeping recommendations can be made. This means that, if you have a colicky baby at home, you will need to discuss any probiotic supplements with your baby’s healthcare provider first, before offering them.

Tips From The Baby Sleep Site® Sleep Consultants

This is all interesting stuff (especially to those of us who are Baby Sleep Site employees, and who are therefore obsessed with sleep!) But does it really work? And how can you put this information to work at home?

I asked our sleep consultants to share their own personal experiences with colic remedies, to see if probiotics proved useful for them. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Shaye’s daughter had colic, but the probiotics that Shaye gave her didn’t help much. As it turns out, Shaye’s little one didn’t have simple colic and actually needed medication to control her symptoms.
  • Miriam tried probiotics with one of her babies, but didn’t like them, and didn’t think they were effective. She says Colic Calm™ was a better solution for her family.
  • Sarah (one of our newest sleep consultants – check out her bio!) found probiotics extremely helpful in controlling her daughter’s colic. She had a pediatrician recommend them early on, and as she puts it, “I haven’t looked back!”

Of course, there’s no telling exactly what will work best for your colicky baby – you won’t know until you try various remedies. Just be sure not to offer any probiotics to your baby or toddler without first speaking to your healthcare provider.

Okay, parents – share your tips! How did you cope / are you coping with a colicky baby? Share your wisdom with us!

  • Need more sleep training resources? We have a ton! Browse our list of e-books and e-book packages, designed to help your baby or toddler better sleeping and napping habits. We even have a book that’s designed just for newborns, and focuses on gentle methods to shift sleep! These are perfect solutions for parents who want to sleep train on their own, but need more information.
  • Want 5 free e-Books, plus a weekly chat with a consultant? Join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice!.
  • Need Personalized Help? For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.
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4 Newborn Baby Items You Should Never Pay Full Price For (and 2 That You Should)

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Baby Items To Buy New and UsedWhen I was pregnant with my first child, I have a clear memory of walking into my local Babies-R-Us, ready to register for cute baby gear and feeling so excited. And then the nice checkout girl handed me the list of ‘must-have’ registry items. And there were eighty-two things on it.

EIGHTY-TWO. Seriously — how can such a tiny person need so many things?!

Well, in all honesty, your newborn doesn’t need quite that much stuff. But if you’re having a baby, you will need to buy some baby gear. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to focus on buying the things that you need at the lowest price possible.

But which newborn items can you afford to skimp on, and which should you buy new? Let’s take a look!

4 Newborn Baby Items You Should Never* Pay Full Price For

  • CLOTHING: This is one thing you can trust other people to buy for you – people love to shower new parents with cute baby outfits! Need more clothing? Hit up yard sales, thrift stores, and consignment stores. Or, even better, see if you can work out a borrowing arrangement with a friend. I did this, with a friend who had a little girl exactly 1 year older than my little girl. She loaned me clothes, and at the end of the season, I’d return everything back to her PLUS I’d add in any outfits or accessories that I’d picked up along the way. It was a great arrangement for both of us.
  • BEDDING: You know the cute (and pricey) bedding sets they sell in stores? Here’s a secret: you don’t need most of the stuff included. The quilts and comforters aren’t safe to put in the crib (they present a SIDS risk); same is true of the bumper pads. The crib skirt is nice, but non-essential. All you really need are a few good-quality crib sheets.
  • TOYS: Again – so cute, but too expensive! And your baby will outgrow many these fairly quickly. Remember, too, that your baby may end up being more interested in the box the toy came in than in the toy itself – another reason not to spend big bucks on these! Friends and family will buy these for you, too, and you can scour yard sales, thrift stores, and consignment stores to get them used. Borrowing from friends also works well. If you borrow or buy used, though, be sure to check the CPSC list of recalled items, to be sure what you’re buying is safe.
  • EQUIPMENT: By equipment, I mean things like bouncy seats, swings, high-chairs, baby bathtubs, etc. Lots of these things can be really useful during the newborn and early infant stages, but your baby will outgrown them pretty fast, so it’s better not to spend a fortune on these. Better to let others buy them for you, or to buy them used. Borrowing is great, too. (Again — when buying used or borrowing, check the CPSC recalls.) We have friends who have 4 children, and every time they had a new baby, they would borrow our baby swing. It was a great arrangement – it saved them money, and we didn’t have to let the baby swing sit in our basement, taking up space and collecting dust.
  • *You don’t need to pay full price for these things, but needing and wanting are two different things! I fully recognize that shopping (especially for a baby) is fun. So if you want to buy some of these things brand-new, and you have the money to do it – then go crazy, my friend! ;)

2 Newborn Baby Items You Should Probably Buy New

  • CRIB: Buying a used crib, or borrowing one from a friend, can be dicey. That’s because in 2011, the CPSC issued new regulations for crib manufacturers. Cribs sold prior to these new regulations most likely don’t comply with new safety standards, and therefore aren’t considered safe. For instance, most older cribs have drop-sides, and those are big no-no’s by today’s standards.

    Be careful, too, of buying or borrowing a newer used crib – even if it does meet safety standards, there’s no way for you to know if it’s been assembled properly. The only way to ensure proper assembly is to buy a new crib and then assemble it yourself.

  • CAR SEAT: I’m a bit of a cheapskate, but this is one item I was happy to pay full price for. Why? Because used car seats are most likely missing the original manufacturer instructions, and could very well be missing important pieces and parts. And if the car seat has ever been in a serious accident (something you can’t verify, if you buy it used), then its quality is compromised. It’s best to go with a new model, so that you can be sure you have proper installation instructions and all necessary installation equipment, and so that you know the car seat is in perfect working order.

So – what do you think of our list? Any items you’d add or change? Chime in, and help parents of newborns know how to get the most bang for their buck!

Expecting a baby, or have a new baby at home? Then I’ll bet it’s safe to say you’re not sleeping very well right now! Want to change that? We can help!

  • Need more sleep training resources? We have a ton! Browse our list of e-books and e-book packages, designed to help your baby, toddler, or newborn develop better sleeping habits. We even have a book that’s designed just for parents who want to work on naps! These are perfect solutions for parents who want to sleep train on their own, but need more information.
  • Want 5 free e-books, and access to a weekly expert chat? Join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice!.
  • Need Personalized Help? For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.
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What You Should Know About Newborn Baby Sleeping Patterns

Newborn Baby Sleep PatternsBefore I had children, I remember thinking (based on my very limited experience with babies!) that newborns slept all the time. Most of the newborns I’d see would be fast asleep in their strollers, in their carseats, in their slings, or in their moms’ arms, at any given time of day.

When I had a newborn of my own at home, however, I learned that my observation was only partly true. Yes, newborns do sleep a lot – but they don’t sleep for long!!

What’s that about, anyway? Why are newborns light sleepers? Why do they wake so frequently?

Why Does Your Newborn Baby Wake Frequently?

If you’ve done any reading on newborn sleep, then you know that newborns do, in fact, sleep a lot. On average, newborns sleep anywhere from 14-17 hours in a 24-hour period — that’s a lot of sleep! But here’s the thing – that sleep happens in short, 2-4 hour chunks around the clock. In this way, newborn sleep is far more fragmented than adult sleep – or even older baby and toddler sleep.

Why is newborn sleep so fragmented? Well, in part, it has to do with your newborn’s drive to eat. Remember, your newborn is growing at a phenomenal rate – she will double her birthweight in the first 4-5 months of life! It’s no wonder, then, that she needs to feed every few hours. Her tummy is small, and her calorie needs are quite high.

But hunger isn’t the only driving force behind your newborn’s frequent waking.

Your Newborn Baby’s Sleep Cycles Explained

The truth is, your newborn’s sleeping patterns are very different from yours. We adults tend to have longer sleep cycles – ours last anywhere from 90 – 100 minutes. And the majority of our sleep cycles are spent in deep sleep, with only a small percentage spent in more active, REM sleep.

But things are very different for your newborn. For one thing, your newborn’s sleep cycles are much shorter – they are only about 50 minutes long. That’s almost half as long as yours! And it’s not just sleep cycle length that’s different. Newborns spend way more time in active sleep than we adults do, and way less in deep sleep. In fact, it’s estimated that newborns spend about 75% of their sleep time in active sleep, compared to 20% for adults.

Short Cycles + Lots of Active Sleep = A Newborn Baby Who Wakes Up A Lot

Here’s how all these scientific facts fit together. It’s during the transition from one sleep cycle to the next that a person is most likely to wake up briefly. This is true for children and adults alike. If you think about it, this makes sense – you probably wake sometimes in the middle of the night, for no apparent reason, and then roll over and go back to sleep. That’s most likely because your brain was moving from one sleep cycle to the next. The same thing happens to your newborn.

But here’s the thing – your newborn goes through many more sleep cycles each night than you do. While we adults may have 4 or 5 sleep cycles in a given night, your newborn has up to twice that many. That means double the chances of waking up between cycles.

And we have to take all that active sleep into account, too. Active sleep tends to be lighter sleep – when we are in active, REM sleep, we are dreaming, and tend to stir and move more frequently. We are also much more prone to being woken up during active sleep. The same is true for your newborn – during lighter sleep, your newborn is more vulnerable to being awoken.

So when you add these two facts together – the fact that your newborn goes through many more sleep cycles each night, and the fact that newborns spend the majority of their sleep time in light, active sleep – and then you add in the round-the-clock need for food, it’s easier to understand why your newborn wakes often.

Why Are Your Newborn Baby’s Sleeping Patterns So Different?

We know the ‘what’ behind newborn sleeping patterns, but what about the why? Why do our newborns have many short sleep cycles, and why do they spend so much time in active sleep?

As it turns out, your newborn’s sleeping patterns are designed to keep your little one healthy and safe. The fact that your newborn spends lots of time in active sleep ensures that she will wake up to feed; it may also help to protect babies from SIDS. Some researchers have also indicated that the long amounts of time newborns spend in active sleep is crucial to their brain development.

What Does This Mean For You?

Well, it clearly means that if you have a sleepless newborn on your hands, that is completely normal! For the first 8-12 weeks of life, babies really do need to wake every few hours in order to eat, and they need to have more active sleep so that their brains develop normally.

But of course, the newborn stage is short-lived – by 4 months or so, most babies are ready to start having a long stretch of sleep at night. And by about 9 months of age, most babies are either sleeping through the night or are down to just one nighttime feeding. So yes – it does get better!

Don’t let all this talk about how normal night wakings are make you think that there’s nothing you can do to maximize your newborn’s nighttime sleep, however. While you can’t expect a newborn to sleep through the night, there are gentle, safe things you can do to help maximize your newborn’s sleep.

Questions about your newborn’s sleeping patterns? Tips to share on how to improve newborn sleep? Share ‘em below, in the comments!

  • Need more sleep training resources? We have a ton! Browse our list of e-books and e-book packages, designed to help your baby or toddler better sleeping and napping habits. We even have a book that’s designed just for newborns, and focuses on gentle methods to shift sleep! These are perfect solutions for parents who want to sleep train on their own, but need more information.
  • Want 5 free e-Books, plus a weekly chat with a consultant? Join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice!.
  • Need Personalized Help? For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.
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Top 10 Tips for Sleep-Deprived Royalty

Top 10 Tips for Sleep Deprived RoyaltyUnless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past week, you’ve likely heard the news: Great Britain has a new prince! His Royal Highness, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, was welcomed by the world on Monday, July 22nd. Parents William and Kate looked thrilled as they presented their new baby to the public a week ago.

Of course, by this time, they’re probably both looking more than a little tired as well. As every parent knows, few things are as mind-numbingly, soul-crushingly, “I-could-just-die-I’m-so-tired” exhausting as having a newborn in the house. While the royal couple will likely have quite a bit more help than the average new parent can expect, William and Kate are still in for some bleary-eyed days and sleepless nights in the months ahead. Even royals need 6-8 hours of sleep each night – and the little prince isn’t going to let that happen any time soon!

Luckily for William and Kate, we’re here to help. We’re offering up 10 royalty-themed tips that are sure to help mom, dad, and little George get plenty of sleep during the next few months.

  1. Sleep When The Baby Sleeps. None of us should be surprised if, in the next few months, we see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sacked out and drooling in the back of a limo. After all, new parents need to take every opportunity to nap – even if that opportunity happens to be during a royal motorcade.
  2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help. Remember: Charles and Camilla are just a phone call away.
  3. Create a Flexible Schedule. At this point, George’s daily schedule will mainly consist of eating and sleeping. But try to work in a few playtime activities each day, like tummy time, snuggling, reading board books, and watching parliamentary debates. You know — the usual.
  4. Swaddle George When He’s Fussy. Just be sure to leave his right hand free. A prince has gotta practice his royal wave, after all!
  5. Try Wearing George Around the House. Baby-wearing is another sure-fire way to calm George when he cries. Now, as far as we know, Alexander McQueen hasn’t yet introduced a line of baby slings. But then again, Kate, you would probably rock an Ergobaby.
  6. Develop a Bedtime Routine. Create a routine that helps George relax and settle in for bed. A bath, a few bedtime books, and a round of “God Save The Queen” should do the trick.
  7. Take Turns Doing the Night Shift. Note to William: nothing is sexier than a future monarch who changes diapers at 2 a.m.
  8. Avoid Overstimulation. An overstimulated baby is a fussy baby, and a fussy baby is a sleepless baby. So, when possible, ask the noisy crowds of adoring Brits to keep it down, and request that the hordes of paparazzi ease up on the pictures a little.
  9. Make Time For Yourselves. It’ll be easy to get lost in the demands of caring for little George. So be sure to make time for yourselves every once in awhile, to indulge in the kinds of grown-up activities that everyone enjoys: a trip to the gym, a visit to the spa, a spot of tea with Her Majesty the Queen, etc.
  10. Remember: We’re all rooting for you. This fact may not make your nights any easier, but it’s true: the whole world is celebrating this birth and cheering you on! May you both be blessed in your new role as parents, and may little George be sleeping through the night soon! :)

What tips would you offer the royal couple? Share them below!

Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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Is Swaddling Your Baby Now Dangerous (and Illegal)?

Baby Swaddling Safety We’ve always recommended swaddling as a good (and safe) way to help soothe fussy newborns and to promote better baby naps and longer nighttime sleep. But, do we need to rethink our position on swaddling babies?

At this point, many daycares are banning swaddling and the American Academy of Pediatrics has labeled swaddling an “unsafe” practice in childcare settings. In fact, since December 2012 it is now illegal for child care centers in Minnesota to swaddle at all!

Why Are Daycares Banning Swaddling, and How Is It Affecting Babies?

So, what’s prompted this recent ban on swaddling? In 2011, a study by the National Resource Center on Child and Health Safety (NRC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded that swaddling can increase the risks of “serious health outcomes” and concluded that “swaddling is not necessary or recommended” in any childcare setting.

The AAP named several specific swaddling-related concerns, including:

  • Hip dysplasia or dislocation (tight swaddling increases the chances of hip problems.)
  • Loose blankets in the crib (if a baby breaks free of the swaddle, the blanket can cover his face, increasing the risk of SIDS.)
  • Stomach sleeping (if a swaddled baby is placed on her stomach to sleep, or if she rolls from her back to her stomach while swaddled, it increases the risk of SIDS.)
  • Improper swaddling technique in general (the AAP has concerns that not all childcare workers know how to safely swaddle babies.)

As you can imagine, this recent push to stop swaddling newborns and young infants has made a major impact on childcare providers. Daycare providers report that infants who used to sleep an hour or more at a time are now sleeping for 15-20 minutes (or not at all). This, of course, means there’s far more crying and fussiness for daycare staffers to deal with and lack of sleep isn’t good for the babies, especially! This has parents and caregivers alike feeling very, very frustrated.

Who Doesn’t Support the Ban?

As you know, most newborns need more gentle approaches to help them fall asleep, so what’s a family to do when they have a fussy newborn? We do offer newborn-friendly sleep coaching strategies in our e-book, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep, as well as newborn-focused Personalized Sleep Plans™ to help your newborn develop healthy sleep habits. But, it’s not as if child care employees can hold and rock every single wailing infant at the same time, after all; swaddling is likely one of the few methods childcare centers have to soothe all their babies simultaneously. Unfortunately, a persistent lack of daytime naps isn’t healthy for young babies, and it likely means less sleep at night, too — since the over-tiredness brought about by poor naps directly affects nighttime sleep.

However, if not done properly, swaddling can create issues (some of them serious). Swaddle a baby too loosely, and she’s likely to kick off her blanket. And loose blankets in the crib? A big no-no. Swaddle a baby too tightly, though, and you risk causing hip dysplasia or dislocation.

And there’s another big risk: A baby who’s snugly swaddled may still be able to roll over, from his back to his stomach. And a baby who’s swaddled and lying on his stomach is at an increased risk for suffocation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics may support the ban on swaddling in childcare centers, but not every baby expert agrees with this approach. Dr. Harvey Karp, the creator of the Happiest Baby on the Block books and DVDs, and an avid proponent of swaddling, has spoken out against this recent trend. He emphasizes that swaddling is an ancient and universally-used technique, and he points out that, in his opinion, the NRC hasn’t met the “burden of proof” they need to in order to issue such a sweeping recommendation. In their 2011 report, the NRC listed only five studies as references, and ignored the huge body of literature that highlights the benefits of swaddling. There have been others who have spoken out against the ban such as here and here.

But, does this mean you should ignore the NRC and AAP recommendations?

Should You Still Swaddle Your Baby? Safe Swaddling Tips and Techniques

It appears there’s always a study coming out showing something unsafe that was once safe. It’s hard to keep up with it all! As with many “recommendations” each family needs to weigh the pros and cons, make an educated decision, and do what’s best for their own baby and situation. This is true of many decisions you will need to make with your baby. For now, we wanted to share safe swaddling tips should you choose to swaddle your baby:

  • DO NOT SWADDLE TOO TIGHTLY – When you swaddle your baby, you may feel tempted to wrap him up as tightly as possible, so that he’ll be less likely to break free. Avoid that impulse, though. Babies who are wrapped too tightly may not be able to breathe well, and wrapping their legs too tightly can lead to hip dysplasia and dislocation. A baby’s legs should always be able to bend freely in the swaddle. Bottom line: babies should be wrapped snugly, but not tightly, in a light and breathable blanket. Note: Nicole used the Miracle Blanket with both her boys.
  • CHOOSE ARM/HAND POSITION – Historically, parents have swaddled babies with their arms by their sides. Recently, however, there’s been a push to swaddle babies with their hands by their faces. Supporters of this technique point out that it allows babies to self-soothe, by sucking on their fingers. They also point out that it gives baby a bit more mobility, which means that if baby does accidentally roll over while swaddled, she can do something about it.

    However, not everyone agrees. In a recent phone interview with Nicole, Dr. Karp explained that he still advocates for swaddling with arms by the sides. He shared that after the first few weeks of a baby’s life, his arms begin to relax and it’s more comfortable for most babies to have hands by the sides. He also pointed out that if babies’ hands are by their faces, they’re less likely to soothe themselves and more likely to hit/scratch themselves in the face (which is decidedly un-soothing!) He also pointed out that a baby who’s swaddled with hands by face is far more likely to break free of the swaddle, and that means loose blankets in the crib.

    All babies are different, so listen to your baby’s cues about what is most comfortable for her. If you do swaddle with arms by sides, be sure to leave a little flexion in the elbows — your baby’s arms shouldn’t be rigidly straight. If you swaddle with hands by face, be aware that you may need to check on baby regularly, to be sure she hasn’t broken free of the swaddle and loosened her blanket.

  • SUPERVISE YOUR BABY – To be completely safe, you should supervise your baby while he’s swaddled. That way, if the blankets come loose, or if he rolls over, you’re there to intervene. Many families of newborns tend to room share for closer monitoring.

    If you’re practicing safe swaddling techniques (using light cotton blankets, swaddling snugly but not tightly, etc.), you greatly reduce the risk that anything dangerous can happen to your baby while he’s swaddled. However, to be extra cautious, if you want to swaddle your baby for prolonged periods of time at night, you could invest in a movement monitor. A movement monitor does just what the name says — it monitors your baby’s movements. If your baby is completely still for too long, an alarm sounds, letting you know about it. Movement monitors are designed to combat SIDS, and to alert parents (or daycare staffers) to situations in which a baby might not be breathing.

For a demonstration on safe swaddling techniques, check out this video:

What are your thoughts on this topic? Are daycares going overboard by banning swaddling, or does this approach make sense to you? And, what has your swaddling experience been like? Share your insights, parents! We love to hear them.

Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

Disclosure: The Baby Sleep Site™ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other product affiliate programs. If you click on a product link above and make a purchase, The Baby Sleep Site™ may (but not always) receive a small commission from the company selling the product. This commission will not affect your purchase price. We only recommend products that we believe are quality products and are good for our readers.

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Why Newborn Babies Are Fussy In The Evening (Besides Colic)

We’re talking today about something that most of us parents have experienced. It’s brutal. It’s intense. It makes us want to grab the nearest set of earplugs.

We’re talking about The Witching Hour.

You know what we mean, right? That time during the late afternoon/early evening when our newborns suddenly begin wailing for no apparent reason and WILL NOT STOP?

During The Witching Hour, nothing calms our newborns. Feedings are fruitless. Pacifiers are pointless. Lullabies are lacking. It’s hour after hour of red-faced crying, and it often doesn’t end until long after the sun has gone down.

Nicole’s Note
“My son didn’t cry a lot in the evening, but boy was he fussy if I wasn’t nursing him virtually non-stop. I camped out on the sofa 5p-9p almost every evening!”

These bouts of evening fussiness aren’t just hard to listen to; they do major damage to sleep! A baby who’s wailing won’t usually settle down for a nap, and a baby who’s spent the last 4 or 5 hours crying is much less likely to sleep through the night.

So why do our newborn babies do this?

Colic Is Sometimes To Blame

Many parents chalk this newborn behavior up to colic. Simply put, colic refers to any prolonged, very intense crying (more intense than “standard” crying) that seems to have no real cause. And these episodes of colic almost always begin during (you guessed it) late afternoon or early evening.

It’s estimated that around 20% of babies experience real colic. Unfortunately, there’s no known cause of colic. Lots of people theorize that colic is somehow related to intestinal troubles — gas, indigestion, etc. The theory is that gas and indigestion cause abdominal pain, and that’s what makes our newborns cry so inconsolably.

What If It’s Not Colic? Other Causes of Nighttime Fussiness

But what if your newborn’s fussiness isn’t true colic? What if it’s just plain old regular fussing? There are a few other possible causes of your little one’s evening crankiness…

  • Overtiredness If your newborn doesn’t have the best sleep patterns, overtiredness may be the reason for his nighttime fussiness. Over time, as your baby misses more and more sleep, his sleep debt grows. And he eventually gets to a point where he’s so exhausted and overtired that he simply wails or fusses non-stop.
  • Overstimulation In most of our homes, daytime is far more stimulating than nighttime. There’s light and noise and loads of activity. And even though your newborn baby isn’t exactly participating in all that activity, she’s certainly witnessing it. All of that can combine to make her feel overstimulated, and that can cause her to fuss.
  • Tummy Trouble Gas can cause discomfort (as we mentioned earlier), and that discomfort can lead to some real wailing by your little one. And if you’re nursing, the foods you eat could be contributing to your baby’s tummy issues.
  • Nicole’s Note
    “In the Helpdesk, we are seeing more and more babies with dairy sensitivity, which can be passed from mom to baby through breastmilk. However, don’t be so quick to blame your milk. As soon as I was about to cut out dairy from my diet, my son got over the hump of his evening fussiness. Give your baby some time before assuming it’s your milk.”

  • Needing to “tank up” on milk Some experts have noticed that babies tend to “cluster feed” in the evening. In other words, they have far more frequent feeds in the evening than they normally do throughout the rest of the day, sometimes feeding once every hour (or more!). It seems like once they finish nursing, or taking a bottle, they’re crying for more within 30 or 40 minutes. Of course, this can be frustrating for parents, but experts theorize that babies may need to do this in order to sleep longer stretches at night. Often, babies who cluster feed will have their longest stretch of sleep after their cluster feeds are over. So that evening fussiness may be baby’s way of initiating some cluster feeds. For a more information on cluster feeding, take a look at this post.
  • Getting less attention When you think about what’s happening around your house in the late afternoon and early evening, what comes to mind? Do you have older kids who are coming home from school? Is your partner coming home from work? Are you in the kitchen, working to get food ready and on the table? Let’s face it — for many of us, late afternoon and early evening is a busy time. So busy, in fact, that it’s often hard to find enough time to hold and pay attention to your baby. I’ve heard so many parents lament this — “It seems like she waits to cry until I’ve just started making dinner!” Well, that’s probably no accident; you can’t exactly hold her with both hands and chop those vegetables, after all! And that could be the one of the causes of your baby’s evening fussiness — you might simply have less attention to give her in the evenings. Babies may get lonely, too.
  • Nicole’s Note
    “When I had my second son, I wore him in a sling while my older son ‘chased’ me around the kitchen. That gave both of them the attention they needed at that time of day. A bonus was my younger son would fall asleep in a mere 60 seconds in the sling. :)”

How to Banish Evening Fussiness

There’s no quick fix for The Witching Hour, unfortunately. It’s something that gets better with time (most babies outgrow it after 3 or 4 months), but how are parents (and newborns!) supposed to survive until then?

Here are some simple techniques that can help alleviate your newborn’s evening crankiness…

  • Focus on the sleep. If you know your newborn isn’t getting the sleep she needs, work to help her catch up on her rest. Read up on tips to get her sleeping better, and start laying a good foundation now so that she’ll be able to sleep through the night when she’s ready.
  • Hold your baby and walk/bounce/rock/dance/etc. For most babies, being held close to their parents and gently rocked (or bounced, or swung, or swayed, or some variation therein) is enough to calm them right down.
  • Wear your baby. This works the same way as the previous tip, but it provides the added bonus of leaving your hands free for other things.
  • Burp, burp, burp. If you do suspect that gas is the culprit in your newborn’s evening crying, be diligent about burping after feeds.
  • Change your diet. If you’re nursing, think about what you’re eating that could be triggering tummy trouble for your baby. Spicy foods, caffeine, and carbonated drinks may be culprits.
  • Recite your mantra. Repeat to yourself, “This too shall pass.” Write it on your bathroom mirror, if you have to — just keep reminding yourself that eventually, this will get better! Because it will. It always does. A few months from now, the fog will most likely lift, and those evening crying sessions will be a thing of the past. And thank goodness. A parent’s eardrums can only take so much!

What are/were the causes of your baby’s evening fussiness? Colic, or something else? Share your story!

Think your baby’s evening crankiness is related to a lack of sleep? Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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September Is Newborn Screening Awareness Month

Few things are more satisfying and heart-warming than holding your newborn baby for the first time. It’s wonderful to sit and drink in every rosy, flawless inch of your baby’s face.

But even babies who look and act perfectly healthy could have a potentially life-threatening disorder. The chances are very slim, of course, but they exist. Metabolic disorders, blood disorders, and heart disorders often don’t exhibit symptoms until days or months after birth.

That’s why, almost 50 years ago, hospitals in the United States began screening newborns for rare, life-threatening disorders.

Why are we talking about this today? Because September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month.

What is Newborn Screening?

Newborn screening tests usually involve a “heel stick” — the baby’s heel is pricked, and drops of blood are smeared onto a card. These blood samples are taken shortly after birth, usually within 24-48 hours.

The screening is designed to detect genetic orders that are treatable, but that aren’t easy to uncover (because they don’t have many, or any, visible symptoms).

What Does Newborn Screening Detect?

In the early days of newborn screening, doctors screened for just a handful of disorders. Today, however, newborn screenings around the country (and around the world) screen for close to 30 diseases and disorders. Some U.S. states screen for as many as 50.

The disorders screened include:

  • Metabolic disorders (these are disorders that destroy a baby’s ability to process and break down certain fats and proteins.)
  • Blood disorders (like sickle-cell anemia)
  • Other disorders (like cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, deafness, and heard defects).

Who Has Access to Newborn Screening?

In many countries around the world, everyone does. That’s the beauty of newborn screening — in many places, it’s a public health program, so it’s available to all babies. Costs for screenings are often very low, or even non-existent.

Newborn screening is considered so important that all 50 U.S. states require babies to be screened for around 30 disorders.

Newborn Screening is Still Evolving

This process of screening newborns for life-threatening illnesses is admirable. And if you’re like me, it makes you feel thankful your babies have access to this kind of preventative health care.

But the newborn screening process isn’t perfect. The program has been constantly evolving since it began 50 years ago. Over the years, more diseases have been added to the newborn screening tests, but there are still many that aren’t routinely screened.

The screening requirements also vary from state to state. There are a set of national standards (issued in 2010) that each state must follow, but the national standards require states to test for only 26 disorders. This is good, of course. But some states have gone above and beyond, and are screening newborns each day for close to 50 genetic disorders, while others screen for 30.

Baby Cora’s Story

This means there are some disorders that “fall through the cracks”. This was the case for parents Kristine and Ben McCormick. Their little girl Cora seemed perfectly healthy when they brought her home from the hospital, but at just 5 days old, Cora passed away.

The diagnosis? A congenital heart defect. At the time of Cora’s birth, no U.S. states routinely tested for heart defects, and many cases go untreated. However, since congenital heart defects are the single most common birth defect (affecting 1 in 125 babies), Kristine McCormick decided something had to be done.

She lobbied for pulse oximetry screening to become a required part of newborn screening. Pulse oximetry screening is a simple, non-invasive test that measures oxygen levels in a baby’s blood. And it’s effective; a recent study indicates that pulse oximetry detects 76.5% of congenital heart defects.

Today, two states (Indiana and New Jersey) require pulse oximetry screenings, and four more states will soon pass legislation to make it a requirement. And more and more parents, including those who live in states that don’t require it, are requesting pulse oximetry tests before they leave the hospital with their newborns.

There’s no way to know for certain if pulse oximetry would’ve saved baby Cora’s life, but experts are convinced that it will save other babies. And that’s good news for Kristine McCormick, who’s become a vocal advocate for newborn screening. She feels like advocating for more comprehensive, more effective newborn screening is a way to bring hope from Cora’s death.

“It’s a way for Cora to live on, too,” she says.

What have your experiences with newborn screenings been like?

For more information on what newborn screening is, and why it’s important, take some time to watch this video, called “One Foot At A Time”.

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Swaddling How-To And When to Stop

Swaddling your newborn to sleep can be very beneficial. Many people wonder if they can ever swaddle their baby like the nurses did at the hospital. I admit, my husband was better at making our little burrito than I was until we bought The Miracle Blanket. This article is your swaddling how-to, including deciding when to stop swaddling and how to stop swaddling.

Why Swaddle Your Baby?

The reason why you swaddle your baby is to make her feel like she did when she was in her mommy’s tummy. She didn’t have room to stretch out and, for months, found comfort in being tightly “held” in your belly and the movement, when you walked, lulled her to sleep. Harvey Karp in The Happiest Baby on the Block suggests that babies actually need more time in the womb (a fourth trimester), but if they had that time, they’d never get through the birth canal because their head would get too big, so swaddling extends the womb feeling for them. When they are first adjusting to this big, cold world (compared to your belly), swaddling helps a lot to keep them calm and relaxed (especially when they haven’t outgrown the moro / startle reflex where their limbs “jump” uncontrollably). You might also want to read more here for recent information about swaddling and tips to safely swaddle.

What if Your Newborn Doesn’t Like Being Swaddled?

Sometimes it appears your baby doesn’t like to be swaddled. This could be true, but sometimes, they are just so overtired and wound up that they resist the swaddle only because they are agitated and fatigued. It does not necessarily mean he doesn’t like it. After you swaddle your newborn, try swaying him and soothing him to see if he will calm down. My son loved to be swaddled, but at first he’d still cry once he was swaddled. Contrary to the video you’ll see down below, he did not calm down instantly once he was swaddled (just his personality). But, he did sleep better and longer once he did fall asleep and he was swaddled. If your baby just never calms down or if swaddling used to work and now it doesn’t, it might be time to stop swaddling. More on that later.

How to Swaddle Your Baby

It is pretty difficult to describe, in words, how to swaddle your baby. Some people call it wrapping up a burrito and if you’ve ever made a burrito, it is a little similar. You want to fold the bottom of the blanket over her legs and then wrap up the sides, so the “contents” don’t fall out. :) Better yet, let’s just watch a video on how to swaddle your baby:

How to swaddle your baby video –

When to Stop Swaddling

From my research, it does not harm your baby to swaddle them for months and months unless they are not getting free play time during the day. They need to be able to move their limbs to grow big and strong, so you don’t want them swaddled all day and night. But, swaddling while your baby sleeps until 6, 7, 8, and even 9 months is not unheard of and if your baby likes it and hasn’t learned to break free, this should be fine (check with your pediatrician for any doubts you might have about your own baby). Once your baby starts breaking out of the swaddle very often and especially when it becomes a hazard where she might suffocate with the blanket, it’s time to stop swaddling. The average age seems to be around 5-6 months. Again, all babies are different. We stopped swaddling sometime around 4 months with both boys.

How to Stop Swaddling

The most common method to transition away from swaddling is to swaddle with legs out, then one arm out, then to stop swaddling all together. Some swaddle one arm out, then both arms out and then stop swaddling. A baby who was once sleeping through the night may not do that while adjusting to sleeping without the swaddle. Keep in mind that it might take a week or two for her to get used to not being swaddled and getting used to having her limbs out. If her moro or startle reflex hasn’t stopped, it might be especially difficult and you might swaddle her again and try again a few weeks to a month later. Babies change very fast in the first year that something that didn’t work at one time might work great just two weeks later. You must be patient and give your baby time to adjust.

You might also want to read more about these two products that can help with the transition from a full swaddle.

Can you sleep train while baby is swaddled?

A common question is whether you should sleep train while your baby is swaddled. It never hurts to try to let your baby fall asleep unassisted, even while swaddled. Some babies simply will fall asleep within a few minutes when they are put down awake. Other babies (like mine) will not. So, in general, I do NOT recommend sleep training while your baby is swaddled, especially if you are using a variation of cry it out. Your baby needs to find a way to self-soothe whether it’s sucking on her fingers, thumb, or holding on to her sleep sack. But, if you put down your baby and he fusses or cries for 5 minutes or less and he’s swaddled, it appears you have a very good self-soother and you can continue swaddling and when he’s ready, you can probably stop swaddling fairly easily.

What if stopping the swaddle is not easy?

You’re in luck! This whole site is dedicated to when things don’t come easy when it comes to your baby’s sleep! Make sure you get your FREE guide and helping your baby sleep through the night, check out our Facebook Fan Page, or consider our baby sleep consulting services, where you can get a custom sleep plan for your family that you can feel good about.

How long did YOU swaddle your baby and how did you stop swaddling?

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10 Tips to Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep

When you bring your baby home no one tells you that “sleep like a baby” only lasts a short time. This article will give you 10 tips to help your newborn sleep better.

Disclaimer: Before I get to the 10 tips to help your newborn sleep, I thought I should note that it can be dangerous for a new newborn baby (just a few weeks old) to sleep all night. They really do need to eat at least every 3 hours in those early days so they can grow well and thrive.

It is also safest to place baby on his back to sleep, to guard against SIDS. You may be interested in other ways to lower SIDS risks.

There, now that I got that out of the way.

Newborn Baby Sleep

1. Short Wake-time

The first week or so, your newborn baby will most likely hardly be awake, but after the first week or two, the #1 key with your newborn is to keep wake times very short, at first. You should soothe your baby for sleep after just 1-2 hours of wake time TOPS. You should look for signs that she is getting sleepy and start soothing her. If you wait until she is fussy, cranky or crying, you are actually too late!

An overtired baby will have more trouble settling down and going to sleep and staying asleep. My boys always fell asleep easiest when I caught them before they started to fuss and cry. Some babies are much more sensitive to being overtired than others, so while others will barely notice their child get sleepy before she drifts off to sleep, others will begin to realize just how in tune with their baby they need to be!

By wake time, I mean to include feedings and diaper changes and disregard how long her last nap was. For example, little Suzie starts to nap at 8am and sleeps for 3 hours. She eats at 11am and you change her diaper. Now, it’s 11:30 and you decide to give her a bath. At 11:45, she is fussy. She is already overtired and she needs a nap! In the beginning, they can’t go long before getting tired and overstimulated.

2. Swaddle

To help mimic the feeling of the womb, it helps to swaddle your newborn baby. This basically means to wrap him up in a blanket like a little burrito. You may have seen them do it at the hospital. This helps him feel safe and secure and also helps him stay asleep during any moro reflex or startle reflex moments. It is said that those reflexes are similar to how we have the feeling we are falling while falling asleep. It can take up to 4 or 5 months for your baby to stop the startling.

I recommend The Miracle Blanket for swaddling. It is a little pricey, but so easy to use and so hard for your baby to break out of! So worth it, to me! If you can’t or don’t want to spend that much, try this SwaddleMe Wrap.

We encourage you to read these tips for safe swaddling.

3. Days bright / Nights dark

Although you might be tempted to keep things quiet and darker for your newborn to nap well, it might prolong the day/night confusion that almost all newborns will have. Day/Night confusion can last up to 6 weeks. When she was in mom’s belly, mom’s movements lulled her to sleep and when mom was resting, she’d have a party. When she comes out, she doesn’t know she should act in the complete opposite fashion.

So, keep days bright and upbeat and nights, dark and boring, and it will help your newborn sort out her days and nights faster. This might be more than you want to know, but light is what cues our eyes to tell us to stay awake or whether it’s time to sleep.

4. Limit naps

If he is taking longer to sort out days and nights (or you are having a very rough time keeping up with him being up all night), you can further speed up the process by limiting naps to no longer than 3-4 hours during the day. Read more here about newborn sleep patterns and schedules.

5. Post-feeding routine

To help your newborn baby sort out day and night sleeping even more, you may want to develop a play routine after she eats during the day. Keep her awake 30 minutes after feeding by playing, singing, bathing, etc. Again, the light stimulating her eyes will help her sort out that daylight is for being awake at least a little bit. Many people recommend the eat-play-sleep routine for newborns. This is the primary message of the popular book, On Becoming Baby Wise. You might want to read why Babywise may not be right for your baby, though.

6. Co-sleeping

Sometimes it helps to have your newborn in the room with you for quick access for middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes. This also can help give him more comfort being close by as he will be able to hear and smell you. For safety reasons, you should use a Co-Sleeper , sleep positioner, or bassinette, rather than have baby in bed with you. I used the second one with my second son and then I moved it into his crib for a seamless transition to his crib. We were able to remove it a few weeks later.

This article includes some tips for safe bed-sharing. You can also read more about the differences between co-sleeping and bed sharing.

7. Angle the mattress

For babies who spit up a lot or have reflux, it helps to angle the mattress when he sleeps, so baby is not flat on his back. You’ll want to angle the mattress so his feet are lower than his head, so his stomach contents can stay put. To angle the mattress, you can simply change the support platform level on one side on most cribs. If that is not feasible, you can put blankets and pillow under the mattress. Please note that the mattress should still remain flat at all times, just at an incline. You must make sure that you do not tilt the mattress so much that your baby slides down the bed, either. I strongly recommend that you first check with a knowledgeable health care provider to make sure that what you do is best and safest for your child. I only wanted to highlight the idea.

8. White Noise

White noise is made up of the sounds like a fan whirring, vacuum cleaner, hair-dryer, etc. It helps a newborn sleep because inside mom’s womb was all white noise. The sound of her blood flow, heart beating, etc. That’s why he finds comfort when you may run the vacuum cleaner. My son used to love when I turned on the blow-dryer. Of course, you can’t run the vacuum all day, so I recommend getting a White Noise machine, sound machine or a White Noise CD. I have two of the second one in each boy’s room so they don’t wake each other and they work like a dream! Read more about How White Noise Can Help Your Baby Sleep here.

Read here about some smartphone White Noise apps that can help your baby sleep.

9. Wear baby

For particularly fussy babies or just for parent’s convenience and snuggling, it helps to “wear” baby using a sling. They get very folded up in a sling, but again, it mimics the womb and babies love it! I didn’t use a sling with my first, but used a BabyBjorn Baby Carrier and loved it! It really helped me walk off the baby weight, which was a bonus. But, with my second, I did use this sling (there are many others!) and my son would fall asleep in less than 5 minutes until he grew out of it. This helped tremendously when I needed to cook dinner and do stuff with my toddler, at the time. I have also heard good things about the Moby Wrap and the Maya Wrap.

Here are ten reasons to wear your baby.

10. Swing

As I said earlier, mom’s movements lulled baby to sleep while in the womb, so I also recommend trying a swing, but don’t be surprised if your newborn only likes it at high speeds. Our family teased us we were making our first son “drunk”, but he just loved it going FAST and it was the only way he’d fall asleep in it! We used something like this swingto help him sleep (I don’t see the exact one I used anymore — guess I’m officially old now). My friend has the Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Cradle Swing and loves it. They didn’t have that when I was shopping for one!

Important Note: Some say it might not be safe for a newborn to sleep in a car seat, so be cautious about that. Some say it’s just fine.

Unfortunately, some of these tips do create sleep associations, but during the first weeks, you really do what you can to survive. Obviously, it never hurts to try to put your baby down to sleep without any of these “tricks”, but as I’ve probably said a billion times already on this site, it just doesn’t work for all of us.

For more product and site recommendations, please view my baby sleep resources page.

For additional information on helping your child sleep, you may be interested in our free guide, 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night or our e-Book, The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep.

Do you have any newborn baby sleep tips?

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