I read 6 books and tons of blog posts about baby sleep. I’m far from being an expert, I’m still learning and trying things with Sofia. Here’s a summery of things I learned.
Babies needs to sleep a lot, day and night. Don’t expect baby to be awake during the day and sleep at night as adult.
Short awake time. Making sure to put/help the baby to sleep within 1-2 hrs after waking up, which includes feeding, diaper change and “play” time. That’s the span of awake time babies can tolerate before getting overtired.
Look for signs of sleepiness. Put the baby down when you see three yawns or earlier. Sometimes babies keep their eyes open even though they’re getting sleepy. Their look is different than fully awake, they kind of look but not actually looking. Other signs of sleepiness is fussiness. Sofia would fuss a bit before going to sleep. Let her fuss, if she does not stop or fall into sleep within 10 min, try to sooth her to help her to sleep.
Pacifier is very helpful to make a sleepy baby to fall sleep. Many times if Sofia is fussing and can’t fall into sleep, I’d give her the pacifier and she’d fall sleep within 2 min.
Swaddling. Babies like to be swaddled tight because they were like that in the womb. They feel secure that way. Another reason is that their hands and legs are not their own for the first few weeks. They don’t control their movements, so sometimes when they move when sleeping, they’d wake up. Swaddling prevent that and make babies sleep better as they feel secure and longer.
White noise. Babies like white noise because that’s the womb environment. Use a white noise machine that runs continuously, not the sleep sheep (I have one) that turns off every 45 min. An iPod with some free downloaded white noise would work. It helps babies fall sleep and stay asleep. Another advantage is that you can still walk around and do things, and they won’t disturb the baby. I used to turn the white noise on at the night routine and my mom would turn it off later. And then I asked mom to keep it on for the whole night and Sofia slept better and longer.
Treating an overtired baby. Your priority #1 is to help her to fall sleep NO MATTER HOW. Because she’s overtired already, it’s harder for her to fall sleep by her own. So do whatever it works, rocking, walking around with her, swing, shushing, car ride, etc. It might be a lot of work for you, but remember a rested baby is a happy baby, which makes a happy parent.
Try let her fall sleep by her own little by little. I’m trying to let S to fall sleep by her own when I know she’s not overtired. It’s definitely getting easier as she gets older. However, if she’s overtired, she wouldn’t do it. If I let her alone, she’d cry harder.
Make sure your baby is not having gas or reflux problem because that will disturb their sleep and harder to fall sleep. Every baby has gas, make sure to burp her and get the burp. I used to burp her for 5 min, if I don’t get anything out, I’m dine anyway. Now I make sure I get the burp by trying different ways (on my lap, on my shoulder, walk, bounce). if you tell that she doesn’t have anything else to burp when she stops moving her body. Usually when she’s arching back I know she’s trying to get the burp out. If she has reflux, holding her upright after feeding for 20-30 min really helps. Reeled to reduce gas. If you have a good milk supply, feed her one breast at each feeding to make sure she gets a good balance of foremilk and hind milk. An imbalance of that can cause extra gas and green poop.
Babies are noisy sleeper. They make a lot of noise when they are in light sleep stage. Don’t run into them since you might actually wake them. Currently I wait 5 min, if she stops, I do nothing. If she doesn’t, I give her the pacifier. If she sucks hard and makes a lot of noise as shes not happy with the pacifier for 5-10 min, i give a snack. She usually falls into sleep right away after that.
Babies are light sleepers. They cycle into light sleep much more often than adult. The younger they are the harder is for them to catch up the next cycle without waking up. Therefore sometimes after 45-60 min of sleep, they’d wake up a bit and often fall sleep again. If you rush to pick them up, you’d wake them up completely.
The first 6 weeks their sleep length is short and irregular, anywhere from 30 min to 3 hrs (usually at night). Some babies might even have day night confusion. Whatever you do to set up on a schedule, it’s almost useless. Starting from 6 weeks, their night sleep gets longer stretches.
Sleep training, or better said trying to put them into a flexible schedule , can be started at 3-4 months.
Other topics that I’ll get deeper into it when time comes:
Sleep regression (around 4 months)
Dropping night feeding (the 2-3 am one)
Hope this post helps some new moms who don’t have time to read about baby sleep and needs some tips, and mom-to-bes to prepare them for what they’re about to experience.