Learning how to put a baby to sleep often requires some practice. Whether you’re a new parent or awaiting your little one’s arrival, it’s normal to have more questions than answers about your baby’s shut-eye. To the rescue: Christina Gantcher, one of Maven's Sleep Coaches and the founder of Good Night Sleep Coaching. Here’s a round-up of Christina’s top 5 tips from our webinar, Secrets to Baby Sleep.
Make feeding a priority
You already know that establishing healthy feeding patterns is important. But you might not know that eating and sleeping go hand in hand. In other words, feeding issues could disrupt your baby’s ability to get the sleep they need. If things aren’t going smoothly, talk to your pediatrician or book an appointment with a Maven lactation consultant for some guidance.
Create the right sleep environment
Babies love routine, and that includes having a predictable place to conk out. Once you establish your baby’s sleep space, make sure it meets these three criteria:
- It’s quiet.
- It can be made dark.
- It’s free of toys, blankets, and pillows (that’s important for your baby’s safety).
Put a tired baby—not a sleeping baby—in the crib.
Common wisdom says: Wait till your baby is sufficiently drowsy (a.k.a. almost asleep) before moving them to their crib. Christina’s advice? Watch for cues that your baby is getting tired, but don’t wait until the deliriously drowsy moment to put them down. This technique helps babies learn to put themselves to sleep. Of course, you can stay in the room with your baby until they doze off, gently patting their back and offering comfort and vocal reassurance.
Know that sleep time isn’t one-schedule-fits-all
One of the most common questions Christina hears from parents: “How many hours should my baby sleep?” Her response: There are general guidelines to follow depending on your baby’s age and how much they nap during the day. (See the cheat sheet below). During the first several months of life, a baby’s sleep schedule will change from day to day because they haven’t developed a Circadian rhythm that makes them tired at night yet. “But ultimately, if your child seems rested, that’s more important than the actual number of hours logged.”
Remember, your sleep matters, too
While it can be tempting to catch up on life, throw in a load of laundry, or respond to emails when your child is sleeping, try not to neglect your own shut-eye. Extreme sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of postpartum depression. The lesson here? As much as you can, sleep when your baby sleeps. Sharing nighttime baby duties can also help—try to divide and conquer if you have a partner or family member who can take shifts with you. New birthing parents who are breastfeeding can pump so their partner can give a nighttime bottle to the baby, giving them some much-needed time to sleep.
Have more sleep questions? Talk to an expert on Maven.
Book an appointment on Maven to video chat with a Maven sleep coach. They can help you develop a personalized sleep plan and tackle any issues that are getting in the way of baby’s (and your) rest.
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