Firstly, let me say every new parent is bound to ask themselves, “how do I get my baby to sleep at night!?” I don’t know any parent that says their baby was just a great sleeper from the start! Our little ones need our help to make sure their environment is just as comfortable on the outside, as it was on the inside. Read on for 3 major mistakes my husband and I made in the beginning, and how we fixed them with help from our friends at Sleep Authorities.
Reality hits. How do I get my baby to sleep?
The day we brought our son home from the hospital, we were dazed and confused. (Read my amazing birth story here). We both looked at each other with complete joy and awe and said, “Now what do we do?”. As new parents, we have no idea what to expect until we are thrown into it.
All in all, we settled in for our first night at home. We tried to remember what we learned in our Newborn Care Class, and what the nurses said. Who can remember any of that stuff?! I was completely clueless on how to get my baby to sleep at night. We put our son to sleep next to us in his bassinet and hoped for the best.
Surprisingly, night one and two wasn’t bad. I think most babies sleep okay the first couple of days. Finally, my son began to realize he was in a new world, and everything changed. The constant crying, awakening every hour (at least), and sleep deprivation, we had no idea what was going on! My husband was literally driving around for an hour just to get my son to stop crying. Then when he got home, he would swing him back in forth in the car seat until he stayed asleep! This went on for what felt like eternity. Our days, nights, weeks were all in a blur. So, what the heck was going on? What was I doing wrong, and how do I get my baby to sleep at night?
3 Major mistakes when trying to get my baby to sleep.
Obviously, we were doing A LOT wrong! Here are some basic DO NOT’s if you want to prevent yourself from swinging your newborn in a car seat for hours.
- The first and biggest mistake is not swaddling. We thought our son liked his arms out since he kept trying to put them above his head. What we didn’t realize (because we apparently didn’t pay attention in Newborn Care Class), was babies have a startle reflex. You NEED to swaddle your baby. If you don’t, your baby will not sleep at night. Simple. This is why my son loved the car seat, and couldn’t sleep in the bassinet. He felt cozy and secure in the car seat.
- Next is nursing and letting him sleep in my arms. Big no no. It is okay for newborns to nurse and fall asleep. However, try and prevent your baby from nursing to sleep in your arms at night. This is what they will expect as their main sleep environment. Try and tickle their feet while feeding. Then put them down to sleep. Your baby should be aware they are no longer in your arms as they fall asleep.
- The last big mistake we made was turning on the bright lights. Not necessary! When you change their diaper, try try try to use your cell phone light or dimmers. The bright lights will make them super alert, which means your baby will not go back to sleep at night.
12 hour stretches
I want to point out, we made these mistakes for almost 6 weeks. I finally looked at my tired self in the mirror and asked myself one last time “How do I get my baby to sleep at night”?. My husband said to me “We can’t do this anymore”, and initiated full blown baby sleep research. Our saving grace was Sleep Authorities, and these tips and tricks really helped us get our baby to sleep at night.
Yes, you read that headline correct. We finally got our baby to sleep at night! For 12 hours! Not once, but for months. The day after my husband did his research, we implemented some major changes thanks to Sleep Authorities, no more car seat swinging. Check them out!
- Putting to sleep awake
- Keeping the room dim at all times
- Room darkening for night time sleep (brighter for day time)
- White noise machine. Keep it on all night and loud
- If they do get up, don’t engage. Hush them back to sleep
- Set a bed time routine. We do bath, change, story, nurse, sleep.
Pure bliss! Or is it?
Lastly, I will just add that babies go through transitions. The 4 month sleep regression was real for us. It definitely threw us out of our pattern of no night feedings (I caved to my weakness. Don’t be like me). We got back into a good routine again when I traveled for work, and my husband slept trained him into no night time feedings.
However, with teething and nursing strikes we are back to frequent wake ups and night time feedings. Keep in mind that your babies sleep will go in cycles. Anyone that tells you different is lying! However, with experts like Sleep Authorities, you could be sleeping again in no time!
Once you finally get some sleep, your world seems a bit more clear. However, just know that getting your baby to sleep at night is a journey!