As a new mom, you’re most likely dealing with exhaustion, depression, breastfeeding hurdles and to top it up a baby that won’t sleep or sleeps less? Now that’s a lot to handle!
Adequate sleep is important for a baby and a new mom. When you become a mom, your baby sleeping becomes the new happy hour. It’s most likely the only breathing space you’d get. Ouch!
However, unknowingly as new parents we screw it, thus, less sleep for everyone! New mom, baby and every living thing in our home. Fortunately, if you ever made these mistakes, I’m here to help you fix it!
That said, what exactly is the problem and how do FIX them?
1. Breastfeeding with the lights on at night
I was very fortunate to have gotten fore knowledge about this before baby arrived. Newborns are unable to distinguish between night and day so as a mom/ new mom, it’s your duty to teach them that the night time is for sleeeeping not playing. When I was a new mom, I’d use a warm light to help the baby latch. With time, I realized I don’t even any night at all to help the baby latch. Babies can find the nipple! They know the nipple that feeds them.
Using the phone touch also helped for a while but I realized the urge to check social media was strong, ruining my own sleep in the long run.
Turning on lights to breast feed interrupts the cardiac rhythm and reboots the whole sleep cycle!
2. Diaper change times at night
As new parents, we were passionate about a forever clean bum! We worried about a lot of things including nappy rash. I had heard many stories about how distressing it could be for babies. So we resolved that diaper changes must happen by all means! It was a mistake. This may be an unpopular opinion but unless there’s poop or a really wet nappy, nappy changes need not stress you or the baby.
I wear one size up diaper for the baby at night and change it before I sleep or breastfeed her around midnight. The change has become so seamless that she sleeps through.
3. Trying to put the baby to sleep during your fav TV show
Who else has watched TV whilst breastfeeding with the hopes that they baby would fall asleep? Yep! I’m guilty too. If you’ve never done this, please don’t judge the rest of us. Although your baby may fall asleep some of the time, it’s not best practice. The sound and light from from the TV can a be a distraction and disrupt your baby’s sleep.
4. Over stimulation before bedtime
What happens when you’re sleepy and someone actively engages you? The sleep disappears at least for me! A similar thing happens when babies are actively engaged particularly after bath time. That’s why it’s important to do activities that are calm not rigorous leading to bedtime.
5. No bedtime routine
Babies thrive on routine. Having an established bed routine for your baby helps them to sleep better and also to quickly settle in when it’s bedtime. Having a bedtime routine means, consistently doing the same activities at the same time time before the baby sleeps at night. A bedtime routine may include, bathing time, lullabies, bedtime stories.
6. Ignoring your sleepy baby cues
Your baby will always let you know when they are sleepy. So, you have to watch out for the cues. If you ignore the baby’s sleep cues, your baby will in turn punish you. They will get restless, fussy and cranky. Some of the common “I am sleepy” cues babies give include:
- Rubbing their eyes
- Slowing down their activities or movement
- Yawning (writing this just made me yawn)
- Mini cries
- Staring into space
- Clenched fists
- Refusing to feed
When your baby gives you I’m sleepy cues, what should you do? Give them a calm environment so they can sleep peacefully. If you’re outdoors, wear them in a baby wrap. Helps a ton and puts them to sleep.
7. Picking the baby up immediately they cry
This means no chance to self soothe. I remember my mom and mother in-law would rush to the pick the baby at the slightest sound! This was their first or almost first grandchild so you can’t blame them! Babies dream, and they make sounds and stir as they sleep. Picking up a baby immediately they cry can actually wake them up and it may take a while to get them back to bed. If you’re unsure if your baby is really awake or just dreaming, count up to about fifteen seconds before bursting into the room. In fact, do not burst into the room, but open the door gently unless it’s a distress cry.
8. Not feeding enough during the day
Babies need a specific amount of calories per day (usually based on their weight – source). If your baby does not get his required amount of calories, they will wake up consistently to complete their calorie intake at night or during nap time. If you have need for breast milk to enable you feed more, check out this post.
9. Sleeping late does not mean waking up late
I’m really guilty of this! There was a time I deliberately tried to put my baby to bed a little later than the usual time with hopes that she would wake up at a later time as well. It was a disaster. Until children are much older this does not work!
10. Attending to a discomfort or need a little too late
While you do not want to rush to your baby’s side at every sound, there are times you need to need to check on your baby and address their discomfort or need right away! That way, your baby can go back to sleep easily.
11. The discord
Imagine you were busy trying to sleep but next door neighbor was equally busy having a party! With loud music, people shouting, and occasional bowels of laughter. What is most likely to happen? I’m sure you get my point.
Some families are guilty of putting a baby to sleep then forgetting there’s a baby next door! When a baby is sleeping, there should be a sync in the entire household. This does not mean no one should breathe or talk. It simply means everything should be done in consideration that there is a baby sleeping.
12. No swaddle, lose swaddle, tight swaddle
It’s common knowledge that babies love swaddling! Swaddling helps babies sleep for longer stretches. However, if your baby is crying too much when swaddled, it’s possibly because they have been swaddled all wrong! Maybe a little too tight or lose or possibly they have grown out of it.
13. Allowing zero sunlight and noise
As indicated earlier, babies need help in distinguishing between night and day. It is not ideal to allow zero sunlight and noise because, you end with baby who wakes up at the slightest provocation (a little bit of sunlight/ noise).
14. Not enough stimulation during the day
Like most of us, babies get bored when they are left with nothing to do! As a parent, you have to engage with your baby during the day by reading to them, playing with them, going for walks, tummy time. A well stimulated baby will be exhausted and ready for bed by nighttime. Does your baby receive enough physical and mental stimulation during the day?
15. Not knowing how much sleep babies requires at each stage
A lot of new parents worry about how much sleep their babies are getting- it being too little, or too much when in actual fact it’s normal. Have you ever checked on your sleeping baby to be sure were are breathing? Yes? When you are really concerned about how much sleep your baby is getting, do check with a pediatrician because hopefully, it’s probably nothing!
When in doubt, listen to your instincts. Nobody knows and loves your baby better than you Mama! If you have made any of these mistakes, do not be too hard on your yourself. We all do!
Which mistakes are you familiar with? Any additional sleep tips for newborns?
Don’t forget to share with a new Mama or a mom to be!