What do moms with babies who are good sleepers do or know that you don’t? Believe it or not, there are some secrets all these moms have in common.
While you’re dreaming of sleep in the wee hours of the morning, there are moms tucked into their beds snoozing soundly. Some of them will enjoy close to a full night of rest before they’re awakened by the hungry cries of their babies. We’re not talking about moms with overnight nannies, but moms lucky enough to have babies who sleep well.
Do you want to know their secrets? We dug up 10 of them to help you out.
Top 10 Secrets of Moms with Good Sleepers
1. Allow your baby to learn the skill of self-soothing.
If your baby is at least five months old, many experts believe that they have the ability to soothe themselves back to sleep if they wake up at night. Most babies don’t develop or use that skill because they are constantly soothed by someone else.
You can help your baby develop the self-soothing skill even before five months of age by putting them into the crib or bassinet partially awake. Once you see signs of drowsiness, it’s time to let the baby rest alone. The baby will then soothe themselves the rest of the way to sleep.
Your baby may fuss at first, especially if you have been soothing them all the way to sleep multiple times each night. Give this approach some time because your baby will need to learn that they can calm themselves. Consider it the first act of teaching your baby a little independence.
2. Get all adults in the household on the same page.
A screaming baby at 3 am can impact every member of your household, even if you’re the only one who has to get up and figure out how to calm the cries. If you feel alone in this adventure or you argue with your partner over how nighttime issues are handled, now is the time to call a meeting and get on the same page. When you join forces to implement a schedule and routine, sleep training the baby becomes less overwhelming for everyone involved.
This secret works for several reasons:
- It’s easier to remain consistent with a bedtime strategy if you have the support of your partner or another member of the household.
- Your partner may have sleep-related ideas that you would have never considered on your own.
- Your baby will see that you’re a unified force that acts as one.
3, Make bedtime an official routine.
Even if you breastfeed on demand and allow your baby to decide the flow of your day, many parents swear by a bedtime routine that never changes. That often includes a bedtime schedule, and some will go so far as to only allow their babies to rest between designated hours. The more you schedule naps, the easier you may find it to keep your baby to the nighttime sleep schedule.
Bedtime routines can include baths, diaper and clothing change, story time, singing and other soothing activities. The key is to do these activities in the same order around the same time every night. You may extend the routine into the night by deciding how you will handle it when your baby wakes up before you’re ready to start a new day.
Some of your options may include:
- The “cry it out” or CIO method. Simply let your baby cry until they go back to sleep. This is often a heartbreaking approach for parents, and many believe that it instills mistrust or a sense of neglect in the baby. Every parent must make that decision for themselves.
- Comfort your baby in their crib or bassinet, but don’t pick them up.
- Soothe your baby vocally through a baby monitor with video and audio features.
- Pick your baby up and put them back to sleep through rocking, pacing the floor or other motions.
4. Make bedtime early.
Did you know that most babies will sleep longer if they go to bed a bit early? Try sticking to a bedtime closer to 7 pm to see if this trick works for your little one. If you’re scheduling sleep throughout the day and night, you may find that your baby is naturally tired late in the evening anyway.
5. Give your baby more naptime during the day.
It may seem counter-intuitive to allow your baby to sleep more during daylight, but this is the secret for some parents. If you’re too stingy with the daytime naps, you may have an overly tired baby come bedtime. If you’ve ever tossed and turned half the night after spending most of your day exhausted, you know that being too tired can work against you when it is time to sleep.
That doesn’t mean that babies need to sleep on demand throughout the day. You may find it beneficial to implement a schedule, even if it is a loose one. If you already tightly schedule your child’s day, perhaps you need to open up another naptime or extend an already scheduled nap to see if it has a positive impact on nighttime behavior.
6. Don’t always associate crying or fussing with a need for attention.
It’s normal for new parents to rush to their baby’s side at the sound of a whimper or light cry. You want to know that your baby is okay, but most parents start to decipher their baby’s noises and what they mean within the first couple months of life.
Babies are like adults in that they don’t necessarily sleep soundly all night long. They may become more aroused at times, but that doesn’t mean that they need assistance. If left alone through the small noises, many babies will fall back to sleep without parental guidance.
You may awake each time your baby does this, and you may find it uncomfortable at first if you’re accustomed to the mad rush to see what’s wrong. Give it some time, and you will learn what noises require attention and what noises are just your baby maneuvering the sleep cycle.
7. Question your baby’s diet.
Is it possible that your baby is eating something that doesn’t sit well with his tummy? If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, perhaps you need to tweak the feeding schedule so that your baby is more satisfied at night. If your baby is old enough for cereal or solid foods, maybe they have a sensitivity to one of the foods you think they enjoy. Taking notes on how your baby acts after eating each food may help you identify the culprit. You can then eliminate that food for a couple weeks to see if it makes a difference in how your baby acts and sleeps.
8. Don’t allow your baby to nap anywhere and everywhere.
Most parents know the struggle of tiptoeing through a room because the baby has finally fallen asleep. It seems natural to let the baby rest when they finally give in, but some parents have better success with nighttime sleeping if they pick a designated sleep area. The baby will learn to associate sleep with that room or area of the home, which can trigger their sleepy side whenever you enter that zone.
9. Invest in a few sleep accessories for the nursery.
You probably already keep the nursery quiet and dark, but what else can you do to set up the perfect environment for sleep? Adding one or two accessories to the room may help, including a cold-mist humidifier and a white noise machine. Your baby may also enjoy soft classical music or other selections instead of the white noise.
The position of a nightlight may impact how well your baby sleeps as well. Some babies feel more secure with a bit more light, so consider leaving a closet or hallway light on at least until your little one falls asleep. Play with the environment because one small tweak could make a big difference.
10. Make it a nightly sleepover.
Not all secrets to improving sleep for a baby are complicated. Some parents simply decide that sleeping with their baby is the best way to encourage sleep while providing comfort and a sense of security all night. There are a few ways you can implement this sleeping arrangement:
- Allow the baby to sleep in a bassinet or crib close to your bed.
- Put an extra bed in your baby’s room and sleep there each night.
- Bring the crib into your bedroom.
- Allow your baby to sleep in your bed with a safe co-sleeping cushion.
Sleeping in your baby’s bedroom may seem like an inconvenience now, but it’s the easiest option in the long term. Instead of convincing your baby to sleep in his own room later, you can simply start skipping nights with your little one or exiting the room before he wakes up. Thinking of the long-term is important when setting new bedtime routines.
There are a lot of factors that may determine how well your baby sleeps at night, including age, daytime sleep habits and environmental factors. Our list of baby-sleeping secrets touches on many of the variables that are within your control. Use these secrets as a guide to find what might help your bundle of joy snooze a bit more.