I am no expert in newborn sleep, I wish I was, but I’m picking up all sorts of tips and tricks second time around that I thought I’d share with you.
It is no secret that new parents are seriously lacking in sleep, we think we know what we are getting into when we are expecting a baby but when reality hits in those first few weeks it can be quite overwhelming. In fact, it’s not about the lack of sleep but the broken sleep that can really get to you. Second time around, I feel like I am handling it a lot better as I think I was more prepared for what was to come, but also Barney seems to be sleeping a little more than Alfie did in the early weeks – so far anyway.
We have done a few things differently this time, but it could be due to a variety of things, like Alfie was born in a seriously hot August, it was hard for us to sleep let alone a newborn, he had reflux, he was a smaller baby, etc. Obviously, it’s still early days and if I’ve learned one thing in parenting, it is to not get complacent and never ever talk about good sleep because you will be punished by the sleep gods. But here are some of the things I have done differently this time around which I feel may have helped with a little more shut-eye for us all:
We have used white noise from his first night at home with us. This clever little gadget plays 24 different relaxing sounds, we have listened to the sound of breaking waves in our room since bringing Barney home and actually I find it really relaxing too. It genuinely does seem to work, I have occasionally used it when I have wanted to have a shower and it definitely seems to calm him.
I never swaddled Alfie as it was just so hot that he slept in a nappy for the first few weeks of his life but we have tried swaddling Barney from the get-go and some nights it seems to work and it helps to control those little arms from flying around the place. Other nights he gets frustrated and wiggles his arms up and out somehow. The jury is still out whether this is helping him sleep but I am sticking with it for the time being.
Barney is in a next-to-me crib which is one with a side that can come down. He is therefore really close to me and I’m sure he can smell me (and my milk). When he knows I’m close by, he settles so much more easily than Alfie ever did after a feed at night, who slept in a Moses basket.
Change Then Feed
Barney gets quite sleepy when he is feeding so he often doesn’t make it through a full feed before dropping off. So in the night I have been changing his nappy before a feed or even mid-feed to make sure he stays awake for a full feed. This helps him do a longer stretch of sleep as he is more full. It’s so tempting to not disturb him and allow him to fall asleep whilst feeding, but in the long run waking him up with a change of nappy really does help.
I am holding Barney upright after his feeds, even if he falls asleep, just to help settle his tummy if he does have any wind. I think I am just so scarred from having a refluxy baby last time that I want to make sure I am doing everything to help his tummy. I make sure I have a big bottle of water by my bed, and I can always tell what kind of night I’ve had
by how much I have drunk by the morning. Keeping hydrated not only helps with my milk supply but it also helps me to stay away during the feed. I have never been a night-feed snacker but I do get really thirsty. I tend to go on my phone to help me stay awake too. I find interesting things to read or watch and often make my way through my DMs and questions from you guys.
Barney is sleeping in our room still, but we so love the Nanit monitor for Alfie that we have got another for when Barney is in his own room. When the time is right, I will start to do some of his naps in his room, to get him used to it for when he eventually transitions to sleeping in there overnight. The Nanit gives you a birds eye view of the baby which I love and also provides you with all the insights of their night. I am a bit of a geek with all that, I love to know the specifics of his sleep and feel so pleased when it says Alfie fell asleep in 1 minute or there were no night visits. So far we have no routine, and I’m actually enjoying the freedom that brings, but I know that soon I will be keen to have a little more structure to our day. I will start to watch for awake windows and look out for Barney’s sleepy signals so I can try to get him to nap at the right intervals for him.
I worked with Heidi from The Parent & Baby Coach for Alfie’s sleep and will be getting her advice again when the time is right. It’s great to have an expert to help and ensure you are doing everything that you can in order to maximise sleep for the whole family. Baby sleep is such a minefield and just when you think you have it nailed your baby will change their routine and remind you who is boss. So if you take anything away from this blog post, let it be that we are all in it together, we are all exhausted, and when you do get a good night’s sleep, wallow in whilst you can. I can tell you that if you are really struggling, this phase won’t last forever and slowly but surely you will get longer periods of sleep back again.