Ok – I have a lot to say about one of the hottest topics of your baby’s first year (or two)! One of the hardest parts about having a newborn is the complete and total exhaustion. I wish I could say that I found a magic bullet or a miracle swaddle that will make this phase easier. Unfortunately, I just have some information on each of the sleep stages and phases and want to tell you that it will get better. Eventually. Here is a roundup of all my top tips on how to get baby to sleep – from infancy through toddler-hood.
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I’m not a medical doctor or sleep consultant, but I am a mom who didn’t sleep for a year who is now gearing up for round two. We did some things right and some things terribly wrong when it came to our baby’s sleep the first year. Now that I’ve been through it once and am preparing to go through the newborn phase again, I wanted to share everything I’ve learned about baby sleep. If that gives me any street cred at all, I’d like to pass along all the info to you!
This post is a resource roundup of all the information I’ve compiled on baby sleep. It will take you to multiple different posts and sources of information, so don’t forget to pin it now so you can always find your way back to the original page!
What does sleep look like with an infant?
For most of us, it isn’t pretty. I wrote an article when I first started this blog about the next level exhaustion that comes with parenthood. I share a few tips on how to get more sleep.
The tips aren’t novel, and may be easier said than done. However, if you can take a nap, or alternate morning sleep with your spouse on the weekend you’ll catch up a little on some of those much needed ZZZs.
Mainly – this phase is all about holding onto your hats because shit is getting real.
If you want to know more about how long and how often your baby is supposed to sleep, read the article above. I have tips in there on how frequently your baby should be eating, as well as how much daytime and nighttime sleep you can expect by age.
I also talk about the myth that your baby won’t sleep just because you’re breastfeeding.
Spoiler: It IS true that breast milk digests more quickly than formula. It’s not true that your baby is waking up 5x a night at 10 months because she needs to eat. Don’t let any well meaning friends or family talk you out of breastfeeding because they’re just “sure” you’ll get more sleep.
Are you seeing a pattern here? I’m all about getting more sleep. I love to sleep. It’s one of my favorite things. And not getting enough of it was absolute torture during the early months. No, I still haven’t found a magic swaddle, but I’m trying out another new one soon so here’s hoping!
I review a few swaddles and sleep sacks in more detail in the post, but here are a few of the good ones for reference:
The Halo SleepSack Swadde:
Swaddle Me Multipack of Swaddles:
Anna & Eve’s Swaddle Strap
This is the only one we ended up using long term for our daughter. She could houdini her way out of literally everything else.
Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets
We didn’t end up using these a lot for sleep because our daughter could get out of everything, but they were awesome to swaddle her up and cuddle, or to put on top of the swing or car seat when she was sitting down. While I can’t claim that these will help you get more sleep, they were one of our most-used baby items.
As a new mom you’re probably sitting beside your baby watching her sleep, terrified of all the sounds and squeaks she’s making. I can totally relate. Even if you CAN actually get time to sleep, you’re petrified that the baby won’t wake up.
I wrote an article on ways you can reduce baby’s risk of SIDS and make sleep safer. It’s all detailed in the link above, but here are the cliff’s notes version if you want to skip onto the next.
- Always put a baby to sleep flat on her back
- Ditch the swaddle as soon as baby starts to roll
- Don’t let baby sleep on the couch or a soft surface (especially with you)
- No co-sleeping in your bed with fluffy comforters and pillows
- Avoid sleeping in any plush device that could possibly obstruct breathing (looking at you couch)
- No bumpers in the crib. Even the mesh ones haven’t been tested to be safe.
- No blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals in the crib
- Use a firm sleep surface with a tight-fitting sheet
- Share a room (but not a bed) with parents for the first six months
- Avoid baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol, or drugs, and never allow them to sleep in bed with someone who has taken any type of sedative
Sleep Troubles & Infant Sleep Regressions – oh my!
I think back on the four month sleep regression as one of the most terrifying moments in my life. I’ve never been more petrified of the night time or convinced a human could literally collapse from exhaustion.
In the post I detail what happens during the four month sleep regression, why your little love has suddenly stopped sleeping altogether, and what you can do next.
I also add in a few tips on how to survive, but this is another hang onto your hat moment in the sleep phases.
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Unfortunately, the four month sleep regression isn’t the only one. For us, it was by far the worst. I don’t actually even know if we really “regressed” during these other phases. But, since they’re real – and since every baby is different, it’s a good resource to check out.
If you want to know your possibilities of sleep loss, and what’s happening during each of these phases and sleep milestones, check it out. If you prefer to be in the dark and just take your chances, keep scrolling.
All about Toddler Sleep
Unsurprisingly, the sleep issues don’t always end the minute your precious little hits a year old. A lot of them follow you into toddlerhood. For many people (including us) this can manifest with ridiculously early wake ups. I’m talking 5-6 a.m. regularly. While many people are totally content with getting up at 5 a.m. forever, I’m not one of those people.
We needed something to keep our daughter in bed, and the OK to Wake clock saved our weekends. Check out the post below on what we did to keep our little lady in her crib (not crying or whining) until 6:45.
Here’s a link to an awesome OK to wake Clock. Full transparency, we’re getting the first one for our second daughter and haven’t tried it yet, but the amazon reviews are fantastic and the features look great. I’m particularly excited to have one gadget that’s a nightlight, sound machine, and ok to wake alarm clock. I am using an older model for our first (linked in the post) and am sharing a similar one to what we’re currently using below as well.
Hatch Time to Rise Nightlight, Sound Machine & Alarm Clock
Little Hippo Ready to Rise Trainer
Finally – one of the last sleep milestones of toddlerhood is nap consolidation and then dropping naps altogether. This is another rough phase. Not because you’re up all night, but because you’re likely dealing with a child who is a bit of a terror during the day.
For so long after our daycare switched our daughter to one nap we struggled on the weekends to keep her awake. We couldn’t leave the house or be in the car after 11 a.m. or she would pass out, ruining her afternoon nap.
So many times we’d want to leave the house but realize we were in a nap zone and just couldn’t go anywhere. At that point she needed to get a longer stretch of sleep so we didn’t want to risk missing a nap completely.
Find out when your toddler is ready to drop a nap or stop napping, or if she’s just fighting through a phase and still really needs the sleep.
All of these sleep challenges and transitions can be difficult for different reasons during infancy and early toddler-hood. I hope you found this post helpful and got some tips that will help you get more sleep – or at least sanity.
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