As the mother of five, I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade to get at least a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. (Plus, I’ve finally got a baby who sleeps well!)
1. Have realistic expectations
A few years ago, I discovered the works of Elizabeth Pantley. As an attachment parenting kind of gal, her writing resonates with me.
Babies aren’t manipulative demons out to ruin our evenings. They are helpless souls entrusted to us, dependent on us for their care.
When you bring a baby home from the hospital, your nights of solid sleep are over, at least for a while. Tiny babies need to eat frequently, so they’re going to require a lot of your time and energy.
Start while you’re pregnant, to try to minimize the other demands on your time while your baby is small. Cut back on commitments and try to prepare now for baby’s arrival.
Try stocking your freezer with meals or ordering extra household items you need. Planning ahead can save you time and stress.
2. Get your husband involved
Sit down and chat with your husband. Even though he’s not able to breast feed, there are many ways he can help out and reduce your stress level.
Ask him to change the baby’s diaper in the middle of the night before he brings the baby to you for a feeding. Encourage him to give the baby her evening bath, so that you can have a few moments to yourself. Baby wearing by fathers warms my heart and helps dads and babies bond.
These little things mean so much to me and let me know that my husband and I are on the same team. Brett has taken over many nights when I’ve been at my wits end.
3. Check out the resources
My favorite books for baby sleeping tips are The No Cry Sleep Solution and The Happiest Baby on the Block.
I’m not going to let my children cry it out, so these books are full of tips to help babies achieve a restful sleep.
I’m not sure why it took me until my 5th child to learn the value of swaddling. I don’t recall doing it at all with Abby, and only sporadically with the Kennedy Kaboodle.
This time around was different. On the advice of my friend Lisa, I splurged and bought Aden+Anais swaddlers. They are huge and so easy to wrap up a squirmy baby. My big kids like to swipe the blankets and wrap up their stuffed animals!
Swaddling seemed to help Maeve’s reflux. When she was fussy at nighttime, even laying her on the blanket, about to be swaddled, calmed her.
Some cons? You may miss some feeing cues like stretching or baby putting hands to his face.
5. Have a routine
Around here, we do a bath and put Maeve into her pajamas. If she’s amenable, we hang out with the big brothers and sister for storytime. Other times, she just wants to snuggle in my arms and fall asleep.
Even if I give her a bath during the day, like after a particularly messy lunch, it’s not uncommon that she takes a nap soon afterwards. Something about the water soothes my children and makes them sleepy.
6. Swinging and Swaying
Most babies love to be rocked, either in your arms or in a swing.
Borrow a swing from a friend first before you commit to a purchase. My girls adored their swings, but the boys detested them.
A good rocker or glider is a necessity for your nursery. My current glider has made it through 4 children and is still going strong.
7. Co-sleeping, bed sharing or rooming in
I never intended to have my children sleep with me. Instead, it’s happened as a natural progression and sometimes the only way I can catch any rest.
With Maeve, we have our pack n play set up right beside the bed. When she was tiny, I’d sit in bed and nurse her to sleep, then burp her and place her in the PNP. During the middle of the night feeds, it was easier to lie down bedside her and nurse, which ended with both of us falling asleep.
Nowadays, she prefers to sleep right beside me. This works for our family, but may not be the right choice for yours.
If you choose to have your baby sleep with you, please be sure you’re following these safety tips.
8. Is the baby uncomfortable?
If your baby is fussy and you can’t figure out what’s wrong, do a process of elimination.
Gas pains? How about some gas drops or change in position for burping.
Diaper check – Maeve gets downright mad if she’s in a poopy diaper too long these days.
Hungry? Nurse or give the baby a bottle. Some babies may want to comfort nurse or need a pacifier.
In my early days with Maeve, one of my dear friends recommended Dunstan Baby Language DVDs for me.
Oh, my word.
I wished I’d had this when Abby was tiny. This amazing DVD helps you decipher your baby’s cries. I was skeptical at first, but quickly learned the difference between a hungry cry and a ‘I need to burp’ cry.
9. Make some noise
I don’t sing worth 2 cents, but my children don’t seem to mind. They’ve all enjoyed hearing me sing them to sleep. If you can’t come up with any good lullabies, try Pandora or Spotify.
Another option is a white noise machine. The womb is a noisy place. Your quiet house may seem a little disconcerting to a little baby.
10. Make a change
Some babies are comfortable no matter how you lie them down, while others are very picky. Even when Maeve was tiny, she preferred to be held upright, high on my shoulder, to help her belly.
Her other favorite position? The football hold, perfected by her daddy. All my children have loved this, but only when Brett holds them this way.
Try baby wearing on for size if you’ve got a wee one who won’t sleep. Maeve enjoys being in the Baby Bjorn with Daddy or Ergo with me. After about 30 minutes, she’s sacked out.
What’s YOUR favorite tip? Have I missed something that works for you? Be sure and share your ideas in the comment box.
You’ll see me linked up lots of linkups to share the love!
This post contains affiliate links.
Routine routine routine. With all my babies I have found some semblance of a routine was crucial. Also, I always introduced the new routine with their naps first, including putting them in their crib for the first time. Oh my, I can not stress routine enough!
And it doesn’t have to be a long one! I just turn on my wee one’s star gazer light and she knows it’s time. Heck, she looks up at the ceiling when we walk into her room at night and the lights are out. It’s her thing, and it takes me 3 seconds.
Dianna Kennedy says
I agree that routine helps …. and another tip I forgot to mention is putting the baby to sleep when she’s sleepy!
Many tips, babies are giving us sleepy cues – yawning, rubbing their eyes, etc. We try to do ‘one more thing’ and miss a window of getting them to sleep easily.
Aaron never slept through the night until puberty. I swear. John, even though he had a painful surgery when he was four weeks old and was a total wild thing while awake, was always a good sleeper. Why? WOOBIE. That’s what we called his blanket. Soft in the middle, silky trim. I put it in his hands every single time I laid him down to sleep from the day he was born, and just the touch of this blanket would make his eyes droop. I swear it was an almost narcotic-like effect. We kept Woobie in use for as long as he needed it, and I still have the tattered remnants in my cedar chest.
Dianna Kennedy says
It makes me laugh that Aaron is so laid back, yet was your difficult sleeper. I assumed it would be John.
How could I forget the Woobie stories??
I stumbled upon your blog while Googling half marathons. I see those blogs are 2 years old so I played around and read more about you. Just thrilled to see “find” an attachment oriented homeschooling half marathon running mom like myself. Breastfeeding and co-sleeping are my forever go-tos for helping my babies (4) sleep.
And I think #1 is the key–how many new moms think motherhood is rocking in a chair sipping a cool drink while the baby sleeps and wakes peacefully whenever we wish. That’s what it looks like on TV and in books. Knowing that your life as you know it is over and won’t ever be back for me was essential in my transition to motherhood.
Thanks for a great list!
Dianna Kennedy says
Thrilled to see you stop by!
Ahem — yes, the half marathon posts ARE two years old, but I’m in the midst of training again. Getting back on the road has been difficult for me – you’ll see me sharing my thoughts about that soon.
It certainly sounds like we have loads in common — you probably have another one of my mantras memorized — “It will only be a small bit of time in the grand scheme of things.” Looking at this picture of Maeve in this post, even, amazes me. She seems so so tiny, and that was only a few months ago.
Hope to see you stop by again!
For sure doing half marathons requires commitment and for me, for a long time, taking care of my family was priority and I’m sure it is for you too. Are you doing shorter races? Those are easier to train for but are still fun. I did my first half in Feb and have a 10K and a 5K over the summer and then the Philly Half in Sept, then a 10 miler in Oct and then another half in Nov. We’ll see about the half in Nov though, I may be too tired by then. LOL
They are small for just a short time…I think too often people forget to just enjoy their children. Homeschooling has been such a wonderful blessing in that we have been able to enjoy them so much more.
Oh, I also forgot to mention that babywearing is a great way to get babies to sleep and be calm. I’m glad you mentioned that in your list. I used the Mayawrap Pouch and sling with my first 3 (they didn’t have those fancy Ergos and stuff then) and with my last I used a Storch woven wrap and loved it. I wore him on my back and took walks and just went everywhere. We have pictures of me wearing him on my back on the London Eye and at Machu Picchu. I also think babywearing helps the baby get more in tune with mom and is more likely to pick up mom’s sleeping patterns.
I will for sure be checking back! Let me know what races you are doing and I’ll be sure to be praying and rooting for you.
With each child I’ve learned something about getting them to sleep! With the last two I was especially diligent about nursing them until they were almost asleep then laying them down with their special blanket to drowse off on their own. I did this from day one and even when number three was in the hospital for five weeks at two months old and couldn’t be nursed he would still fall asleep. Number 4 is ten months old now and will ask for his “Eeyore” and make snuggling noises when he is tired…K