I need to preface this post with a HUGE disclaimer. Well, maybe a couple of disclaimers. First of all, every baby is obviously different. What sleep tips worked for mine might not work for yours and vice versa. I certainly don’t think I have all the answers. I am only hoping to give you some ideas that seem to have worked for me, just in case you haven’t tried them yet. Secondly, Charlie still isn’t a phenomenal sleeper. BUT. She is better than she was, and I give credit to these tips. My Charlie barely sleeps, sleeps very light, and wouldn’t sleep anywhere but our chests for the first six months. These came from a variety of message boards, books, websites, Facebook groups, and friendly suggestions. You name it, I have read it.
1 | Repetition
Every night I started doing the same exact thing. We don’t do baths daily, so at first when I was reading all the “bedtime routines” involving lavender baths and massage, I was like uhhh…. What if I don’t bathe her all the time?! Whatever. It doesn’t matter what the routine is. So long as you are doing the same thing before bed every night. For us, it was getting PJs on, sitting in the rocker in her bedroom, and humming the same song every single night. (It was Twinkle Twinkle, in case you were going to stay up wondering tonight.) This kind of repetition forms what they call “sleep cues”. Once she started to realize that rocking and singing meant sleep, it started happening faster and faster.
2 | White Noise
White noise SAVED me. I was a dummy and opted out of registering for those noise machines because I didn’t get what the big deal was and thought it was one of those extra unnecessary things that first time moms buy. WRONG. Starting from when Charlie was a newborn and cried A LOT, she would only calm sometimes by listening to a white noise app on my phone. It basically sounded like a loud AC unit. She would chill right out. When I started trying to get her to sleep in her room, I would just leave the humidifier on. I didn’t have a sound machine and it honestly has the same effect. Charlie is a very light sleeper, so this was key. The noise drowns out any other sounds in the house. Since I have a rambunctious first grader, it’s not exactly peaceful around here. The white noise was instrumental in getting her to sleep independently.
3 | Happy Attitude
This was something I read somewhere, I don’t even know where. Basically, the theory was that if we look really stressed out or sad or worried about them when we lay them down, they will directly reflect that behavior. It encouraged us to smile really big and act happy or excited about bed time. I am absolutely serious when I say that I know this worked for us. Even if she is drowsy and I lay her down and she jumps up and grabs the rails and starts to fret- if I walk backwards out of her room smiling and acting happy as I shut her door, she calms right down. She doesn’t associate it with being sad or scared.
4 | Reserving the Crib for Sleep
This is something else that I thought was a good tip. It kind of goes along with the sleep cues. I never put Charlie in her crib to play or to keep her safe while I do something, or for any other reason but sleep. This way, she is totally clear on what the crib means and, again, they need that repetition.
5 | The Perfect Sleep Sack
Sleep sacks are a thing that became popular when they stopped recommending that we put blankets in cribs with our babies to avoid SIDS. They are essentially a sleeping bag with straps to hold it on baby’s shoulders. Are you familiar with the Moro reflex? Check out this article that explains what it is and why swaddling is so important!