by Sherri Morris
Labor and Postpartum Doula
Family sleep is a huge concern for new parents. The KEY to getting your newborn baby to sleep longer and better is to mimic the sensations they experienced in the womb. As a postpartum doula for many years and newborn sleep educator, I have tried many products on the market. Some products have stood out to me as beneficial for most babies and may help your newborn sleep better as well.
Newborn babies love to feel secure and swaddling is one way to mimic that feeling of being back in the womb. There are many different swaddling products on the market, or you can use an old-fashioned receiving blanket to swaddle your baby. My favorite method to swaddle babies is the Houdini Method, which is easy to do with blankets you already have at home. However my absolute favorite swaddle, The Miracle Blanket (miraclebabyusa.com/), is a swaddle that utilizes the Houdini Method. It may be a little tricky to figure out at first but once you get the hang of how to use it correctly babies will feel comfortable and secure. Instructions for use of the Miracle blanket can be found in this YouTube video.
Many people believe that newborn babies need silence and those around them need to be very quiet while baby is sleeping. Parents are often unaware that babies generally sleep worse in quiet rooms because the womb was a very noisy place. Your baby has become accustomed to the sound of your blood rushing through the placenta, the gurgling sounds of your belly and intestines and the thumping of your heartbeat. If a newborn baby is sleeping in silence the very startling noise of the dog starting to bark, a doorbell ringing or someone dropping something onto the floor will usually wake them. White noise will drown out those sounds and usually babies will sleep blissfully through the most jarring of noises. Most white noise machines on the market are not quite loud enough in my opinion to get babies to sleep, but at their loudest setting are perfect for when baby is asleep. To remedy this, 2 white noise machines can be used simultaneously until baby falls into a deep sleep or you can download a white app onto your phone and increase or decrease the volume as your baby settles. My preference is an app called “White Noise Baby” which has many different types of noises to use with your baby and for you to find the one that works best. I have found many babies prefer the pink noise setting which is slightly higher in pitch than white noise.
Your baby spent 9 months comforted by the noises and closeness of the womb. Once they are born, they are jarred by the brightness of this world. To encourage your newborn baby to sleep better and longer, a very dark room is comforting. Adults and older children might like a little light to make us feel secure while sleeping. Newborn babies can be stimulated by light while falling asleep or if they wake during the night. Use black out curtains or blinds (or both!) on your windows, covering or taping over any areas where light might awaken your baby, so that your baby will enjoy total darkness while sleeping.
While in the womb babies are lulled by the gentle movement of your daily activities. Have you even noticed while you were pregnant with your baby that their most active time was just as you were settling in for sleep at night? It’s no coincidence that when your movement stopped your baby woke up and decided to make their presence known! Babies love movement and are usually calmest when being rocked in your arms or in the swing, bounced gently over your shoulder or a baby carrier, or gently jostled in their stroller or their car seat while you’re driving. To help babies fall asleep and stay asleep longer movement and vibration is so beneficial. So, grab your carrier and wear your baby during naptime or spend some time rocking your baby to get them to sleep. A great newborn carrier I love is the Moby Wrap (www.mobywrap.com/shop/all-wraps) and when babies outgrow the Moby I like the LilleBaby soft structured carrier (www.lillebaby.com/collections/carriers). Dr Harvy Karp, author of two of my favorite books Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Baby’s Babies Guide to Sleep, shows his method to calming babies with movement in this YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB2Fw3MFlhk
Sleep close to baby
Sleeping close to your baby has many benefits for both baby and parent. Newborn babies were used to spending every moment, safe and secure, close to their mother when she was pregnant. Babies do not realize that they are a separate being from their mother thus any far separation can cause babies to become stressed and unsettled while sleeping. The AAP recommends babies sleep in the same room with their parents for at least 6 months and ideally a year to help prevent SIDS. For parents, sleeping in the same room as their baby will allow for more sleep as they can quickly respond to their baby’s nighttime needs and makes overnight feeding much easier. There are many bassinets on the market to choose from. Some parents set up a pack and play in their room or even the baby’s crib, while others prefer a stand-alone bassinet. My favorite bassinet is the Snoo Smart Sleeper which features many of the calming techniques Dr. Karp suggests parents use to help babies soothe to sleep (https://www.happiestbaby.com/products/snoo-smart-bassinet). Although the bassinet is pricy the company often offers significant discounts on the Snoo and renting the Snoo is always an option as well.
For more help
If you are desiring more sleep for your family a postpartum doula can help! Postpartum doulas are available for daytime and overnight support to care for your baby while giving parents the opportunity to nap or have a full night’s sleep. Please see our website at http://www.cnydoulaconnection.com/postpartum-care.
If you are concerned about your baby’s sleep or want to learn more about how to help your family sleep better, visit my Infant Sleep Education and Support page at http://www.cnydoulaconnection.com/sleep
What are your favorite products to help your baby sleep better and longer?
The CNY Doula Connection's doulas write all about birth!