Simple Sleep Hacks and Strategies to Try When You Are Struggling With Sleep Challenges
I have to admit, I struggled to name part 3 of this post. Why? We know that infants are made to wake frequently by design. The concept of “sleep hacks” might lead one to think that solving sleep challenges is an easy fix. It’s not.
The reality is that when you aren’t getting sleep, things get rough. Even though we know that night waking is normal, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do. Everyone needs a little help sometimes.
Firstly, I recommend thinking carefully about any challenges you are facing and how it affects your family. Secondly, come up with a realistic goal that you would like for your family’s sleep routine. Consider what your needs are. What needs to happen to help you and your baby sleep better? Then, you can take your goal and work backwards to choose some strategies to try with your baby.
Sleep Hacks – Gentle Sleep Solutions
- Infant Massage: Incorporate a simple infant massage into your baby’s bedtime routine. This can help your baby wind down for the evening and supports the bond between baby and caregiver.
- Swaddling: If your baby sleeps beside your bed in a bassinet, try using swaddle at night time. This can help prevent your baby from startling themselves awake and can provide calming comfort.
- Laying of Hands: After setting your baby down in their “sleepy space” (see part 2), place your hands on them with reassuring pressure until you see them relax back to sleep. Slowly release your hands one at a time until you can pull both away without waking baby.
- White Noise: Using a simple white noise or sound machine can be helpful for your sleep routine. White noise helps recreate the comforting sounds of the womb that your baby has been used to.
- Consider Temperature: Babies may develop a preference for night time temperatures and clothing. Consider whether baby is getting too cold or too warm at night.
- Health Concerns: You may want to consider if your baby has any health concerns that could be causing consistent night waking and challenging sleep patterns. Specifically, oral ties can cause breathing issues in babies. Work with your pediatrician to rule out any health issues.
- Comforting Scent: Some babies need the safety of their parents’ scent in their sleeping space. You can place one of baby’s crib sheets in your bed for a night to transfer some of your scent. When you put the sheet back on, your baby feels that you are close because they can smell a parent in their space.
- Increase Daytime Calories: Sometimes older babies are so busy playing and socializing during the day that they tend to drink less milk in the day time and then become hungrier in the evening and night time.
Routine Based Hacks
- Avoid Letting Baby Become Overtired: Overtired babies have a more difficult time winding down to sleep. Start your sleep routine as soon as your baby shows sleep cues to avoid the overtired state.
- Consider Routine: What is your night time routine like? The shorter the better. You can get your baby ready for bedtime right after dinner. Later, at the time you are putting them to sleep, make that routine as simple as possible. It could be quick rhyming/song/story, bottle/nurse, place in crib asleep. Avoid an overly complicated routine right at bedtime. Some common parts of recommended bedtime routines are too overstimulating for some babies. For example, my babies and even older kids go NUTS for bath time. It is high play time in my house. I would never use bath time to help them get sleepy unless I wanted to tire them out! But, many other families find baths relaxing.
If you are still struggling, your postpartum doula can help you by providing some new strategies to try as well as hands-on support to help you implement them.