What a strange new world we have found ourselves in. We’ve all heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a baby”. So, what happens when we are forced to physically distance ourselves from our village?
Parents are being put under a lot of pressure to take on many roles with very little help. It’s at this time that sleep is so important, not only for our babies but for us too.
Being able to achieve a good night’s sleep is so important for our physical and mental health.
So, here are my five top tips for being able to achieve better sleep for your baby (and therefore you) during isolation.
1. Set up the perfect sleep environment
Where your baby sleeps can have a big impact on their quality and quantity of sleep. Luckily, their sleep environment is one of the easiest aspects of their sleep to change.
Block out any light entering the room where they sleep. This might mean adding an extra layer under your curtains or blinds if there’s still light creeping through. Our sleepy hormone, melatonin, is only produced in the dark, so a dark room is your best friend at nap time, and early in the morning as the sun rises.
Play white noise. White noise is a great settling tool for newborns as it mimics the sounds of the womb. It’s also great for drowning out the sound of noisy siblings.
Dress your baby in a swaddle or sleeping bag for all sleeps. This becomes a positive sleep association. As soon as you pull out the swaddle or sleeping bag your baby will know it’s time for sleep. It also has the added benefit of keeping your baby warm without the need for blankets.
Find out more about creating the perfect sleep environment.
2. Follow an age appropriate sleep routine
This doesn’t need to be a strict structured routine where you watch the clock. Knowing how long your baby can stay awake between naps and before bed means you will be able to settle them to sleep before they become overtired.
Also, babies thrive on predictability. If you can keep a similar rhythm to each day your baby will know when it’s time to eat, play and sleep. This is so important when we are stuck at home and each day starts to feel like Ground Hog Day.
Day sleep and night sleep are closely related. If your baby or toddler is having too much or too little day sleep their night-time sleep will be fragmented.
Sleep begets sleep. Making sure your baby is having age appropriate naps with at least one long nap during the day will prevent them from becoming over tired which is the biggest culprit for disrupted night sleep.
On the flip sided. If your newborn sleeps too much during the day they may have their day and nights confused and can end up being awake most of the night.
Check out my complete Feed and Sleep Routine Guide (3 weeks -3 years) here!
3. Get outside
This is not only great for encouraging better sleep, it will also do wonders for your sanity. Exposing your little one to natural light during the day, especially in the mornings, will help entrain their circadian rhythm. It will also aid the production of serotonin which is converted to melatonin when you put them down to sleep in their dark room.
Serotonin is also known as the “feel good hormone”, so there’s no wonder why getting outside for a bit of fresh air makes you happy.
If your neighbourhood is participating, why not go on a bear hunt?! The kids will love it. Take a different route each day to discover new bears hiding.
4. Bedtime routine
Don’t underestimate the power of a good bedtime routine. This is a lovely time to relax and unwind with your baby or toddler after a long day. Having a consistent routine which you do every night allows them to prepare for a good night’s sleep. Your bedtime routine doesn’t need to be long or elaborate. Depending on the age of your baby or toddler 10-30 minutes is all you need to have a bath, story time, cuddle and sing a lullaby before getting into bed.
5. Find some time for YOU
I know this might be easier said than done when you are stuck between four walls with your children day in, day out. But finding a moment each day to do something that is just for you to unwind and relax gives you something to look forward to. This might just be a walk around the block or a hot shower at the end of the day once everyone has gone to bed.
We can’t pour from an empty vessel. Our children pick up on our feelings, so if we are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed this can start to impact their ability to unwind and sleep well. So, don’t forget to take care of yourself during this time as well.
If you have just brought home a newborn and are feeling a little overwhelmed, my Newborn Sleep E-book is a complete guide including everything you need to know about surviving the first 12 weeks. Download and ready to use immediately.