Sleep.  I crave it like a juicy Five Guys Hamburger.  I need it, I want it, but like many moms, I don’t really get it as often as I’d like.  (Sleep, not the delicious hamburger.)
Today, for the first time in a few weeks, I actually feel well-rested.  We’ve been going through our own sleep issues right now, so it’s amazing what an extra 2 hours of sleep can do for you.  Though,  I won’t say that too loudly, I don’t want to jinx it!

Fact:  On average, babies fuss about 74 minutes a day.

Dr. Jen TrachtenbergThere are many reasons behind mom’s lack of sleep, but often, a new baby is at the top of this list.  Even though my child is beyond the baby days, with all this lack of sleep that’s been going on, it’s so fitting that I was able to sit in on an event to listen to Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg talk about something so relevant.  The renowned pediatrician and author of Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children, Dr. Jen offered some invaluable tips and insight on sleep and nighttime routines.  Here are a few things that she had to say about baby and my old friend, sleep:
My are notes indicated with star-pink-32x32

  • Nighttime routine is very important;  I can’t stress that enough, she said.  It needs to be done consistently, on a day-to-day basis.  It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but more of a daily routine. It’s not a schedule she says, but more of a routine.
  • Not only is the nighttime routine important for the kids, but Dr. Jen says transitioning yourself to nighttime from daytime is really important–turning down the lights, turning down the tv, make it quieter, playing nighttime music such as classical or softer tunes.  In the baby’s room, close the blinds so that baby’s sleep isn’t disrupted by light.  Natural sunlight is known to wake up baby, Dr. Jen says baby should wake up on his own terms.
  • Also check the room temperature.  Babies sleep better in between 68-72 degrees.  Too warm or over-layering the baby can make the baby too hot, thus more fussy.  It’s great to have a fan in baby’s room for many reasons.  There’s new research showing that circulating the air can reduce risks for SIDS for babies.  It also has that white noise effect and drowns out other noises, making it easier for baby to fall asleep. Fans are simple, economic alternatives to those white noise machines out on the market.
  • Good nighttime routines typically start with a bath.  It’s a great time to bond and talk to baby, Dr. Jen says.
      star-pink-32x32 After not having much luck with our initial baby tub, I have to say, Munchkin’s inflatable safety duck tub is the most versatile baby bathtub out there.  It’s portable, inflatable, soft, easy to clean and does the job.  Not bad for $10.
  • Dr. Jen recommends moisturizing the baby right after the bath.  Lotion is a great way to help with massaging the baby.  Baby massages–usually slow circular motions–after the bath is another great time to bond, as well as time to wind down and get ready for bed.
  • going-to-bedQuiet nighttime activity, reading is always recommended.  Dr. Jen says it’s never too early to start reading to your baby.  Starting with a board book that is easy and only has a few words on the page.  Eventually, babies start to respond to rhyming and then inflection in your voice, Dr. Jen says, then reading becomes reciprocal with the anticipation of page turning and when the book is about to end.
      star-pink-32x32Our personal favorite nighttime book is Sandra Boyton’s Bedtime Book.  It’s a short and sweet story about animals aboard an ark that are also preparing for bed.
  • After the quiet activity, ultimately, it’s time for bed.  Dr. Jen recommends putting the baby to bed when she is sleepy, but still awake;  ideally, they should still be arousable but drowsy.  This is important so they learn how to transition from your arms to the bed.  According to Dr. Jen, this is so important for babies so they learn how to fall asleep on their own, and ultimately, sleep through the night.
      star-pink-32x32If they don’t know how to fall asleep on their own or are used to falling asleep with help–rocking, feeding, etc.–they won’t know how to fall asleep without that help when they wake up in the middle of the night.  Dr. Jen confirmed exactly what I kept trying to tell my mom who was big on rocking/singing when putting Jack down for a nap and the occasional bedtime all of those months.  It was so helpful at the time, but unfortunately, Jack never slept through the night until a few months ago (which is a distant memory for now and our current battle!)
  • Dr. Jen is a big proponent of swaddling.  When you swaddle the baby it makes them feel cozy and warm, just like they’re in the womb, but it also decreases the startle reflex they have as newborns, she said. Some moms say that their baby likes to sleep with their arms out, but studies show that babies sleep much better and stay asleep when they are swaddled.  Receiving blankets do the trick, but there are great innovations out on the market equipped with velcro and other things to help with this.star-pink-32x32
    The NYT recently provided some information on the “right” way to swaddle.  We started out with several Kiddopatomus Swaddle Mes which were awesome, but Jack grew so quickly, that by the second month we were miracle_blanket_step11looking for the next size.  Recommended by a good friend, I ended up buying a Miracle Blanket which ended up being one of our best newborn gear investments.  There was no Velcro, just more soft fabric to wrap.  I ended up using it until he started to roll over (around the 5-month mark,) which is when pediatricians recommend to stop swaddling.  If you decide to swaddle your baby, the Miracle Blanket comes highly recommended!

      We’ve probably heard or read some of these pointers along the way,  but hearing her actually say it all was that much more reinforcing. Here’s hoping that all of you, including baby, get the sleep you want/need/crave!