Possibly one of the most annoying things to be told as the parent of a newborn is: “sleep when the baby sleeps!” If only it were that easy! As anyone who has ever dealt with a newborn knows: young babies sleep in 2-3 hour chunks (if you’re lucky) and have a particular penchant for middle-of-the-night wake-ups.
None of this makes it easy for parents who actually need a solid eight hours to be normal functioning humans the next day. So what can you do? Before your baby is old enough for formal sleep training, the answer is: not much. Babies are hard-wired to be up around the clock in the early months in order to ensure they’re getting enough to eat. But, there are a few key gadgets that can make it a little bit easier.
A swaddle sack:
While swaddle blankets may be adorable, what no one tells you is how annoying it is to try to reswaddle a tired cranky baby at 2 AM. Skip the swaddle gymnastics and go straight for a sleep sack, at least for nighttime sleep. The right sleep sack will depend on your baby’s age and sleep preferences. Some will be useful just for a very specific period of time (0-3 months for instance); others will grow with your baby as she transitions out of the swaddle and into a wearable blanket. You may need to try a few before finding the one your baby likes.
A white noise machine:
Nothing is worse than just getting baby to sleep only to have the doorbell ring, or a dog start barking next door. Keep baby blissfully unaware of interruptions by getting a white noise machine for her room. You can get fancy with a white noise/night light combo or keep it more low tech. There are even portable options for helping baby snooze on the go. Some sleep experts suggest that because the womb is a noisy place, babies respond better to white noise than to silence. Yours may even prefer a heart beat sound similar to what she heard in the womb versus straight white noise.
A night light:
Most sleep coaches recommend baby’s room be dark — like backout shade dark. But a room that dark makes it hard for you to check on your little one in the middle of the night. Plus, for those midnight feedings, you need some light. The trick is finding a night light that sheds just enough light so that you can see what you’re doing, but not so much that baby thinks it’s time to party. Remember: you’ll be down one hand at least (the hand that’s holding the baby) so you need something that’s easy to use, which likely isn’t the flashlight on your phone.
A breathable crib mattress:
As adults, we know that, when it comes to sleep, the mattress itself can make all the difference. So why not apply that line of thinking to choosing a mattress for your baby? A breathable crib mattress has many benefits, most notably the fact that they can cut down on the risk of suffocation/SIDS. The breathability also helps keep your child’s body temperature where it should be, which also means: no more sweaty backs!
A video monitor:
New parents have a tendency to rush to baby’s room at every peep, which is totally normal. But a video camera not only makes it unnecessary, it helps you see in real time whether your baby needs you or is simply making noise in her sleep. It can be especially helpful at night as a way to check whether baby is really awake and ready to eat or simply fussing.
A temperature sensor:
Babies, like adults, are sensitive to their sleeping environment. Too hot or too cold and baby might be uncomfortable, particularly if dressed too heavily or too lightly. Overheating is also a risk for SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. To ensure baby’s room is just the right temperature for sleep, it can be helpful to get an indoor temperature sensor for her room. An ideal room temp for baby is somewhere in the range of 68-72 degrees, a bit warmer than what’s recommended for adults.
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