For every mom who claims that her baby slept through the night from day one (suuuure), there's one at the grocery store who is so tired, she forgot to put on a bra. New moms: You are not alone. To help you and your little one earn the much-needed shut-eye that you both so deserve, we share some of our favorite sleep tips, tricks and facts.
A Is for Avoiding Eye Contact
The last thing you want to do right before bed is excite your baby. Prolonged or animated eye contact with you is one of the most stimulating things for your little love. So, avert your eyes when you're putting him to sleep or calming her when she wakes.
B Is for Bath Time
Calgon, take my baby away! Warm water, combined with soft, loving strokes with a washcloth, can relax just about anyone. Forgo the squirt toys, and keep voices and activity low to make bath time a soothing experience for your little one.
C Is for Co-Sleeping
Whether you're for or against co-sleeping, studies show that children who co-sleep with their parents grow up with higher self-esteem and less anxiety. To co-sleep safely, place a co-sleeper or bassinet next to your bed. (The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend actually sharing a bed with your baby.)
D Is for Dreamfeed
If your baby is the type that wakes at night hungry, a dreamfeed might help. Coined by Robert Bucknam, M.D., in On Becoming Babywise, the term dreamfeed refers to a parent-directed, late-evening feeding. Instead of waiting for her to wake up hungry, feed your baby before you go to bed, while she is asleep. Some believe the extra feeding fills her belly just enough to earn a bit more uninterrupted sleep.
E Is for Empty the Crib
Cute decor elements are just that¬-cute-but safety is way more important. Keep the sleep surface free of everything but the cutest thing in the room, your baby. Blankets, bumpers and stuffed animals can be hazardous, increasing the odds of suffocation or choking. A fitted sheet is all he needs on his mattress. If you're worried about warmth, try a sleep sack instead of a loose blanket.
F Is for Fragrance
Some little noses can be lulled to sleep with the scent from a drop or two of natural lavender oil on a tissue near the bed. Although lavender and other essential oils are known for their relaxation and anti-anxiety benefits, fragrances are not recommended for children less than 6 months old. So for those too young as well as those with sensitive skin or noses, forgo the fragranced tissue and try an unscented laundry detergent when washing crib bedding to reduce discomfort.
G Is for GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a commonly undiagnosed medical reason why some babies have problems sleeping. Caused by a malfunction in the muscle where the esophagus meets the stomach, GERD results in acids being drawn up into your baby's esophagus, causing pain. Symptoms to look for include spitting up, colic-like fussing, wheezing, choking or gagging, and feeding problems. If you have any concerns about GERD, check with your pediatrician.