Baby sleep problems… mean mommy sleep problems! But good news, there are daytime solutions for nighttime problems.
Babies are naturally more likely to be asleep during the day. They’re rocked to sleep with every step their mama takes when they’re in the womb.
Pregnant women commonly notice that their babies are more active and moving around when they lay down or sleep!
When baby is born, they keep the same routine by waking frequently during the night. There are ways to combat the issue though, and some of it even has to do with feeding your baby!
Baby Sleep Problems: Tips
When babies are between newborn and 6 months old, they’re lulled to sleep by anything that reminds them of the womb. A good routine can help your baby form good sleep habits.
1. White Noise
A baby in the womb constantly hears soothing noises from their mom’s body. When she breathes in and out, her baby hears every breath. Each heart beat send blood coursing through her body that swooshes around the baby. When mom’s stomach gurgles, baby hears that too.
Noises outside the womb sound drastically different to the baby than what we hear. Since the baby is floating in amniotic fluid, the noises sound like something we would hear while underwater. The noises are muffled, and combined with the sound of mama’s body they combine to give a very soothing background sound.
There are all sorts of white noise machines out there. Most range from around $10 to $50. There are even portable ones if you want your baby to catch a nap in their car seat or stroller! Some machines offer many different choices for noise, others only make one sound. I assure you it will make sleep times easier.
2. Darkness And Movement
Darkness paired with movement simulate the womb along with white noise. They are extremely helpful for lulling a baby to sleep. Blackout curtains can be a good investment to make a room dark during the daytime.
Moms tend to naturally develop a rhythm of rocking their baby to sleep. The good old rocking chair was born out of the knowledge that soothing rocking movement helps babies sleep.
Some babies will sleep longer if they have a constant rocking motion – there are bassinets made to rock through the night which might be beneficial for some babies.
This age old tip is fantastic for soothing your baby and encouraging sleep. Over time, the way to swaddle babies has changes and there are actually different opinions on how best to do it.
Previous advice was to swaddle babies’ arms down by their sides. This prevented the baby from waking up with their startle reflex – when they jump after hearing a loud noise. More recent advice is to swaddle your baby with their hands close to their mouth.
Babies are able to self-soothe and may fall asleep more easily when their hands are close to their mouth. Your baby should only be swaddled until they can roll over. Otherwise, they might roll over on to their stomach and not be able to turn back over. It can be dangerous if your baby is unable to breathe against their mattress.
It’s s important to start a routine early! Certain things start becoming habit very young so I recommend starting a routine as soon as possible. During the newborn stage, it’s important to keep nighttime quiet with little stimulation.
If your baby wakes in the night, don’t talk to them or turn on bright lights (a small nightlight should give you enough to see without rousing your baby). Interactions should be kept as short as possible. Feed your baby, change their diaper if needed, and put them right back down.
How Does Food Affect Baby Sleep?
The amount of food a baby gets during the day can affect whether they sleep through the night. “Sleeping through the night” typically means the baby sleeps for a stretch of 5 to 6 hours in a row.
It’s important to note that babies should not be expected to sleep through the night until they weight at least 10 pounds or are around 2 months old!
If a baby doesn’t eat enough during the day, they will often wake more at night to make up for it. Many babies will feed more in the evenings in anticipation for a longer stretch at night. If the baby isn’t fed as much as they’d like during those feedings (called cluster feedings), they’re likely to wake throughout the night to eat.
Daytime Solutions for Baby Sleep Problems
1. Feed Your Baby!
Make sure that your baby has enough opportunities to feed, and enough time during each feeding. If your baby is nearing 3 months or older, they may be too distracted during the day to eat as much as they should.
Try feeding them before and after nap time or in a dark, quiet room with few distractions. Try to catch your baby’s hunger cues and feed them when you notice they’re hungry. Giving ample feeding opportunities during the day may prevent baby sleep problems at night.
2. Don’t Let Baby Take Naps Too Long
If your baby has stretches of sleep during the day that are 5 to 6 hours long, they aren’t eating during that time! Your baby needs to eat at least 8 times per day so if they have long stretches without eating during the day, they’ll make up for it at night.
After your baby has slept for 3 hours, quietly rouse and feed them. You can even rouse them after 2 hours if they’re a newborn. Watch for hunger cues (rousing, moving around, bringing their hands to their mouth). Wake them to eat. If they take in a good amount of milk and fall back to sleep, that’s great! Just don’t let them go too long without eating.
3. Feed Them At Certain Times During The Day
In one study, mothers were instructed to feed their babies at 10 PM and midnight. They then changed baby’s diaper, swaddles and rocked them back to sleep with minimal light and noise. The mothers that followed this routine for the first 8 weeks of life had babies that slept through the night from midnight to 5 AM… 100% of them!
Of the mothers that didn’t follow the routine, only 23% slept through that time!
If you’ve tried all of these things, it might be time to talk to your pediatrician. Sometimes frequent night wakings are caused by pain. It could be from teething or an ear infection. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re concerned.
4. My Best Advice: The SNOO
After 2 months of difficulty sleeping, my husband and I were beside ourselves. We started looking into what we could do and learned about the SNOO. It was created by Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician who saw a need for a special bassinet.
The SNOO simultaneously rocks, swaddles, and offers soothing noises for your baby to lull and keep them asleep!
We went from around 3 hours of sleep a night to between 6 and 8 when my daughter was 10 weeks old. It was HANDS-DOWN the BEST investment we’ve ever made (and it’s 40% off for military!) It comes with a pretty hefty price tag but they have options to rent for only $3.50 a day. Trust me… it’s worth it!
Check out their website www.happiestbaby.com to see the miracle.
*We are not affiliated in any way with the SNOO – it just worked wonders for us, so I recommend it to everyone!
Kealy Hawk, BSN, RN, CLC
Kealy is a Registered Nurse, Lactation Counselor, and most importantly a mommy! Her own baby feeding struggles gave her a passion to help moms throughout their feeding journey. She specializes in breastfeeding support and evidence-based formula recommendations. To talk with Kealy or take one of her breastfeeding or formula classes, visit https://littlebearcare.com.