New Parent

How to Help Your Baby Develop Good Sleep Habits

At best, most newborns don’t sleep more than two to three hours at a time, day or night. A newborn’s nutritional needs and developmental maturity won’t be ready for a full five to seven hour stretch for a while. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t start helping your baby develop good sleep habits. By creating a healthy, safe sleep environment and planting the seeds of good sleep habits, you’ll plant roots for a lifetime of high-quality sleep.

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A Safe Sleep Environment

Even if you set up the nursery long before your baby arrived, it’s a good idea to give everything a last check to make sure all safety measures are in place. A baby-safe sleep environment include:

  • A crib, bassinet, or playpen that meets all current safety guidelines including no head or footboard with decorative cutouts and slats that are no more than 1 ⅜ inches apart.

  • A location that’s away from windows or cords that could be reached by your baby.

  • No toys, blankets, and crib bumpers as they pose a suffocation hazard. Extra layers, as well as sleep sacks or sleep blankets, should provide the warmth your baby needs.

  • A mattress with a snug fit that’s low enough that your baby cannot crawl or fall out of the crib. You’ll have to keep an eye on it and lower the mattress as he grows.

While baby monitors aren't a necessity, they do offer peace of mind and give you some extra freedom while your baby sleeps. Be sure the cord is kept well away from the crib.

The Start of Healthy Sleep Habits

Unfortunately, babies don’t normally have a regular sleep cycle until they are about six months old. However, healthy sleep habits can begin even before your baby is able to sleep through the night. Try to:

  • Keep nighttime feedings and diaper changes quiet and dark. Nighttime feedings should be all business so that your baby is wakened as little as possible.

  • Develop a bedtime routine. Bedtime routines can start as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital. As your baby’s nervous system develops, a regular routine will help trigger the release of sleep hormones. Some classic bedtime activities include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or rocking in a rocking chair.

  • Play and stimulate your baby’s senses during the day. As your baby stays awake longer during the day, he’ll start to sleep for longer stretches at night. It also helps to start establishing those developing circadian rhythms, the natural cycles the body uses to time the sleep-wake cycle.

  • Lay your baby down when he’s drowsy, not asleep. Your baby will learn how to self-soothe as he gets used to falling asleep on his own. This can also cut down on nighttime waking as he’ll learn to put himself back to sleep as he gets older.

  • Don’t jump to soothe. Some babies fuss a little before bed to let out some pent-up tension. Let your baby fuss for a few minutes before going in to soothe him. If he continues to fuss, make sure to keep the room dark and quiet so as not to overstimulate your baby when you soothe him.

Stacey L. Nash is a Seattle area writer for Tuck.com whose insomnia led her to research all aspects of sleep. With a degree in communications from the University of Puget Sound, she helps put sleep into the forefront of the health and wellness conversation. When not researching and writing about sleep, she spends time with her husband and four children on their heavily-wooded, twelve-acre piece of heaven.

Five Essentials to Carry in Your Purse if You Ditch the Diaper Bag

Mom With Child Out & About

Many moms are choosing to forgo the traditional bulky diaper bag in favor of a more fashionable, multipurpose purse. A large purse can work great in lieu of a diaper bag as long as you pack for baby as well as yourself. If you’ve decided that you’re not the diaper bag toting type, here are 5 essential items to be sure you have in your purse at all times.

  1. Diapers: Needless to say, don’t leave home without at least 3 or 4 diapers on hand in case of accidents or just a necessary change. If you use cloth diapers, you’ll want to be sure you also have a wet bag to carry any soiled diapers home without a mess. 
  2. Wipes: Wipes are not only a necessity for diaper changes but can serve a multitude of other purposes from wiping hands, and faces to cleaning the surface of a high chair at a restaurant. Make sure you always have at least one pack of wipes in your bag at all times.
  3. A change of clothes: When a new diaper and wipes don’t cut it, a change of clothes may be necessary. You don’t want to be caught out and about with a baby who’s had a blowout and no clean change of clothes. Your spare change should include a onesie and pants and socks and a sweater if seasonally appropriate.
  4. Hand sanitizer: Especially when you have a new baby, hand sanitizer is your best friend. Whether you’ve touched the grocery cart or the gas pump or have just been around a sick friend, disinfect your hands before passing those germs to baby. Your baby’s immune system is still developing and he is more susceptible to harmful viruses, colds and bacteria now than ever.
  5. A soother: Whether your baby finds comfort in a pacifier or prefers to snuggle with a lovey, be sure to have a comfort object on hand in your bag. This can be an especially important item for car rides when mom can’t be close enough to comfort.

Obviously, there are many more items that may be useful and even necessary to carry in your bag for baby. These include but are not limited to, a hat, a bottle, a sippy cup (for older babies), diaper cream, a nursing cover and a baby sling. But if you are going for the just the essentials to throw in your purse, the above list should suffice for a brief outing. To learn more about what you’ll need for your baby or for any and all questions related to natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.