When you first bring your newborn baby home from the hospital, the high you’re on is just impossible to describe. You’re in love! You don’t want to close your eyes for a second—you just need to take in every funny little face she makes, every gurgle, sneeze and yawn.
But then a few weeks pass, and one day you realize you’ve been operating on coffee, adrenaline and fumes for nearly a month. And you do have vague memories of what it was like to be able to sleep. Those were good times. That’s when you wonder: will your baby ever let you get in a solid block of shut-eye again? Believe it or not, the two of you will eventually both be able to sleep through the night.
Here are some tips for getting sleep-savvy:
No matter what that boastful mom in your playgroup claims about her child’s advanced snoozing skills, many babies aren’t ready for a solid, 8+ hour block of sleep until they are older than six months. I know this is hard to hear as you’re downing your third latte of the day. But it’s true, so manage your expectations accordingly so you don’t get too frustrated (and stock up on the under-eye concealer!)
2. But don’t be that patient…
Expecting more than 8 hours at a time might not be reasonable for a brand-new baby…but by 12 weeks, if the little night owl still getting up every 2 hours, you might be leaping up to respond too quickly. At this point in time, your baby should be able to handle longer shifts, and it’s possible he has become dependent upon a feeding to fall asleep and is waking up not because he’s hungry—but because he can’t stay asleep on his own. Try putting your baby to bed sleepy but awake, so he can learn to drift off to dreamland all by himself. If he whines or fusses a bit at first, and his basic needs are met, it’s OK. There is a difference between bawling hysterically out of hunger or discomfort and what my grandmother would have called “kvetching.” Whether you agree with “cry it out” sleep-training theories or not, note that “whine-it-out” is not the same thing.
3. Perfect your bedtime routine.
Get your baby happily drowsy by establishing a regular night-night routine—then the “drowsy but awake” state you’re aiming for won’t be so difficult to achieve. Run a bath using Rainbow Research’s Sweet Dreams Organic Herbal Bubble Bath for Kids, which contains a blend of lavender and chamomile aromatherapy to relax your little one. Follow that with a relaxing massage using California Baby Overtired and Cranky Massage Oil and soon you’ll see little eyelids fluttering shut.
4. Sleep when your baby sleeps (easier said than done, right?!?)
Everyone tells new moms that when the baby’s napping, she needs to drop what she’s doing and sleep, too. But we all know how absurd this advice is—there are so many other pressing things to do when you finally get a moment to yourself, like…I don’t know…shower! But while you’re in the shower, how about setting the mood for sleep by using a calming formulation like Kiss My Face Peaceful Patchouli Shower Gel? Or better yet, make it a bath and fill the tub with Deep Steep Tangerine Melon Bubble Bath.
Once you’re clean and fresh, turn the phone ringers off, light a Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Lavender Soy Candle and inhale, think happy thoughts, and surrender to sleep.
Before you know it, the baby—otherwise known as your “alarm clock”—will let you know that nap time’s over.
Jorie Mark is the Creative Director of Vitacost.com and mother to three children, ages 2 to 9.