Often, babies will fall asleep on someone’s chest only to wake up as soon as they are put down. If you need to use nap time to get some things done, there are ways to get your child down on a bed without too much trouble!
– Babies & Sleep Tip #1: Make sure that they land on something comfortable. No one likes to go from warm, loving arms to a cold, rigid mattress. A comfortable, warm blanket (tucked in well so your baby cannot wrap himself in it) can do the trick. Some place a warm water bottle on the mattress to warm it up, but I know I would have never remembered to do it! Nicholas like to fall asleep on me wrapped in a blanket, and put in a swing still wrapped in it. He will also go in the swing awake and fall asleep. Franklin… Only wanted the boob. All children are different!
– Babies & Sleep Tip #2: Many babies feel the “fall” as you lie them down. Instead of putting them down right away, rock them from front to back, as if you were going to put them down but changed your mind. Do it first with the baby against you, then slowly away from you, until you put him down completely. Once the transfer is successful, keep your hands on him for a while, then slowly remove them.
– Babies & Sleep Tip #3: I have also found a white noise machine to be invaluable with Franklin (I never used one with Nicholas, although one time, when he was tired, I put him in his swing and turned on the hair dryer to dry my hair. He was out in seconds).
Because Franklin was a high needs infant, any noise would wake him up. He certainly never was one to sleep through the blender, and even a car door slamming next door would wake him up (or someone coughing, or a drawer closing… the list was endless). A white noise machine (my favorite is this portable one) will drown out most of these nuisances to avoid cutting a nap too short and causing your child to be overtired. Keep an eye on the clock to restart it before it shuts off in case it has a timer on it (mine would shut off after 45 minutes) because the sudden lack of noise might startle your child, as would restarting the machine.
– Babies & Sleep Tip #4: Make sure that your child is not feeling too hot or too cold. Babies sleep very well on someone because we are warm and cozy to them. Once I started covering Franklin with a knitted wool blanket, he would sleep a little longer. Part of it was the warmth, but I think that feeling something on him also made him feel secure.
– Babies & Sleep Tip #4: Make sure that your child has had enough activities (when he is older) without being overtired. An overtired child (or adult) will startle and wake up often, and getting him to sleep will be harder even though we might think that the more tired he is, the more easily he will sleep.
– Babies & Sleep Tip #5: If your child will not sleep through noise and activities, it might be better, at least at first, to always be home for naps. I scheduled everything around Franklin’s naps because I knew he needed to sleep and was happier when he did. We would go for walks in the morning but would be back before he was so tired that he would fall asleep on the way, and the same went for afternoon naps. I tried hard to never be in the car around nap time because he might then fall asleep in the car seat, which would lead to a short, non-restorative nap and an overtired, cranky afternoon.
Nicholas also refuses to nap well out of the house. I’m tempted to keep having babies until I get one who stays asleep in the car seat once we’re out of the car!
– Babies & Sleep Tip #6: Some children sleep better in the dark. Franklin was never able to sleep well in a well lit room as he would immediately spot a toy (anything to play with, really) as soon as he would open his eyes. When I invested in black out curtains, he slept longer at nap time and at night. Nicholas slept well in the living room until he was about 2 months old. Then, we moved his swing to the guest bedroom.
– Babies & Sleep Tip #7: Sometimes, children will sleep poorly because they have reached an exciting milestone, like standing up, and they would rather practice. When that’s the case, do the best you can to keep them asleep, and notice when the excitement as gone down. When it has, make sleep a double priority so your child can catch up.
– Babies & Sleep Tip #8: If your child seems to be a poor napper no matter what, consider staying with him during naps to quickly soothe him back to sleep when he wakes up. When I would get Franklin to fall asleep, I would repeat “Ssshh” sounds. After transferring him onto the bed, oftentimes I would only need to repeat the sound when he stirred and seemed about to wake up to get him to settle down again. When this was not enough, I was right there to pick him up and rock him/nurse him back to sleep. It usually worked.
– Babies & Sleep Tip #9: If you need to get some things done but your child clearly does not sleep enough without you, you can try and see how long he will stay asleep without you. Is it only 20 minutes? Do what you need to do in 15 minutes, then go back to his room to get him to sleep again when he wakes.
And, don’t forget that there are many things you can do while your child is napping, like fold laundry, check your e-mails and answer them (a noise machine on the rain setting is similar enough to typing sounds that you might be able to get away with it), read books, clean greens, pay bills (if you have a little unobtrusive light), and of course, nap or just lie down.
– Babies & Sleep Tip #10: Whatever you do, try to stay calm. Children really do seem to pick up on our energies, and I was never able to get Franklin off of me and onto the bed when I needed to be somewhere else. On those days, I could not even get him to unlatch! However, if I repeated to myself “I have all the time in the world” he would often (though not always of course) be asleep and on the bed in 10 minutes flat.
When you’re pregnant, everyone tells you about poopy diapers but no one tells you about sleep. And yet, sleep is by far the most difficult part of raising a baby. When baby’s tired, baby’s not happy, and when baby’s not happy, nobody’s happy! By adapting these 10 rules to your child, you will likely have an easier time of raising him, and motherhood will be a lot more enjoyable!