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6 sleep tips for your baby

6 sleep tips for your baby

1. Spring into action at the first sign of sleepiness.

"Timing is critical. Tuning into your baby's natural biological rhythms—by reading her telltale drowsy signs—ensures that when she's placed in her crib, melatonin (the powerful sleep hormone) is elevated in her system, and her brain and body will be primed to drift off with little fuss. If you wait too long, however, your infant can become overtired, so not only will she have lower melatonin levels, but her brain begins to release wakefulness hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This makes it difficult for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep and can lead to early wake-ups. So don't miss these cues: When your little one is still, quiet, disinterested in her surroundings, and staring off into space, melatonin is peaking in her system and it's time to go to bed." – Jenni June, a sleep consultant in Los Angeles

2. Drown out sound...with sound.

"Blackout shades and a white-noise machine transform a nursery into a womb-like environment—and muffle the noise and light from outside. Half of a baby's sleep is REM, or rapid eye movement. This is the light-sleep stage in which dreams occur, so it can seem as if almost anything will wake him: Your phone rings in the living room, you laugh too loudly at your Netflix show, you pull a tissue out of the box. But that is less likely to happen with a white-noise machine running because the background noise covers it all. Some have timers, but I prefer the ones that plug in so they stay on all night. The Marpec Dohm is my favorite. I tell parents to test the volume by having one person stand outside the doors and talk. The white machine should muffle the voice but not drown it own completely." – Brooke Nalle, a sleep consultant and founder of Sleepy on Hudson in Dobbs Ferry, New York

3. Don't give up on swaddling.

"It's the first piece of advice I give to new parents, and they often say, 'I tried swaddling, and my baby hated it.' But sleep changes so rapidly in those early weeks and that what she hates at 4 days might work at 4 weeks. And you'll get better with practice too. It's common to swaddle to loosely the first few times or feel flustered if your baby is wailing. Believe me, it's worth another shot, as long as she is still too young to roll over. Try different styles of swaddles, like the Miracle Blanket, which wraps snugly around, or the Swaddle Up, which lets your baby keep her hands up by her face–and maybe make it a little tighter to leave one of her arms out." – Linda Szmulewitz, a licensed social worker and founder of The Chicago New Moms Group and Sleep Tight Consultants

4. Drop the temp.

"We all sleep best in a cool room, including babies. Aim to keep your thermostat between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit to give your baby the most comfortable sleep. If her fingers feel chilly, that's normal.To reassure yourself, put your hand on her chest. If it's warm, she's warm enough." – Nalle

5. Prepare for quick changes.

"Hunting for a fresh crib sheet after your baby soaks his diaper or spits up is miserable in the middle of the night, and turning on the lights can wake him up more fully, meaning getting him back to sleep can take an eternity. Instead, double layer ahead of time: Use a regular crib sheet, then a disposable waterproof pad, then another sheet on top. That way, you can just peel away the top layer and pad, throw the sheet in the hamper, and toss the waterproof pad. Also be sure to keep a one-piece, a swaddle, or a sleep sack nearby–whatever it is your baby needs to continue the night comfortably–so you're not hunting through drawers every time your baby's diaper leaks." – Aimi Palmer, a sleep consultant and cofounder of AB Child Solutions, in London

6. Take turns.

"If you have a partner, there's no reason both of you need to be awake every time the baby is. Maybe you go to bed at 10 p.m. and sleep until 2 a.m., and your partner sleeps the early-morning shift. Even if you wake to nurse, let your partner handle the diaper change before and soothe the baby after. This way you'll both get four or five hours of uninterrupted sleep–which makes all the difference." – Nalle

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