I can remember as a new mother being able to recognize other new moms while out and about. The disheveled hair and dark circles under the eyes stuck out to me as a clear indicator that these women were just as sleep deprived as I was while caring for my baby.
Rest seems to be more of a luxury than a necessity when caring for a newborn or even a toddler. I can remember feeling grateful for two straight hours of uninterrupted slumber when my babies were little.
However, if I had known some of the tricks of the trade and the risks for both me and my son, those dark circles never would have appeared under my eyes for two straight years.
Sleeping is More Than Just a Luxury – You and Your Baby Need Sleep
As a mom, your range is likely to vary based on your child’s feeding schedule or even his or her age. According to the National Sleep Foundation, though, adults aged 18 to 64 should acquire at least seven to nine hours of sleep each day.
Your baby requires much more rest than you do; however, many moms notice that the total hours is often in short durations due to feeding schedules.
According to Pediatrician Jennifer A. Gardner, also the founder of Healthy Kids Company, these irregular periods of waking are necessary for your little one.
“Newborns should never be allowed to sleep through the night,” said Gardner. “They are growing very rapidly and they have high caloric demands.”
So how can you and your baby get the sleep you need?
You can improve your health and the well-being of your child by making sleep a top priority with the help of electronic devices and develop a bedtime routine for both you and your baby so you will both feel refreshed and well-rested at the start of each day.
Baby gadgets that aid in soothing your little one into a night of blissful slumber are a must-have for parents. Consider baby gear that is designed to maximize your sweet slumber such as:
- Sound Machines: Your baby may prefer to be in the middle of the action and the quietness of her room or crib is just too much. Sound machines can help her feel as if she is surrounded by the family. From the sound of crashing waves or the wind blowing, sound machines help to keep her occupied until she falls asleep.
- Smart Thermostats: If you find that your little one is not resting as he should, it may be time to double check the environment in which he sleeps. A smart thermostat helps to monitor your child’s room and lets you know the temperature in which your baby sleeps best.
- Electric Blankets: Ease your newborn into sleep with the warmth she needs. Warmth offers her the security she needs to fall into sleep slumber. If you don’t have an electric blanket on hand, consider swaddling her in a blanket right out of the dryer.
- Turn on a Mobile: Your baby is curious, which is why having a mobile above her crib keeps her curiosity at bay. Opt for a mobile with sound or install one that rotates so your infant can entertain herself while self soothing.
Beware: Lack of Sleep Impacts Your Parenting Abilities
Without a clear routine, your physical and mental health can suffer if you are not getting the minimum recommended hours each night.
In fact, many parents suffer from sleep deprivation even if they are getting close to the recommended hours of rest every day. One of the key issues revolves around disruptions in the resting cycle. Quality trumps quantity when you have difficulty falling back to sleep after caring for your baby in the middle of the night.
As a result, you may be at risk when fatigue takes over your physical and mental state.
According to the Victoria, Australia Department of Health & Human Services, sleepy fatigue can impair your judgment, affect your decision making ability and make you accident prone.
Signs of deprivation may mask themselves at first, but take notice if you are experiencing any of the following:
- An overall feeling of grogginess all day long
- Mood changes that commonly leave you feeling more irritable
- Constant yawning
- Dozing when you are inactive for just a short while
- Lack of an ability to concentrate or focus
- Waking up feeling groggy instantly
Children, too, can experience sleep deprivation if their quality or quantity doesn’t meet the recommended standards set forth by the National Sleep Foundation. Watch for the following signs that indicate your child may need to nap more often:
- Irritability that leads to mood changes or explosive outbursts
- Hyperactive behavior or over-activity
- An unwillingness to get out of bed each morning
- General feeling of grogginess when waking up
Your little one is depending on you, which is why it is important to incorporate baby gadgets into your routine so you both can get the rest you need to avoid behavioral and physical symptoms associated with sleep deprivation.
Consider these products to eliminate those restless nights:
- Smart Night Lights: Keep your newborn soothed and sleepy with smart night lights that play music or change colors. The soft lights and lullabies stemming from this must-have baby gear may be just what your little one needs when fighting sleep.
- Vibrating Chairs: If a crib or bassinet doesn’t agree with your infant, help him get drowsy with a vibrating chair or rocker. The movement mimics the feeling of being rocked by mom while you have a hands-free option so you can get the rest you need, too.
- Vibrating Mattress Pads: For the baby who prefers to rest in his own abode, consider installing a vibrating mattress pad in his crib for extra comfort. This innovative gadget helps ease those bedtime routines and may eliminate his cries when you are out of the room.
- Smart Cradles: Make your newborn feel close to the womb with a smart cradle that buckles into the crib. A smart cradle emits noise to calm down your infant while rocking at the speed you set. Smart cradles also aim to reduce sudden infant death syndrome while helping your child drift off to sleep.
Monitoring Sleep Strategies Keeps You Well Rested
It’s likely that your newborn or even your toddler has a mind of his own when it comes to sleeping. The schedule may seem erratic and even chaotic at times. When deprivation and exhaustion take over, though, many parents seek out sleep training strategies to improve the overall health and well-being of the family.
Sleep training, a popular technique for new moms, is the process of coaxing your baby to learn how to self-soothe, fall asleep on his own and stay asleep for the entire night. While all babies have different needs and abilities to soothe themselves, many have difficulty settling into rest and falling back asleep after a feeding or awakening in the middle of the night. Sleep training offers moms a way to provide routine that allows for ample rest.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to let your baby cry a bit to get himself to calm himself down each night, using the Cry It Out Method.
The Cry It Out Method, though, is not typically recommended until your little one is at least 4 months old, according to Alanna McGinn, certified sleep consultant. “Self-soothing skills don’t typically develop until infants are 12 weeks of age,” said McGinn.
“Provided your child’s weight is thriving, there are no medical issues and they are at least 4 to 6 months of age, parents can work on weening out multiple feeds throughout the night as well as work on managing some of the sleep associations that may have developed like feeding to sleep and rocking to sleep.”
Consider using baby gadgets to monitor how you little one is coping with sleep strategies.
- Video Monitors: Use two-way communication to monitor your baby’s cries and level of comfort. A video monitor helps you to see your baby without having to creep into her room, as not to disturb the process of sleep training. While audio monitors have been more popular in the past, advanced technology with video monitors is making this option much more convenient for moms. For example, you can download an app to your smartphone and sync it to your video monitor so you can view your child’s sleeping patterns when she is in the care of a babysitter in your absence.
- Baby Movement Monitors: Make sure your child is breathing regularly while asleep with a baby movement monitor. Simply clip this gadget to your newborn’s diaper near his stomach. If your child does not move or breathe within 15 seconds, the alarm sounds to alert you to take action. Safety is the most important element when it comes to your child’s well being and sleep patterns.
Routines Can Enhance Sleep for All
Just like any change in your family life, training your little one to sleep requires preparation. Set the stage for a night of rest and peace by taking the following actions:
- Establish a Bedtime Routine: The more you stay consistent with a routine that promotes shuteye, the more your child will adapt to the schedule. Even with infants as young as 6 weeks old, you can begin to introduce bedtime rituals such as drawing a warm bath, reading a short book or singing a special song so your little one knows it is time to get ready for bed.
- Remain Steady With Your Schedule: Family activities often dictate your schedule, but do your best to prepare both your infant and your toddler for bed at the same time each night. Most infants should be ready for bed by 7 or 8 p.m. each evening. If you wait until later, your baby could become overtired and is likely to fight sleep, causing a struggle for both of you.
- Create a Wake-Up Routine: Just as you should prepare your baby for bedtime, stay consistent with a morning routine. Schedule your day so she feeds at the same time and goes down for a nap around the same time each day. Little ones are more likely to fall into sweet slumber when their daily schedule is predictable.
The smart nursery products you have on hand can help you to encourage your infant to rest more comfortably.
- Baby Shusher: If your baby needs a bit more reassurance at bed time or when trying to fall back asleep in the middle of the night, consider adding a baby shusher in her nursery. Just like a sound machine, this gadget recreates sounds of the womb. Simply set the timer and let the shusher reassure your baby at night or in the morning when she is restless.
- Pocket Nanny: When you are feeling sleep deprived, let technology help keep you on schedule. A device like the pocket nanny includes timers to alert you when it may be time to feed your baby, change his diaper or put him down for a nap. Many of these gadgets come with night lights to aid you in navigating your child’s nursery in the wee hours of the night.
The first few nights, your baby will probably cry or whimper for a bit when you attempt to leave her alone or let her cry it out. Parents can expect some sort of protest, explains McGinn. Instead of rushing to her side, let your little one cry for a full five minutes. Then, repeat the process of offering reassurance and patting her back for a brief moment.
Continue the process until she falls fast asleep.
In some cases, it is necessary to extend the time to six or seven minutes or longer.
After a few rough nights of letting your baby cry it out, she will learn that you are there, but also that it’s time to go to bed. You may also find that having the right gadgets can help you both get the sleep you need.
Know That You WILL Sleep Again
When my child was nearing her first birthday, I wondered if I would ever rest through the night again. However, with patience, a few products to keep her occupied and the cry it out method, I learned that taking the time to sleep train provided me with the rest I so desperately needed.
While many moms expect to sacrifice sleep, the consequences that envelop you once fatigue takes over are just too risky. Know that although your child may not adopt a schedule that is ideal for you, a routine is just that – something consistent for all of you.
The use of baby gadgets to aid in your bedtime routine is essential so your rest and your baby’s rest is effortless.
“Above all else, your child will benefit more from having proper consolidated and restorative sleep throughout the night as you will the parent,” said McGinnis.
1) National Sleep Foundation, https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times/page/0/1
2) Jennifer A. Gardner, Pediatrician, http://www.healthykidscompany.com/ (interviewed personally)
3) Victoria, Australia Department of Health & Human Services, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/sleep-deprivation
4) Alanna McGinn, Certified Sleep Consultant (interviewed personally) http://goodnightsleepsite.com/