3 weeks since your little angel has been home and still has no idea that there is a difference between night and day. Take it from a parent of experience: you’ll be ok. There is no magical recipe to get your child to sleep every single time. It will sort itself out soon enough. But in the meantime, here are 8 tricks to get the Zs going.
1) Time your baby’s sleep right
For some illogical reason, if you’re baby is TOO tired, he will not go to sleep. The reason escapes me, but it is as it is. When your baby is a newborn, watch for cues that he may be starting to feel sleepy (such as yawning or staring off into space), being mindful to catch this before he gets cranky! When that happens, seize the opportunity!
2) Verbally tell your baby it is time for a nap
Babies understand a whole lot more than we think (granted, your 2 week old will have no idea what you are talking about, but after 6 or 7 months of repetition, they will come to associate the sounds to the action!). So, when you put your little one to sleep, tell her. Always use the same phrase before sleep, such as “Good night my sweetheart, sleep well. Mommy loves you.” (For some odd reason, when you become a mom you start speaking about yourself in the 3rd person. Seriously, just go with it.)
3) Avoid eye contact
At a young age, eye contact is very stimulating for baby. So try to avoid it right before bedtime (as in, the a few minutes before bedtime! Baby needs eye contact before that.) to avoid revving her up when she is supposed to be calmed down.
4) Avoid soothing baby for too long
When you put your little one down for the night or for a nap, make sure you do not soothe him for too long and that he does not fall asleep while you do so. Why? Simply because if he falls asleep, he will associate the soothing to when he is supposed to fall asleep, and it will make it more difficult to fall asleep later on by himself when you are not there to soothe him! By creating a calm and peaceful environment 10-15 minutes before falling asleep, it will relax your baby and make it easier for both of you.
5) White noise
When your baby was in your tummy, he was constantly surrounded by a variety of sounds. Your voice, deep hums, static-like noise and the likes. Purchase an inexpensive white sound machine and test out which sound works best for baby. Don’t worry that it will be too loud: chances are, it will be louder than you initially anticipated since baby was used to loud noise during your pregnancy. The white noise helps soothe your child and will (hopefully) help put him to sleep.
Any new parent will tell you of the capital importance of the “baby burrito”: wrapping your newborn up in such a way that she looks like an adorable burrito. Being used to being tightly wrapped when you were carrying her over 9 months, the effect produced by being swaddled in the tight blanket should be beneficial and increase sleep
7) Lavender oil
Put a few drops of lavender oil on a tissue near your baby’s crib (it has been shown that putting fragrance directly on infants under 6 months old could irritate the skin a little too much). If your baby is under 12 months old, you may even want to keep it further away from the crib so as not to irritate sensitive noses! Lavender has calming properties and could be just what your little one needs to drift into dreamland.
8) Car ride
If all else fails, strap your baby into her car seat and drive around the block a few times. The white noise and the vibrations have a calming effect on babies, which will help your little one fall asleep. Some say that it is best to transfer the baby from the car seat to a bed once he is asleep, so as not to stress his neck.
Desirable side effects of this: creates moments where you and your partner can talk quietly about things that may have not have been discussed, or have a moment of peacefulness without feeling guilty! It works wonders for when you have children of different ages, as it soothes younger and older children. For us, this was THE go-to technique (honestly, I’m so impressed with parents that put their children to sleep without having the car as a last resort. For us it was life-saving -- or at least sanity-saving!)
Hopefully these tricks work for you. If they do not, don’t feel discouraged: not all children are the same and what works for some may not work for others. Just find your jam and go with it: it doesn’t matter how ridiculous it is as long as it works.