Baby Won’t Sleep?
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Rather than getting into that anxious cycle with your baby, feeling guilty, frustrated, or judged and nervous about getting your baby to sleep, instead work on creating a calm field within. Be the anchor for your baby. Be the captain of the ship. Don’t get caught up in their storm, but create a magnetic energy field of calm. With my first baby, it helped me to repeat these mantras to myself. I am endlessly patient. There is nothing you can do to chip away at my patience. I will stay relentlessly calm. Let them express all of their frustration and energy, let them release it, and sleep as a result. Trust them, trust yourself. Put all of the energy you are putting into anxiety and Googling sleep, into creating that peaceful energy field for your baby.
Tips & Tricks to Get Your Highly Alert Baby to Sleep
- Sleep Begets Sleep– Usually we think that if babies aren’t sleeping it’s because they aren’t tired enough, when really the opposite is true. But when babies are overtired, cortisol kicks in and they get a second wind! Yawning, crying, fussy, tugging ears. These are signals that your baby is ALREADY overtired. The more babies sleep, the more they sleep. The better it gets, the better it gets. But the less sleep they have during the day, the less sleep they are likely to get at night.
- Remember that sleep is IMPORTANT – Congratulations to you for even researching this topic. Many of us fall into the trap of being nervous, or not sure what to do in order to take action. Reminding you of this again and again isn’t to guilt you, but to light a fire under your tush to say it is WORTH taking action even if it goes against the grain and elicits judgement from people around you. Yes, even if there is crying in the sleep learning process. You’ll know from my Attachment Parenting post, that I support the 7B’s of Attachment Parenting. However my baby is HIGHLY alert. I was willing to try everything, including all the “crutches” like nursing and rocking to sleep. His eyes stay glued open. He desperately needed sleep to develop his brain and body. I was nervous for his health. With support and professional help, we concluded this baby needed to cry himself to sleep to expel some energy. All of this is to say that sleep is IMPORTANT.
- Don’t Blame Yourself – Make conscious choices to stay calm and confident. Don’t be fully focused only on your baby’s sleep. Take a step back, and a deep breath in. If your baby is crying and you need to eat or shower, then eat or shower. Your baby first and foremost needs you to be OK. This is a season that will pass and you will both get back on track. Remember sleeplessness is a form of torture. Trust and remind yourself to stay positive. Putting a lot of negative energy into worrying about sleep does not help your baby.
- Listen to your Gut – Trust your intuition, expertise and attunement to your unique baby and situation. What matters at the end of the day is what is TRUE for you and your baby. Reclaim your motherly intuition. There is not ONE perfect way, but many great ways. This might be found through trial and error.
- Create Predictability and Routine – My baby needs predictability. If it’s not dark, he’s not falling asleep. A bath every night before bed is helping him fall asleep. If you can choose 1 or 2 things that you do every day at the same time like going out for a walk, or your feeding times if that’s necessary, this can cue your baby to know that sleep is coming soon. That way he won’t go into overdrive, but rather receive that cue and begin to feel drowsy. Observe what you typically do already anyway, and then make those anchor points each day.
- Relax Physically – A very popular bedtime ritual is a warm bath before bedtime. Ask your doctor about Epsom salts, and learn to give your baby a massage. These things help baby’s little body relax, and are also priming cues that la la land (bedtime) is coming soon.
- Use Scents– Babies are highly sensitive to scents. Jasmine and lavender essential oils (or products that contain them) are both great bedtime choices. Just remember to keep it very diluted and not near your baby’s face. Putting a t-shirt or something that smells like you and your milk near baby while she sleeps, is a popular choice too.
- E.A.S.Y – Eat, Awake, Sleep, You. This schedule is suggested by The Baby Whisperer. Tracy Hoggs suggests that you don’t connect eating to sleeping. This differentiates between the two so baby doesn’t need to rely on feeding to fall asleep, and isn’t gassy or needing a burp at bedtime. If baby is nursing before going to sleep and that routine works for you, try to get out that burp before she does go to sleep.
- Consider Pottying Your Baby – No one can sleep if they need to pee! If your baby is highly sensitive, they are going to be very happy if they poop or pee before going to bed. At the very least, change the diaper so they are fresh and relaxed. For more about EC, check out my Elimination Communication post and the one about Early Potty Training.
- Keep the room Cool – My baby sleeps so much better in a room that is 68 degrees. Overheating is much more dangerous than underheating. If baby is a little cold, nothing bad will happen. In fact, he might just sleep better. Layering your baby in hats and blankets is also not safe, nor recommended.
- Keep the Room Dark – Black out shades are probably best. Blue artificial light is especially good at stimulating our brains and keeping us awake! So, don’t keep a phone or computer in the bedroom. I didn’t want my baby to NEED pitch darkness to fall asleep, but I think that’s better than a baby who doesn’t sleep at all. I actually covered my baby’s eyes with a baby eye mask! Definitely check with a doc if this is safe, and keep an eye on him so that it does not get caught around his neck.
- Noise machine or Gentle Music – The Baby Sleep Genius music app is what I like to use. Any noise that can mask the comings and goings. Some research says that continuous white noise can actually raise cortisol levels, so that is why I prefer soft music.
- Help your Baby Get Drowsy – Stroke, rock, hug, or hold…just for a bit! Once it is dark and cool, figure out what it is that your baby likes! Maybe your baby likes to be sung to, or just needs to hear your breath or be held in a carrier. Make sure it’s something you LIKE to do to. Observe your baby, and make sure it is in fact something she likes and isn’t getting overstimulated by. Just my PRESENCE was stopping my baby from sleeping, all the while I was stopping him from sleeping and overstimulating him. Preferences may change over time too. Once drowsy but awake, that is the time to place your baby on his sleep surface. If needed, start by putting him or her down fully asleep and then over time put her down a little bit closer more awake each time.
- Allow Your Baby to Express Energy – Your baby MAY need to cry a little bit. Give them the space to settle and sleep without interfering too much.
- Trust and decipher your baby’s cries and respond accordingly – Trust your gut in discerning your baby’s cries. Take into account ALL of the other needs that you and your baby have too. Going in there frustrated an irritated, that doesn’t help either. If your baby feels scared and abandoned you will hear that in the cry. Tired, sleepy cries are not the same as scared or in pain cries.
- Stay Supported and Positive – Don’t allow judgment or criticism to disrupt your zen. Your baby needs you! You and your baby are unique. Seek support from friends, neighbors, or online peers who are supportive and non-judgmental like our Love Parenting Facebook Group.
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