I remember the dilemma we were in when we found out we were expecting little Marlow. With Vancouver’s housing market, we were living in a one bedroom 600 sq foot apartment not far from downtown. Coming from Vancouver Island, and growing up in fairly large homes with yards – I didn’t know how we were going to make it work with a baby in our small space. After consulting with my tribe of moms, I found out that our situation is quite normal for families in this city. What is different about us all though, is the sleeping arrangement that we chose for our newborn.
What is Safe Sleep
We have all heard of the dreaded word SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). SIDS, also commonly known as crib death is the unexplained death of a baby under the age of one year. Nicknamed “Crib Death” because many infants die in their cribs. As a mother I can honestly say that it scares me. I have gotten up many a night to check that my daughter is still breathing.
The cause is very much unknown, and there is no way to keep it from happening, however, there are some basic rules and guidelines to follow for safe sleep in order to help prevent it from happening to your family. Here are some helpful tips:
- Breast feed your baby (if you can) for at least 6 months – It can lower chances of SIDS by up to 50%
- Put your baby to sleep on their back – Until your baby is strong enough to roll themselves over, sleeping on their back is the safest. Babies who sleep on their stomachs are more likely to suffocate
- Do not have extra “stuff” in crib. Keep it empty – An Empty Crib = Less chance of suffocation
- No Bumper Pads – They are not recommended in Canada because of suffocation risks
- Have baby sleep in your room for at least 6 months – but not in your bed – Many studies show that babies who slept in the same room as mom have a greatly lower risk of SIDS during the first 6 months
- Put baby to sleep on a firm surface – This is also to reduce suffocation
- Quit Smoking – Smoking during pregnancy increases your chance of experiencing SIDS by 3 times. Second hand smoke also increases the chance of SIDS in your home
- Immunize – Babies that are properly immunized have a 50% lower risk of being affected by SIDS
- Use a pacifier – Studies aren’t sure why this reduces babies risk of SIDS, however, it can lower risk by up to 50%
- Do not overdress your baby – Overheating your baby increases SIDS, keep the room cool, and dress accordingly
- Use a Sleep Sac – I love the Nested Bean brand!
I know I just stated to keep baby out of your bed, but I will admit, I am totally guilty of Co Sleeping these days. Not only do I love the cuddles, I just sometimes am so damn tired after a night feeding that putting her in bed beside me seems like the best way for me to get some sleep.
There can be many arrangements for co sleeping. Having your baby in the same room as you, but in her own bed is a form of co sleeping. So is having your baby sleep in your bed. This form is widely used by moms that are breastfeeding because of the ease it creates for those late night and all night feeds.
Some other benefits of co sleeping include:
- Parents usually get more sleep (Except for Michael, he is constantly getting pushed off the bed)
- Babies usually sleep longer next to a parent
- No nighttime separation anxiety from baby
- Breastfeeding at night helps maintain milk supply
- Breastfeeding at night is easier with baby already beside you
- Baby will fall back asleep easier and faster
Having a Bedtime Routine
Personally, I feel the earlier you start a bedtime routine with your baby the better. We started with Marlow around 4 weeks, and have adapted it accordingly to her as she continues to grow. Babies love consistency, so create a routine that is simple enough for you to do each night and eventually they will expect it and learn it as their “wind down phase.”
There are no set rules for what you can include in your nighttime routine but this is what ours looks like these days.
- 6:30pm – 6:50pm – Playtime with Mommy and Daddy
- 6:50pm – 7:00pm – Bath Time
- 7:00pm – 7:10pm – Jammies, Brush Teeth
- 7:10pm – 7:30pm – Last feed before bed
- 7:30pm – 7:45pm – Read Stories with Daddy
- 7:45pm – 8:00pm – Quick Rock, and Place in bed for sleep
You can adapt and include whatever you like in to your bed time routine as long as it is consistent. Some babies really take to music, and songs. That could be a great bed time addition. Whatever it is, you and your baby will learn to love the routine.
Nap time routines are also an important part of healthy sleep habits in babies. Create a small routine to do before each nap during the day. Here is what ours looks like:
- Mom Notices Babies Tired Cues
- Feed baby
- Change Baby
- Place in Bed
- Shh, and Pat for 1-2 minutes and leave the room
Other Sleep Tips
So how much sleep does your baby really need throughout the day? That greatly depends on the age of your baby but here is a general rule you can follow:
- Newborn (0-3 months) – 14 – 17 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period 8:00pm – 9:00pm Average Bed Time
- 4 – 11 Months –12 – 15 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period 6:30pm – 8:00pm Average Bed Time
- 1 – 2 Years –11 – 12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period 7:00pm – 8:00pm Average Bed Time
Invest in some Black Out Blinds for your window if babies room is quite light. You will notice a huge difference in the ease of getting them down for sleep times.
White noise is also a great addition, even if it is just a fan. I find that this can help her sleep for longer stretches at a time.
As you can see, the rules for sleep and baby are not set in stone. They can vary greatly depending on your home situation, if there are other children in your home, and on the type of baby you have. Some may need more snuggles than others, and that is perfectly fine! Soak it up while you can.
You may try out a few different sleep situations before finding one that works, that is totally normal. Don’t get discouraged if it takes you a little while to find your groove! You will! Whatever you decide will be the right choice for you and your family!
Good Luck in your journey of baby and sleep!