My 5 Baby Sleep Tips and Favorite Sleep Products

Get you baby started on the right foot to sleeping successfully through the night.  Five easy steps you can do to get on your way to restful nights.  Plus a few favorite and safe sleep products that can help.  

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Episode Transcript

Welcome back. I’m Beverly Garrison and I am your host today from first breaths to first steps. I have Lindsay Burchfield with me from Columbine sleep solutions. Lindsay is a sleep specialist and has been in practice for a couple of years now, helping to train children for better sleep habits and help parents with that. Today, we thought we would talk about five sleep tips that you can start implementing from birth and also go through some of Lindsay’s favorite sleep products. So, Lindsay, welcome. And thank you for joining me today. Hi Beth. Thank you so much for having me back really appreciate it.

Let’s start out. Can you give us five sleep tips that you think are beneficial that we could start using right away from birth? Sure. I always love to talk about this topic and kind of the five things that you can start doing once you bring baby home. You know, the newborn period is such a special time and I always say parents really shouldn’t worry too much about anything but bonding with their little one during that time. But sleep deprivation is definitely comes to bear during the newborn period and so there are a few things that I like to share with clients or folks about what they can do to get sleep on a good path forward in those first three months of life.

The first tip I like to share is that babies really can only withstand about 45 minutes to one hour of awake time after birth. This is something that really goes all the way up through that first 12 weeks of life. What that means is that babies should be ultimately diapered fed and played with in a window no more than 45 minutes to one hour before being put down to sleep again. And if we’re following these particular windows, that really helps with making sure your little one is not getting over tired, which can just make things like the witching hour, so much worse.

The second tip that I like to share is that babies are born without a circadian rhythm. They don’t really necessarily know their nights from their days. I suggest parents actually established 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of nighttime for their little one. This will help little ones be able to make between nighttime and daytime and it will also try to help them set their circadian rhythm. I often do in terms of suggestions for those 12 hours a day and 12 hours of night is to do eight to eight. 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM is daytime and then 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM is nighttime. When you talk about daytime versus nighttime, I always tell patients, Hey, during the daytime, let the doorbell ring, let the dog bark vacuum, if you’re listening to TV, do all those things. So that. It’s not such a sterile environment. As far as nighttime, I always tell patients like if you can feed by nightlight, not a lot of singing, talking cooing, just keep it very minimal, very quiet. Yeah, I would absolutely agree with that. The other thing too is helping to get your baby out in the daylight or in the sunlight during the day also really helps with setting that circadian rhythm. I agree that during those 12 hours a day, you want them to be absolutely exposed to light as well as all of those fun sounds. Yeah, for sure. For sure.

What would be your third tip? My third tip is that I would suggest a bedtime around eight to nine. I talked about ultimately having those 12 hours a day in 12 hours at night, but most babies actually can kind of start their bedtime around eight or nine, that’s the ideal time. I always suggest that you kind of stick to that window, have that a set bedtime for your little one each and every night, if possible, and to also use a bedtime routine. So not only is bedtime starting between eight and nine, but start a little bedtime routine and that will really help your baby be cued for what is to come from. When you talk about routine, do you mean doing the same things, kind of in the same order at the same time? Yes. I always suggest doing a bedtime routine that is exactly the same each and every night. For the newborns, I often suggest about a 30 to 45 minute routine, which can include everything from a bath to a story, a song, and then always a feed. I always, especially in that newborn phase, suggest doing a feed right before baby goes to sleep to make sure their tummy is full and that can help to consolidate and extend that first stretch of sleep as well. Yeah, I think that sometimes too, just like if we would do a constant bedtime routine, I think even for adults, you fall asleep a little bit better, your body is realizing, Hey, it’s time to shut down. If we start that as a newborn, it just instills good sleep habits from the time, your newborn all the way through childhood, through teenager, years up until you adulthood. If we can kind of set that groundwork. Absolutely. And I always suggest with clients, no matter what, age that I’m working with, that we have a set bedtime routine. If you start it from day one, it becomes extremely natural and something that will always carry over and help you and your children set up for success in the sleep space.

Perfect. What would be your fourth sleep tip that we can? My fourth sleep tip is that we need to, or really the goal of newborn sleep is to give your child some opportunities to fall asleep on their own. I think that a lot of new parents think that getting or helping your child fall asleep is our duty. Well, yes, of course there will be time for, we’ll be there to help her child fall asleep, but the skill of sleep is a learned one. In the newborn phase, you can help to teach your child this independent sleep skill without really having to train them. The best way to do that is with something. I call the pickup or put down method. The way this works is after you’ve done your bedtime routine around eight or nine, You would try to place your baby in the bassinet or crib awake or in a drowsy, but awake state. At that point in time, you would give them that opportunity to fall asleep. If they start to fuss, then what we would do. And this is where the pick-up put down comes up is you would go and you would pick your baby up. You would soothe them. Not to a fully asleep state, but once again to that drowsy or awake state, putting them back in their crib or bassinet to allow them to fall asleep again. The idea is that if we do this on a routine basis, and I always suggest doing something like this at bedtime, and maybe the first nap of the day, this will really give their child that opportunity to learn that skill of falling asleep on their own. And therefore, if you did this early on in their life You hopefully will never have to quote unquote, sleep, train them. This is a great way to just start instilling some of those independencies yeah early on in their life. I am always trying to counsel parents, you know, you want to put them down with their eyes slightly open, not completely asleep. Almost. To kind of reiterate that you are not their tool to put them to sleep and that they learn what that feels like to be drowsy and put themselves to sleep. Because we have different levels of activity while we’re sleeping. And if babies arouse and get a little bit awaken during the night, they’ll be able to turn things down a bit and be able to be like, okay, it’s not morning time. This is what it feels like to be drowsy and I could put myself back to sleep. Yep. Exactly. And that’s just that giving them those opportunities to learn this skill. So I totally agree with what you’re saying. Wonderful advice there. Yeah. I love that. You say do it in the morning too. Cause I feel like for parents, a lot of times, you know, nighttime is so crazy and you’re just doing whatever you can to kind of get some rest. But I think when the sun is up, it’s a good. Activity to try and to try and do when everyone’s kind of rested and on their a game. I really liked that you were saying, not only should we try it during our bedtime routine, that 45 minute time that we’ve set aside to be, , kind of doing things in a sequential order, but also trying that in the morning as well. Absolutely.

What would be your fifth and final tip that you would say we could start in the newborn period? My last tip is that in a newborn period, safety really is first when it comes to sleep. It’s very important for us to be aware of where our baby is sleeping, how they’re sleeping. I always recommend that baby be put down on their back for sleep and all sleep situations, that they’d be put in an independent sleep space, like a bassinet or crib, and that they’re sleeping on a firm flat surface with really nothing in there besides a sheet, because we really want to ensure that baby is safe and it’s found that all of these things can help reduce SIDS. I always suggest no matter what newborn sleep can be hard, but do your best to really get your child in a safe, sleeping situation for every sleep environment or sleep experience they’re having. Unfortunately we do have cases every year where kids get suffocated and we have issues when they’re sleeping in parents’ beds and our beds are not made for our babies. Right. I mean, you can have a pillow-top you have loose bedding in there. So it’s really easy to get that sorta bedding around their face. That can be a problem. I do sometimes when parents are like, oh, but I need them right there. I will kind of talk to them a little bit about a co-sleeper or a bed that abuts up to parents’ beds, but it’s still their own sleep space. It’s a firm surface, like you’re saying it has a fitted sheet. There’s nothing loose in there. The walls of it or the sides of it, or breathable usually mesh. I think that that is just such a safer environment to be in. And we really do recommend that babies are sleeping on their back when we’re new and we’re little that you put them on their tummy, they just don’t have the strength in that neck and upper back to kind of clear their face. They can get kind of buried face down into even their bassinet. So I think you bring up some really, really great points.

Lindsey, what would you say are your favorite sleep products that you like? Absolutely. I think this was kind of fun to talk about. So one of the things that I love when it comes to sleep products is a white noise machine or even a white noise slash okay to wake clock combination. This is a great way to help drown out environmental noises. I often get asked if white noise will put your baby to sleep. The answer to that is no. And won’t put your baby to sleep, but it will really help to drown out anything, environmental that could wake them easily from sleep once they’re there. I love to advocate for white noise. The particular product that I like to use is the hatch. Reason being is it’s controlled by your phone. And also as your child ages, it can turn into an okay to wake clock, which is really wonderful for those toddler years. The one thing that I do like to suggest about the white noise machine though, is that we don’t want to turn it up too loud. The suggested volume on that would be anything of 50 decibels or less. I suggest putting it far on the other edge of the room from where your, the crib is. And if you even want to test the decibel level, you can easily get an app on your phone to test that. But white noise can be extremely helpful for any environmental noises that may wake them.

The other product that I love to suggest is blackout shades. Babies can very easily be woken by any kind of light. So even, especially in the summer, it becomes difficult when the sun is rising earlier, they can easily stir at that , five 30, 6:00 AM time period, because a little light is sneaking in. Blackout shades can really help to curtail that and make sure that the sleep space is dark. It also can help with naps as that child ages and we’re having them nap in their crib or bassinet. Love a blackout shade. The one fun thing about blackout sheets though, is if you don’t want to buy one or you can’t afford one you can always actually just tape up a black garbage bag on the window. Of course, that’s, doesn’t look very good, but it does really nice job of keeping that sun out.

Then the last product that I’m a huge advocate for is any type of a sleep sack. Early on, swaddling is great. And there’s a lot of good swaddles out there that you can purchase. However, once maybe starts to roll or about to roll, I even say around at eight weeks, we want to lean the swaddle. And that’s when I really love the idea of going to a transitional sleep sack, or even just a sleep sack of some nature. The brands that I particularly like when I’m going from swaddle to sleep sack, the transitional sleep sack of the “zippity, zip” is my favorite. I love that one. It allows for some movement, but does provide a little bit of that swaddle feel. And then when we moved to the sleep sack, I really love the halo brand. My toddler actually still sleeps in a sleep sack is a great way for her to keep warm, without having all that loose bedding like we talked about and it also is a great way to kind of cue that sleep is coming. My four and a half month old, he actually gets quite excited when I put on a sleep sack, cause he knows he’s about to go to sleep. I love those products as well. Yeah, that’s awesome. I really I love the suggestion of the white noise. Lindsay and I both live in Denver. It’s extremely dry here, sometimes they even recommend a humidifier if you’re not looking to buy that. But I do think that a white noise machine is fantastic and I love the ones that do transition to an okay to wake alarm system. I think that just again, starting from the get, go with some really good habits on things that are toddlers can transition into those toddler years, practicing good sleep habits with that. Sleep sack. I also love I would agree with you. I like the brands that you have for sure, but I think take home messages. It’s not anything loose in the crib. It’s not like a blanket and it can provide some more warmth. So dressing baby in pajamas, and then putting sleep sack over is like having your own personal sleeping bag. But also less SIDS risk because it’s not loose. It’s never going to work its way up to your head. And wrap around your face and affect that. I love that too, for sure.

Thank you so much, Lindsay. I think today was super informative. Definitely those five sleep tips that we can start early on, I think sets us on the road for success. And I love the sleep products. I think we’re always looking for the latest, greatest and things that can help us. I think they’re helpful, but they’re yet not crutches that, you know, you can’t do without. I think easy to maintain and healthy and safe. We appreciate all of you listening into our podcast today. If you have interest in the notes about the content that Lindsay and I gave you today, you can click on the description in this podcast and download a quick PDF that will have everything that we talked about.

Also, if you’re interested in working with me, in helping coach you and your newborn from first breaths to first steps. You can also click on the description in this podcast until next time be well.