How social distancing can help find more sleep for your baby

By Carrie Bruno

March 25, 2020

Carrie is the founder of The Mama Coach. She is a RN, IBCLC lactation consultant, sleep consultant and mama of two little guys. She leads the North American team of Mama Coaches and is committed to making motherhood easier.

Trying to find the positives amidst this pandemic can be a big challenge.  We are worried about our health, our parents, our children, our jobs.  The list goes on and on.

Yet, this is our current reality.  Many of you are finding yourselves socially isolating at home with your babies.  Maybe you were working outside the home, and now find yourself always within it.  Maybe you are on maternity leave, but all of your social outings with your baby have been cancelled.  Motherhood all by itself can be isolating, never mind adding in a pandemic and government mandated social isolation precautions.

How do we find the bright side?  The answer lies with sleep.  We are going to help you find, track, and understand your baby’s circadian rhythm.  Thankfully, being home all day will make this easy.  No more car naps, naps on the way to baby yoga, and dinners out with friends.  These outings are beautiful and will come again, so don’t distress.  For this moment, lets work on building your baby a schedule that will give you a more predictable hot minute to yourself (cause we all know we need it!).

This is where things get interesting.  There are many schools of thought when it comes to awake times and babies.  Some believe we should strictly watch the clock, and base awake times on the age of your baby.  Has some merit, but how does this work well for every baby.  The truth is, it doesn’t.

The other option, which we have the most success with, is to become a baby watching detective!  Learn to watch for that first sign of sleepiness… and boom!  It’s nap time.  One issue arrises when babies don’t have obvious sleepy signs.  Another problem is that sometimes babies fall into a short nap, short awake time cycle (all of you mamas are currently nodding in agreement)!  Your baby may legitimately look tired, goes down easy for their nap, yet is awake 27 minutes later.  Not.  long.  enough!  There are a few things we can do to gently stretch her awake time and encourage those naps to lengthen.

The best way to help your baby have longer naps is finding the balance between her sleepy cues and the average awake time for a baby her age.

Photo credit: Jennifer Leigh Photography

Lets start with cues:

Depending on your baby’s age, it can become pretty obvious when they are tired.  One yawn doesn’t mean it is nap time, yet if we wait until baby is crying uncontrollably we have missed the window.

A great way to know if your baby is tired, is to start the timer from the time your baby comes out of the crib (not from the time you first hear them) and then watch intently.  They start out so happy, feed, and then play.  When you find yourself literally having to do a song and dance to keep them entertained, or walk around with them, bouncing them on your hip, they are likely tired.  Note the time and write it down.

Then notice how long your baby fusses once you put them in the crib.  If we have the timing right, it should take around 5-10 minutes of fussing, talking, or playing until they fall asleep.  If they fall asleep in under 5 minutes they were likely overtired.  This means they will naturally have a shorter nap.  When overtired our brains stay in light Rapid Eye Movement (REM).  If they fall asleep way over the 10 minutes mark, it likely means your baby needs to build more sleep drive through more awake time.  Do this for every nap, as well as between naps, and at bedtime.  Once you have tracked your baby’s sleep tendencies for a few days, you will begin to see a pattern emerging.

Photo credit: Jennifer Leigh Photography

Let’s recap what you need to document in order to start to seeing a trend.

  • Time out of the crib to time back into the crib (do this for each awake period)
  • Time it took baby to fall asleep once placed in the crib for sleep
  • How long baby slept (for naps and first stretch in the night)

Keep track of this for three days with our free awake time tracker, and let’s see if you can identify an emerging pattern. What pattern is emerging? What timing appears to work best?

All of this data can be overwhelming, and this is where a sleep expert can help.  As Registered Nurses, we can assist you when it comes to assessing the data in order to find your baby’s perfect awake time window.

The Mama Coaches are pleased to offer a FULL customized sleep plan, built specifically for your baby with an investment of $99 + tax.  All we need is a completed data sheet (download HERE) as well as a health intake form for your baby, in order to fully understand their feeding patterns, medical history and sleep environment(s).  The more information you share with us, the more specific your plan can be.

After reviewing all of your information, we will then go to work on building a customized sleep plan for your baby, which will help you meet YOUR sleep goals.  It isn’t up to us to tell you how your baby should sleep, rather we will use our assessment skills to build a plan that will fit your life.

The next step will be to join a Mama Coach during a 90 minute webinar, where they will walk you through step by step how to find sleep for your baby.  The Mama Coach will spend a lot of time helping you understand the science of sleep, and why your baby is behaving the way they are.  It is so much easier to implement our suggestions and make changes to your baby’s routine when you understand the “why” behind the request.  The Mama Coach will talk about feeding and bedtimes, as well as developmental milestones and the impact they can have on sleep, night time, and naps.

There is always the option for more support from your Mama Coach should you need it!

We would love to help you find more time for yourself and more rest for your baby.  Start by downloading the awake time tracking chart, and signing up for one of our webinars here.  Space is limited and we hope to see you there.  Trust us when we say mamas, this is life changing for only $99 + tax.

Sending so much love and support your way!

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