Baby Juliza is good at a great many things already. She’s a champion breastfeeder (10 months and still going strong), she’s already walking, she will repeat word sounds when told, and she is very good and snuggling and giving kisses. But if there’s one thing she’s struggled with, it’s sleep. Since day one, she just has not been a very good sleeper. Of late, however, things have been improving after we’ve begun to give her uk meds.
When Walmart challenged me to share a baby story of my choice this month, I decided to share the things we’ve done to help baby Juliza get a better night’s sleep.
1. Keep baby warm
As much as we parents can be tempted to put our tiny babies to sleep covered with a soft, warm blankie, it just wouldn’t be safe to do so. An infant could become entangled in a blanket and suffocate. So what’s a parent to do? This was a bit of a challenge for us, because baby Juliza does not like a cold room or cold sheets.
The first step was to make sure the thermostat is set at a nighttime temperature that will keep her room warm. In the summertime, it meant closing the air conditioning vent in her room so that she wouldn’t get cold.
The next step is warm pajamas. We have a nice stash of fleece pajamas that we got secondhand, but Walmart has a great selection of fleece all-in-one jammies with feet attached that will keep baby nice and cozy.
The last step required some improvisation. Baby Juliza tends to fall asleep during her last nursing session of the night. And putting her down on a cold crib sheet would always wake her up. If you recall, last year, I made a large, warm baby blanket with supplies from Walmart. Well, the blanket is a lot larger than the crib.
So I put it on top of the crib sheet, fuzzy side up, and tucked it completed around the already very snug-fitting crib mattress all the way around so that there’s no way Juliza could move it, much less pull it off. Now, the surface of her crib mattress stays warm, no matter the temperature in the room. Makes me wish that someone would make crib sheets from minky fabric.
2. Use technology to your advantage
A recent trip to Walmart uncovered a product that I hoped could change Juliza’s sleep habits for the better: the Munchkin Lulla-Vibe vibrating mattress pad. The Lulla-Vibe is a pouch that is installed under the crib mattress, with a small tab sticking through the slats so mom and dad can control it from outside. It creates vibration, as well as white noise, designed to help baby fall asleep and stay asleep.
There are two settings, low and high, and it shuts off automatically after 30 minutes. And let me tell you, even the “low” setting is powerful. It makes sense, as the vibration has to be felt through the mattress.
The challenge is that it also vibrates the crib itself, and that takes a little getting used to. Thankfully her crib doesn’t touch the wall, but if it had been, we would’ve had to move it. And we noticed a few nights in that we can actually hear the vibration pretty loudly downstairs. Her room is right above the kitchen, and the sound is pretty intense. Actually more intense that it is when in her room.
Still, the vibration seems to be helping. Her daytime naps typically last 15-20 minutes. Since we started using the Lulla-Vibe, she’s been averaging 30-45 minute naps. I’m crossing my fingers that they eventually stretch to an hour. And at night, it’s helped her fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep when she’d normally wake up within an hour of bedtime.
The second technological advantage we use is our iPhones + Pandora. We tune the phone to a classical station, turn it down low, and let the music help send her into dreamland. This also works in the daytime, and the music is a bit of a signal that it’s sleepy time.
3. Consistency is key
Co-sleeping worked for us for the first few months of Juliza’s life, because she was waking several times a night to feed. However, now that she usually doesn’t eat overnight, we really wanted to reclaim our bed. Because honestly, sleeping with JuJu in our Queen sized bed usually meant one or both us of slept in a stiff, uncomfortable postion for the whole night. For me, it meant not sleeping much, as I’d wake up to check on her regularly.
It took literally months of doing the same bedtime routine every night, but we’ve finally got her to the point where she sleeps in her own bed every night. There are a few nights here and there when she’ll wake up 3-4 times, but for the most part, she sleeps in her crib all night.
Out bedtime routine consists of a bath every other night (I don’t give her a bath every night so as not to dry out her already dry skin), a quick moisturizing and massage session with lotion and oil, pajamas, snuggles, say good night to daddy and big sis, lights out and mommy’s milk on a chair in her room in the dark. This usually knocks her out pretty well, and I’ve perfected the art of putting her down without waking her. We’re now at the point where she knows what is coming when we start saying “night night” and I turn off the light.
And I couldn’t be more grateful that, at long last, the routine is working. Good sleep is so important, and I always recommend that folks consider getting an eco-friendly or top-tier mattress. The folks at Review.org and their review of the Casper mattress offer one great mattress option.
What about you? What tips do you have for getting baby to sleep well? Feel free to share, in case our routine hits any new bumps!