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The first 6 months: How your baby’s sleep helps your family thrive

You already know that when you, your partner and other family members are well-rested, you’re all more productive, alert, happier. But did you know that building a healthy family can begin by establishing your baby’s sleep habits? Jump-start your family’s well-being with baby sleep tips, tactics and resources that will help you all get more sleep, and thrive together at every stage.

What to know about how sleep promotes health

The connection between sleep and health is well-documented. A good night’s rest directly affects:

  • Immune system
  • Cognition
  • Mood
  • Mental health
  • Life expectancy

…the list goes on and on. Knowing how sleep affects your baby’s physical and mental development‑‑from pregnancy to 6 months--will help you make the best decisions for you and your growing family. 

When you’re expecting: Sleep promotes brain development

Sleep is essential to your baby’s growth and development even before birth. From the time they’re the size of a small seed in your belly, babies spend about 95% of their time asleep. And it’s during this time that their brains experience the most rapid growth and development.

Understanding the connection between your baby’s sleep and brain development can help you set the stage for making sure your baby continues getting enough sleep after she arrives.

When you’ve got a newborn: Safe sleep reduces the risk of SIDS

After birth, your baby still needs a ton of sleep for healthy development: she’ll spend more time asleep than awake. So it’s vital to ensure that she’s sleeping safely.  Following safe sleep guidelines will help maintain healthy brain and body development—and reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), too.

The ABC’s of safe sleep were developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics to make the steps to safe sleep easy to follow:

A = Alone

B = on their Back

C = in their Crib

ABC's of safe sleep: reducing the risk of SIDS

These guidelines seem simple, but are incredibly effective and can reduce your baby’s risk by up to 60%. Familiarizing yourself with the standards will ensure that every time you put your little one to bed you’ll have more peace of mind – so you can rest easy too. Get the details on the ABC’s of safe sleep and more tips on reducing the risk of SIDS.

At 3 to 6 months: Sleep reduces postpartum depression

Sleep supports your baby’s mind – and, at the 6-month mark, it’ll also keep you from losing yours.

You’ve probably heard the joke before: “oh, you’re having a baby? You better stock up on sleep now!” or, “say goodbye to a good night’s sleep!” But in reality, sleep deprivation is no joke – and it affects many new parents. It’s one of the most prominent causes of postpartum depression for new mothers. And it can lead to mental, physical and emotional health problems for everyone in the family. 

The lack of sleep, especially during the first few months of a baby’s life, takes many parents by surprise. As mom Emily explains, “those first few months can be rough. The sleep deprivation is just overwhelming. It’s just insane how your mind can go crazy when you’re sleep deprived.”

Getting more sleep can magically transform a parent’s mood and family life. For example, when Emily started using the Nested Ben Zen Sack™, her daughter slept longer—and she did, too. In Emily’s review of the Zen Sack, she talks about how this enabled her to be a better parent:

Zen mom zone

Emily said: “An hour or two of nighttime sleep extra every night can make a huge, huge difference to your well-being, to how you function throughout the day, what kind of mom you’re able to be to your child.”


What you can do to create a soothing environment

Life changes after bringing home a baby. In many wonderful ways, these changes are good; other changes can leave you and your family exhausted. Having the right sleep tools, tactics, and advice will help you create the kind of household environment you envision for your new family—and ensure you’re all getting enough sleep.

When you’re expecting: Make sleep part of your nesting plan

You can prepare even before your baby arrives. While you’re ordering adorable Etsy nursery décor and adding the essentials to your registry, think about how you can create an environment that fulfills your nesting dreams, but will also help your baby through the womb-to-world transition.

Ambiance is key when it comes to keeping little ones calm and well-rested. If you know your ABC’s of safe sleep, you know you can skip the fancy crib bedding and blankets. Instead, consider black-out curtains, a white noise machine, and soothing sleepwear that will help make your baby’s nursery nap and bedtime friendly.  

Then think about what your registry might look like if you skipped out on all the material things. What do you really need to make sure you create and maintain a calm, comforting home for your newborn? (Spoiler alert: they’re not all on the shelves in stores.) Let our Take charge of your sleep action plan guide you in preparing all the non-tangibles you’ll need, like a supportive community and quiet space just for you.

When you’ve got a newborn: Keep your baby cuddled in Zen Sleepwear™

For newborns, the world is overwhelming and exhausting outside of the womb. Swaddling can help recreate the feeling of being in the womb and prevent overstimulation to help your baby sleep better.

Swaddling has been used as a calming technique for babies for thousands of years. As soon as your baby was born, she was probably swaddled by nurses to help ease the transition from womb to world. When done safely and correctly, swaddling has been proven to help improve newborn sleep. Our top 9 do’s and don’ts of swaddling will guide you on how to get a snug, safe swaddle every time.

Our Zen Swaddle® can help your baby sleep even longer and more peacefully, With three lightly weighted Cuddle Pads on the chest and sides, it mimics your gentle embrace, soothing your baby to sleep quickly.

For Melanie and her daughter Aubrielle, that made all the difference.

Zen mom zone

Melanie said: "She would only sleep in my arms, every time I put her down she would wake up instantly, so I was not getting sleep and she was not getting sleep. Now we put her in the Zen Swaddle and it is amazing…I can get my housework done, I can get my school work done, she’s getting the sleep she needs, and I am not sleep deprived anymore!”

 

You can enhance these results with a few simple changes to your baby’s environment, so your baby’s sleep patterns aren’t disrupted. Make sure you’re keeping the nursery between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, layering Zen Sleepwear appropriately, and read up on our Sleep tips for chilly weather.

Sometimes, maintaining a calm environment can be difficult. Life happens on the go – which means sometimes sleep does too. Our Zen Footies™ and Zen Bodysuits™ were designed with the same Cuddle Pads as our Zen Swddle, to help your baby sleep peacefully in the crib, the stroller, the car seat and everywhere in between.

And that’s important: because knowing you can get your baby to sleep easily—even when you’re on the go—will make it easier to stick to nap and bedtime schedules. Mom of two and vlogger, Marley,  suggests a little extra planning ahead of time. Her sleep tips for travel paired with our Zen PJs are the ultimate new mom sleep hacks that will keep your baby snoozing on their regular schedule, even while you’re away.

At 3 to 6 months: Set calming, consistent routines

Although newborns have erratic sleep schedules for the first few months, implementing a soothing bedtime routine can help your baby sleep better, more easily master transitions, and learn to develop healthy sleep habits.

When you’re developing your bedtime routine, make sure to keep it simple and calming. You can use our bedtime routine checklist to help. If used consistently throughout the first 6 months, this routine will become your baby’s signal that it’s time to sleep. At first, use the routine before their longest stretch of sleep (usually at night). Then, as their sleep patterns become more predictable around 3 months, you can set your bedtime routine to a specific time every night to help develop a more consistent sleep schedule.

Once nap times start to follow more of a schedule as well, a shortened version of this routine can be used before nap times, too. Since you’ve been performing these same activities at bedtime every night, your baby will associate them with all sleep times. Find more details on how a routine can help and get other nap time tips in Wasn’t in the baby books: when everyone wants to nap except my baby.

How to stay supported in your sleep goals

Whether you’re still preparing the nursery, figuring out the first few weeks, or navigating out of the newborn stage, you’ll need support—from friends, family, your partner, and yourself. A little pat on the back can go a long way in reassuring yourself that you’re rocking this whole parenting thing. And building your confidence as a parent can help you stick to your sleep goals.

When you’re expecting: Engage with your partner

From the moment you found out you were expecting, you probably started envisioning what life would look like for your little family. How can you make that vision your reality once baby actually arrives? Connect with your partner. Talk to them about what you’d both like your family life to look like then make a plan about how you can achieve it.

To help guide you, Nested Bean founder, Manasi Gangan, put together the ultimate baby registry. Spoiler: you can’t find these items in any store, but they’re sure to help you build the calm, loving home you’re wanting for your family. Check out her Calming baby registry: the list stores don’t want you to know about. Then download our Sleep Action Plan to get started.

When you’ve got a newborn: Learn how other new parents do it

In the first few months with a newborn, learning from other new parents can be a godsend. No, we’re not talking about that unsolicited, outdated advice you’ve already gotten from your crazy aunt and nosy mailman. We mean practical, real advice from parents who’ve been there.

Join an online community of like-minded moms where you can post questions, get advice, and even rant a little after a tough day of parenting. Find resources, like the Zen Blog, that provide informative articles and real advice from real moms on everything from colic to the 4 month sleep regression to sleep training. Just look for the “Zen Mom Zone” section and/or videos submitted by our mom community in our articles.

We all need a helping hand sometimes. For many parents, the Zen Swaddle is that helping hand. Get a firsthand look at how Melanie used the Zen Swaddle to help her daughter Aubrielle sleep better. With the help of the Zen Swaddle, she also was able to free up some time for herself.

At 3 to 6 months: Become your own brand of “perfect”

Here’s the biggest challenge in becoming a new parent: learning not to doubt yourself. There is no one perfect sleep solution; every family is different and one size does not fit all. So don’t stress because you’re not the same kind of mom as Sally down the street or when some internet mom-shamer attacks your baby’s sleep schedule.

And there is no one type of perfect parent, either, so don’t be swayed by made up “standards” of perfection. Armed with the information, tactics, and support you need to create a thriving family, just see what works best for your brood. You’ll start to discover your own special brand of ‘perfect’.

And hey, that’s the fun of it.