Learn to understand your baby's sleep cycle. Don't assume that if your baby wakes up after a nap, they're sleeping well. Understanding your baby's sleep cycle will help you assess the quality of their sleep. Learning to be a good sleeper takes time, patience, a continuous routine, and happy space to sleep. None of us go into a deep sleep and sleep like that all night. We all sleep in cycles. When we fall asleep, we go into light sleep, then deep sleep, then deep sleep, then deep sleep, then light sleep. The light sleep stage is called REM (rapid eye movement), and this is when we dream. This is also when we are more likely to wake up. During REM sleep, you may see your baby's eyelids moving or fluttering.
Sometimes you can play the trumpet and a sleeping baby won't move, and sometimes opening their bedroom door will wake them up. This is because they are in deep sleep or rapid eye movement sleep. The full sleep cycle for babies is about 40 minutes, but as we move from childhood to adulthood, this cycle gets longer. If your child is disturbed by noise, feels cold, hungry, wakes up in a different place than where they fell asleep or feels insecure, then they will wake up in REM sleep. This is why it is so important for babies to eat well and for children to eat well during the day. It's also why I swaddle my babies at night and hold them in my arms, and why I don't always carry them to bed. It's also important for babies and children to have a dark, quiet space to enjoy sleep.
Swaddling - I believe that if newborns are swaddled every time they sleep, they can sleep for an extra hour in the first few months. They love the security of swaddling and will adjust more quickly because it mimics the feeling of the cramped space they were in when they first emerged from the womb. Babies have a natural startle reflex at birth. This means that when they are disturbed by noise or the sensation of falling, they will jerk their arms and legs out. If your baby is swaddled, they will be quiet because the movements are minimal, whereas if they are not swaddled, they tend to punch themselves in the face and start writhing until they wake up because they need comfort. I've also seen babies who are swaddled every time they sleep learn to know that swaddling means it's time to sleep, and by three months old, you'll see them turn their heads and snuggle into sleep before you put the swaddle on.
Blankets - In the winter, cover your baby with a blanket to keep them warm and safe. I can't sleep without a blanket, and babies are no exception. Babies are small and they prefer soft, lightweight muslin cotton baby blankets, and most of us choose weighted cable knitted sherpa blankets for ourselves to increase sleep security and sleep better!
Blackout blinds - Keep your baby's bedroom dark to prevent them from being woken up by early birds, and if your baby senses a change in light, they will struggle to wake up from their sleep!
While dummies can help babies who cry but don't sleep, they often cause other problems. When babies go through lighter sleep cycles, they will cry and wake up if the dummy falls out of their mouths. You end up going to them just to put the dummy back down. I prefer to put them down for a few minutes to cry and then sleep more soundly and peacefully throughout the night.