No life event comes with as much uncertainty as a new baby. There are more questions in those first few months than there will be for the next two years, and a lot of them will undoubtedly center on baby’s sleep.
Today, I have 3 great tips for new parents to get their new bundle of joy off to a great start in their sleep habits, help them recognize the signs of a tired baby, as well as what to do when their little one just doesn’t seem to want to go to sleep.
You know, a lot of people say to me, “Gosh, I wish I knew then what I know now about sleep. It would have made a huge difference.” And I absolutely agree.
When we know more, we do better. And so I want to give you some tips today for dealing with a newborn.
I want to share with you, basically, three tips that could really change the sleep experience for you with your newborn baby.
The first thing is timing. Now, newborn babies, and this is gonna come as a surprise to a lot of you, newborn babies can really only tolerate about 45 minutes of time awake before they need to sleep again.
That is not a lot of time if you consider a feed takes 20 to 30, you know, a diaper change, maybe a little bit of playtime, and now it’s time to go back to bed.
A lot of people wait until a baby gets fussy, and then they wonder what’s wrong with the baby, right?
And fussiness, a cranky baby often looks like a hungry baby. And a lot of people misread the signs. And what ends up happening is we end up feeding our baby for both hunger-related issues and feeding our baby around fatigue-related issues.
And it happened to me, it happens to a lot of moms that I work with, that their feeding’s doing double duty now, right? It’s not just filling a tummy, it’s also helping a baby sleep. And the two can become so entwined that you’re still nursing your 10-month-old three times a night because that’s the association, that feeding or nursing or bottle-feeding and sleep are somehow hand-holding each other through the night. And then that’s a really hard habit to break and teach a baby to sleep well without.
So keep an eye on the clock. If it’s been 45 minutes to an hour and you’re noticing that your newborn’s getting a bit grouchy or fussy, try for sleep first. Not saying don’t feed hungry babies. I’m definitely not saying that. But try sleep first.
And you might find that, yes, that’s what was wrong. She was tired, she went and had a great nap, she woke up refreshed and had a great feed and a little bit of playtime and back to bed, and your whole day can move in this really beautiful fashion of, you know, having a nice, full feed, a little bit of playtime, nice, long nap, and so on all throughout the day. So that’s definitely important to keep in mind.
Also, the second thing would be to remember that it’s not always your job to get this newborn baby to sleep. Now, I would have loved for someone to tell me that when I had my first son. I really did think it was my job to get him to fall asleep.
In fact, the thought of putting him down before he was fully asleep didn’t even enter my mind, didn’t even occur to me. I would rock and bounce and feed and pace and do whatever I absolutely could until he was asleep, not just asleep, but really asleep before I would move him.
And we know that that is not the best way to encourage good sleep habits. We want newborns to at least sniff out a path for getting themselves to sleep so that they’re not always relying on extra help from you.
So, a few times a day, give it a shot, right? She’s had her full feed, she’s had a little bit of activity time, we’re reaching that 45-minute mark. I’m gonna try putting her in her bassinet and I’m gonna see what happens. And I promise you, at least some of the time, it won’t always work, and that’s okay, but at least some of the time, she’s just gonna drift off to sleep, and you won’t have had to do anything, and that is a beautiful thing because that means she’s figuring out how to do this on her own, that she can do it on her own, that she doesn’t require a lot of extra action happening in order to do it, and it’s moving her down the right path for sleeping well.
Another thing to keep in mind is darkness. Now, we do know that babies have a little bit of day and night confusion when they enter this world, but not as much as you might think. Our rising melatonin levels and cortisol levels sort of simulate, at least while a baby’s in the womb, that there’s a body rhythm, that there’s a circadian rhythm of day and night. So it’s there, it just needs a little guidance.
But as far as sleep is concerned, I would make sure you let your room is quite dark for sleep. That’s really gonna help encourage good-quality naps, longer stretches in the night. And then during the day, make sure she’s getting exposed to lots of sunlight or daylight. So, do your feed by the window, go for walks, make sure all the curtains are open so that you help her body clock get in line with the rhythm of day and night a lot faster.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!