Newborn Sleep 101

“I’m never going to sleep again.” 

I have felt this way in the beginning with both of my babies! But it can get better.

 I wanted to share a little more in-depth about the things that have really helped my husband and I get our sons (and ourselves!) on a schedule when they were newborns. I consider a baby younger than 4 months to be a newborn. Doctor’s do not recommend sleep training until a baby is 4 months of age.

I have learned that the earlier you start helping a baby sleep independently the less sleep training you actually have to do along the way. So why not start from the beginning?

Here’s a few things that helped us along the way with sleep in those early months.

  • Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle. Newborns have the the startle reflex which will wake them up. That’s why swaddles are FANTASTIC in the first few weeks. Some of my favorites have been the Miracle Blanket and the Ergo Cocoon. Swaddling baby will help create that snug feeling of being in the womb and give you both more sleep in the beginning weeks.
  • White Noise. I hate sleeping in silence. I think babies do too! Also, my toddler is SO INCREDIBLY LOUD ALL THE TIME so white noise is necessary for my second baby to get any sleep during the day. I have this sound machine. “That ambient sound a baby hears in the womb – mainly blood running through your blood vessels and the movement of your stomach and intestines – actually reaches the level of about 90 decibels (about the level of background noise in an apartment next to an elevated train).” (share.care.com)
  • Swing away! Both my sons have lived in this swing which we bought used, for the first couple months of their lives. Praise the Lord for that swing. I recommend borrowing a swing or buying used in the case that your baby doesn’t like the swing. I remember one person telling me that it would be difficult to break the habit of the swing. Not true! You can decrease the speed every week and gently ween baby. Do whatever you have to, to survive these days. No one’s 16-year-old is still sleeping in a swing, seriously.
  • Dream Feed. Dream feeding is the act of feeding your baby, later in the night (but not too late) usually before you go to bed. It’s called a dream feed because baby is usually in a deep sleep and will not wake for this feed. It can help to fill baby’s tummy and give you both a longer stretch of sleep. This feed will be the very last feed you drop, when baby is ready to be weaned of all night feedings. Pam at Wee Bee Dreaming talks about the appropriate number of night feeding babies require for each age. Check it out here.
  • Day and Night Confusion. Help baby sort her days and nights, QUICK. Make it a priority in those first few weeks and you will find that you all sleep better. Lots of brightness during the day, open windows and don’t tiptoe around baby. DARK at night with swaddling, white noise and a baby cave that encourages deep sleep. Wake baby up every couple hours to eat, during the day. Let her sleep as long as she wants at night, unless your doctor has directed otherwise. You want her to take lots of calories during the day so that she doesn’t have to make up for it during the night.
  • Schedule. As soon as you can, start a simple schedule with your little baby! Even a basic, flexible schedule can bring some peace and order to your life. Rachel, A Mother Far From Home has some great schedules for babies, appropriate for each month of age. Remember, nothing is set in stone and every day may vary but having a simple routine can really help with peace of mind.
  • A Pre-sleep routine goes a long way in helping baby settle faster and sleep longer. My son Jack literally starts closing his eyes when I carry him into his room to put him down for a nap because he already knows what is coming. Lights off, white noise on, change diaper and put sleep sack on, soother and rock for awhile. At night it’s bath, jams, sleep sack, bottle, rock and night night! It doesn’t always go perfectly but I stick to my routine and he gets better every day.
  • Don’t keep baby awake longer, hoping for more sleep. An overtired baby will not be a sleeping baby. Catch baby before she’s too tired! Most newborns can only manage about 20 minutes to an hour of awake time in the first few months.

I’m not expert and I only know what has worked for my family. I wish you great success in sleep. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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4 thoughts on “Newborn Sleep 101

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