In the first few months of life we want to focus on establishing basic rhythms and routines that will help babies learn to sleep better. We want to lay a foundation off good sleep habits while remembering to be lenient with them. Newborn sleep is very erratic and they can sleep in 30 minute spurts or hours at a time for a total about 16-17 hours. There is no set schedule for newborns and may not have any consistency.
Awake windows help us determine when little ones will most likely get tired. Newborns have sleep wake cycles that last around 45 - 90 minutes which means they will typically nap 45 - 90 minutes after they’ve woken up. Find your newborns sleep wake cycle window and be prepared for your little one to be ready for sleep during that time. If you are prepared for an awake window of 45 minutes you can prevent having an overtired baby!
Day/night confusion is something that most newborns go through during the first few weeks of life. They are used to being rocked to sleep in utero by mommy’s movements during the day and up when mommy was still/asleep at night time. So for the first few weeks of life they are up at night and asleep during the day. Day/night confusion can resolve in a week or can take a few weeks depending on your baby. To help them recognize daytime as a time to be up and interact you want to keep the lights on, open the blinds, turn on the TV, carry on a normal conversation, and interact with the little one as much as possible. At the night you want to do the opposite so have the lights dim and quiet down the noise. You can start a little bed time routine for night time sleep. The routine doesn't have to be anything complex and should only last about 15 minutes at this age. Even something as simple as putting on pajama's, giving a feeding, and singing a lullaby. As long as it's the same routine each night.
Sleep arrangements should be lenient, just get baby to sleep safely. Crib, bassinet, and pack n play are the only regulated terms in the U.S for safe sleeping. To make sure your little one is as safe as possible please follow these terms when it is possible and always follow the AAP safe sleep ABC’s. If you are out and your little one is asleep it is safer to have him in a wrap following the TICKS guidelines than sleeping in the carseat. Eventually you want to be able to put them down drowsy but awake so a little bit of crib time each day will make the world of difference.
Tummy time is recommended when you get home from the hospital. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 3 - 5 minutes 2 - 3 times a day. You can place your little one on their belly on your chest for those short periods of time. Tummy time is another way to help them stay awake during the day.
Find a soothing technique other than non-stop nursing.
We find that nonstop nursing or nursing to soothe becomes a problem if the child always needs to nurse to fall asleep. You should try swaddling. The pressure of swaddling is similar to what babies feel in utero. The guidelines to swaddling are pictured below. Getting the perfect swaddle can take a little bit of practice to get it perfectly but eventually you’ll be able to swaddle with one eye open! They also have really helpful infant swaddlers that make the process much easier.
Newborns are born with a Moro reflex which is also known as the startle reflex. A proper fitting swaddle usually helps newborns sleep much better. Some newborns protest the swaddle and seem to not like it at first. It does take some getting used too and once they accept it they’ll sleep much better. You can always swaddle them and then soothe/distract until they accept the swaddle. It’s always important to make sure you are swaddling your little one correctly. We typically stop swaddling around 3 - 5 months or when a little one starts to roll. As soon as they show the slightest sign of rolling, we stop swaddling.
Practice being outside of someones arms for a as long as the little one can take throughout the day. You want to put your little one down during the day to practice being outside mommy/daddy’s arms. You can put them in a bassinet, crib, swing, or another safe space for as long as they are happy. If you put them down and they start to cry you can pick them right up. It can be for a few minutes at a time or an hour depending on your little one. You just want to help them get used to being out of someones arms so eventually they will be able to go in their crib and sleep independently.
Newborn Bedtime Routine
You can start a little bed time routine for night time sleep. The routine doesn't have to be anything complex and should only last about 10-15 minutes at this age. Even something as simple as putting on pajama's, giving a feeding, and singing a lullaby. As long as it's the same routine before each sleep.
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Happy Sleeping ! 💤