First things first, remember – and this is important – there is light at the end of the tunnel and it will get better. But you are probably reading this because the adrenaline from childbirth and bringing baby home has worn off, the family and friends have stopped visiting, and you are now facing bizarre nights and whacky sleep days on your own. That light at the end of the tunnel feels pretty distant at this point.
So let’s see what we can do to make these days and weeks a touch easier on you and your baby.
Make Sure the Baby Eating Well
If you are struggling with bad nights and frustrating naps, double check that the feedings are going well. If your baby is not eating comfortably, then his sleep will be impacted. A full feed with minimal gas will yield better sleep, as compared to a baby who is struggling to latch or take the bottle easily.
Prioritize Awake Time during the Day
Make sure she is getting feedings every 3 hours during the day and not napping through these feedings. Take her outside to get sun light and fresh air – trust me, you need this too! Sunlight helps set the clock to end day/night confusion.
Prioritize Good Naps and Feedings over Props
However remember your infant needs a little help these first 12-16 weeks. For now, your best naps might be on your body, in the carrier, and when in the bassinet, fully swaddled. It is better at this point to get good naps and good feedings then worrying about the props that you have to use to get there. Just make sure your product choices are safe for sleep.
Avoid Late Night Play
At night, it is normal for your infant to have a late bedtime. She will probably be ready for the night, when you go to bed, to make noises, seem awake, and even be awake in the middle of the night. She is still developing melatonin production so might not really understand what night sleep means just yet. You don’t have to play with or stimulate her if she is awake at night. Just stay boring, keep the room dark, and the white noise on.
Create Ideal Environments for Sleep
Ideally your baby naps in a quiet dark place with white noise and sleeps in a similar environment at night. If you are eager to have a flexible sleeper, I get it, establish good sleep behavior and habits first, and then you can mix up the environments down the road.
Reach out for Help
As adults, we need 4-5 hours of straight sleep to function the next day. I know that this number seems low, but if you have a newborn, you and your partner should devise a system where you take turns so you can restore yourselves accordingly. Have a good friend come by in the evening, so you can go to bed early or come by early in the morning, so you can go back to bed.
For more than 10 years, Brooke Nalle, MS Ed. 2003, Owner and Founder of sleepy on hudson, LLC, has worked with thousands of families to create developmentally appropriate sleep solutions that support the temperament of the child and parenting style of the family. She is one of Kim West’s first 50 Gentle Sleep Coaches and specializes in breast feeding friendly sleep training. She leads workshops throughout New York City and Westchester and most recently launched her new toddler sleep program, Big Kid Sleep. Brooke is the author of I go to sleep all by myself. She lives with her family just outside of New York City.
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