Newborn Sleep Basics Part I

February 9, 2018

“Think in the morning. Act in the Noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.”—William Blake

 

If only it were that simple with a newborn William Blake! Right before my daughter was born a few years ago I remember thinking, “Those first few weeks are going to be tough but eventually, I know she will start naturally sleeping through the night.” I could not have been more wrong. If there’s one thing I have learned in parenting a child it’s that they actually need to be taught how to sleep on their own. There’s a small percentage of babies that actually don’t need a lot of guidance to learn how to sleep, but from what I have seen and read, that is not the majority. Just ask your friends in local Mommy and Me groups and classes. They are all struggling or have had challenges with sleep in those first few years of their child’s life.

A lot of sleep training books will tell you to wait until your newborn is at least four months old adjusted before implementing any sleep training and they are right, however, there are still things you can do as a parent of a newborn to help prevent the need for sleep training.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you started to do a few simple things for the first four months of your baby’s life that would help your child learn to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own? Let me review some things you can start doing now to help create a healthy sleep foundation for your newborn.

  1. Make sleep a family priority- This may seem like a given, but many parents I have met frequently forgo the nice nap time at home for a nap on the go in the stroller or car seat. I was 100% that crazy parent that raced home after a library class to make sure I put my daughter down for her 12:30 nap. The more you as a parent make sleep a priority for your child, the faster your child will learn how to optimize the opportunities given for sleep.

  2. Learn your baby’s sleepy cues- The better understanding you have of when your child is actually tired, the more attuned you’ll be to your child’s needs overall. You’ll learn the difference between a hunger cry vs a tired cry.

  3. Consistent Routine- While it may be too early to put your child on a schedule you can start to create a consistent routine throughout the day to follow, such as Food- bottle or nurse, Activity- sunshine/daylight/tummy time, Sleepy time-naps/bedtime, Take a break; or as I like to call it FAST.

  4. Soothing routine- This will be the routine you follow as your child gets older to cue them in to sleep. Come up with a combination of soothing activities and follow that exact order every time before night time and at nap time. Examples of this can be bath, bottle, books, nursery rhymes, bed. Notice how the bottle is not right before bed?

Stay tuned for part II of Newborn Sleep Basics...

 

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Emily Klein, LPC

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