Welcoming a newborn into your family is one of the most joyous, life-changing experiences you’ll ever enjoy. It also means you that you may not get a good night’s sleep for the next few months! Newborns rarely sleep more than two to three hours at a time as their tiny bellies aren’t big enough to hold enough milk to keep them sleeping for longer than that.
However, there are several steps you can take to start instilling healthy sleep habits in just a few weeks. But, with all that said, take the time to adjust to your new life as a parent and your new baby! The first 6 weeks will be filled with many changes and adjustments so, take the time to only focus on you and your baby!
Tip #1: Develop healthy sleep props
A “sleep prop” is anything your baby needs in order to fall asleep. Know that there are positive and negative sleep props. Breastfeeding, holding, and rocking your baby are wonderful until neither of you sleep for very long. This is an example of a sleep prop and the reliance will become increasingly harder to overcome as your baby gets older.
Therefore, tip #1 is to encourage your baby to fall asleep on his own. The best way to do this is to put him in his crib while he’s sleepy but still awake so he can develop the skills necessary to fall asleep independently without a prop. Other positive sleep props include a blanket or stuffed animal once your baby is old enough and having a consistent bedtime routine.
Tip #2: Create a clear separation between “day” and “night”
Around three and four months old your baby will begin to understand that daytime is for active play and nighttime is for sleep. This might seem like a challenge when your newborn seems to do nothing but sleep, but here are ways to create a clear separation between the two periods:
- Adopt an “EAT – PLAY – SLEEP” pattern of activity during the day. This will aide in preventing any kind of sleep/feed association as you’ll often be feeding baby when she wakes from sleep.
- Take your baby outside during the day to enjoy as much fresh air as possible. Doctors say this helps set their circadian rhythms and encourages them to sleep better at night.
- When your baby wakes at night, stay in his room and keep the lights dim and the conversation to a minimum. He should learn as soon as possible that nighttime is not a time for play.
Tip# 3: Establish a bedtime routine
Establishing a good bedtime routine is a great way to help your baby organize days and nights and start to consolidate nighttime sleep more quickly. I suggest starting a bedtime routine off with a bath. It’s such a significantly different experience that your child will soon learn that a bath means bedtime is near. (Of course, if your baby absolutely hates baths, don’t force him to take one—your bedtime routine should consist of fun and relaxing activities that both you and your little one can enjoy.)
Here are some activities you could incorporate into your bedtime routine:
- Bedtime book
- Kisses goodnight and into crib or bassinet
By following a consistent routine, you will teach your baby to look forward to bedtime and anticipate what is about to happen next. Children are creatures of habit and they thrive on routine! You’ll be surprised by how fast your child learns a consistent routine!
Use these three tips to help you and your baby enjoy longer nights of sleep sooner. Remember that consistency creates success! It takes time to establish but you and your baby will enjoy more consistent days and nights with these tips. Enjoy your new little one and here’s to happy sleeping!
Courtney Landin is a child sleep specialist and nutritionist. Her philosophy is that sleep, nutrition, and exercise create a healthy and happy life. Her work focuses on educating parents about the importance of sleep, nutrition, and physical activity for the entire family and how to help them thrive!
Living Healthy is Happy!
Visit www.LivingHealthyHappy.com for more information.