How to Help Your Newborn Sleep
During the first few weeks after baby is born, you can expect your little one to sleep a total of sixteen to seventeen hours in a 24-hour period. Newborns are biologically immature; by this I mean the biological clock that helps our bodies with sleep is not yet developed. Newborn sleep is usually divvied up in four to five hour chunks throughout the day and night (this looks slightly different for every child).
Our primary focus the first 6 to 8 weeks after birth is bonding with your little one, recovery for mom, and establishing breastfeeding if you’ve chosen to do so. Be patient and do not force sleep at this stage. I promise it will come in time!
That being said, it does not mean you cannot start fostering healthy sleep habits early on. Here are some tips to help begin establishing a healthy sleep foundation from day 1:
Keep awake windows (time your baby spends awake) at 45-60 minutes
Swaddle for every sleep period
Keep baby awake and in well lit areas during feedings throughout the day
Use dim light for feedings and other interactions (diaper changes) at night
Get outside! Exposure to light will help fix Day/Night confusion
Use a pacifier to help soothe and settle
It’s okay to rock, bounce, and hold your newborn to sleep (They need a little extra help settling the first few months of life)
Be patient with yourself and your baby
After 8 weeks (or even earlier), as your little one continues to develop through the first 4 months, here are some additional steps you can take to encourage sleep for your new babe without forcing it:
1. Decide on a consistent sleeping place.
Now is a great time to get your little used to the crib (still room sharing, of course!) and less dependent on props, like swings, or bouncy seats in order to fall asleep.
2. Start a bedtime routine to relax your little one before sleep.
Routines are used to cue your baby that sleep is coming. Your goal is to relax them into a drowsy state and place them in their crib just before they're fully asleep. Newborns need a little extra help to settle into sleep, so things like bouncing, rocking, or even a pacifier are useful in helping your little one settle into restful sleep.
3. Get outside!
The sun naturally drives our biological clocks; exposure to sunlight is one of the best ways to get those clocks on track as your little one continues to grow & develop these systems. As soon as your baby wakes, turn on lights and open blinds for natural light. If you’re feeling up to it, walks in the morning and evening are great natural way to help as well!
Unfortunately, our tiny humans don’t come with an instruction manual and each one is different. We cannot control when exactly our babies will sleep and how quickly their biological systems will develop. However, we CAN build a foundation that will foster a healthy sleep attitude and set your baby on the path of independent, restorative sleep. Following these guidelines will help you do just that! You've got this mama!
If you are a new or expecting mama looking for more guidance on how to start establishing healthy sleep routines, click here to check out my Prenatal & Newborn Sleep package.