Newborn Sleep Tips

 

baby I was just talking to a sweet friend in the throws of early motherhood the other day…and she was tired.  It reminded me, that is such a hard stage in life, and one where the entire family life gets disrupted for awhile.  It seems like the milestone where everyone can take a breath after the baby is born is when sleep starts returning for the parents.  I had written out these sleep tips a while ago for a friend, and thought I should share them with you.  Even if you’re not in the stage of dealing with baby sleep, maybe you know a friend with a young baby or who is pregnant and you could pass this on.

Taking the advice of some great books, a dash of common sense and following convictions that promote good boundaries has allowed me to have an amazing amount of sleep with young children. And I found that if you start early, it lasts.  The only time I get up in the middle of the night with  a 4, 3 and 1 year old is when there are thunderstorms or if the kids are sick.  And they all have slept 12 hours with one feeding by 3 months and through the night by 6 months.   With all the ways sleep affects our emotions, hormones, and immunity, a rested family is a happier, healthier family.

Newborn Sleep Tips

The first two weeks, don’t look at the clock. Just try for FULL feedings.  If you’re breastfeeding, it’s going to be several minutes on one side or the other (8 to 12 minutes). The baby will be super sleepy…you just try to wake him up (tickle feet, etc) to get a few minutes worth of feeding.

After two weeks, try this pattern: Feed, wake time, and then sleep. You’re trying to prevent the baby from associating sleep with food…. except at night. During night time feedings, feed and then right back down.  This one is super important.

In the first few weeks, keep a log of times fed and times of sleep.  Look for patterns.  You’ll probably find the baby eats 8-12 times in 24 hours in the first few weeks. After the first two weeks, I shoot to feed the baby every 2 ½ to 3 hours (except at night, I’ll let them go as long as they can) It gets longer apart between feedings as the baby gets older.

Timing feedings goes as follows: Say the baby starts eating at 0800am…the next feeding would be at 1030 or 1100. You time feedings from the time you started, NOT the time you ended. In the beginning that means you feed very often!

Put him in his crib or out of your room as soon as you are willing.  I can not sleep at all with a baby in the room, especially in the early days. They make lots of little noises and I am just too in tuned to them.  As long as they’re in ear shot with a monitor, it should be fine.

Shoot for a bedtime between 6pm and 8pm. You think that the later you keep the baby up, the earlier they will get up in the morning. THIS IS NOT TRUE. I have found (and research shows), that when babies go down BEFORE they get too tired, they will sleep longer and with a better quality sleep. I shoot for 7ish with my kids… All my babies by 3-6 months, sleep from 630 or 7pm until 630 to 730am.

Get in a bedtime routine sooner rather than later so he has signals that it’s nighttime.  Could be something like bath, read, bottle or feeding and down to bed.  Babies don’t need a bath every night but you sort of want to establish a wind down routine that signals bedtime.

Crying it out— This one is controversial, but also where parents who do the work to get the results.  I think probably all babies need a little sleep training…where they’ll spend a couple of nights of crying to learn that they don’t need to be fed all the time.   Somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks you could try to start letting the baby cry at night in some circumstances. My babies dropped to one or two feedings at night by 3 months naturally, but I always fed them and put them right back down. If they cried a little then, I let them. Usually with only one or two 45 minute sessions of crying after a middle of the night feeding when they didn’t want to go back to sleep, they learned that they needed to at night. They figured it out super fast that it was night time. As long as the babies are gaining a decent amount of weight and don’t have any other health problems,  I personally feel that the short term pain of listening to your baby cry brings long term gain.  The only effects I have seen in my kids is that they are good sleepers and good sleepers means happier mama, healthier kids and better behavior.

You will read a lot on the internet about how this will scar the babies for life, etc.  I don’t buy it.  It is certainly not o.k. to let infants cry for hours on end and there are different methods to dealing with it.  The Ferber method being one. They thrive on touch and sometimes just need to be close to you.  However, if all needs are met, I think they learn very quickly if they have to cry a bit, that nighttime means sleep.

You have to figure out your own values on this!

Naps… It’s very important to make room for dedicated daytime sleep. Most young babies take three naps a day (until 9 months or so). I saw patterns emerge by about three months, when babies become more alert and don’t just sleep all day.  Shoot for naps around 9 and 1pm ish, depending on what time they get up.  Most babies will sleep an hour and ½ or 2 at each nap.  Sleep cycles are at 45 minute intervals… if you hear a noise 45 minutes after a nap starts don’t run in right away. See if he can put himself back to sleep.

Swaddle– We got really good results when we swaddled our babies at night for the first few months so they felt secure.  People will say their babies don’t like it because they try to get out, but it seemed to calm all of mine.

Hope these help mamas looking for a little rest!
 
Blessings,
Heidi
 
Books I recommend:
  • The Happiest Baby on the Block
  • Babywise
  • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child*  Great book for addressing nighttime sleep and naps in all ages of kids.
  • The Baby Whisperer

 

Comments

  1. Dianne Huebner says:

    This advice really works, as I have watched those little grand babies, become the best sleepers, ever!!! It is nice for the parents too. Heidi has saved you a lot of impending break downs, if you just listen to her.

  2. Karrie Atwell says:

    You basically just described exactly what I did with both boys and had the exact same results. Thank goodness! I always joke that God gave me kiddos who are just this side of impossible to feed, but at least they’re great sleepers…lol!

  3. Mama D- thanks for the kudos! I know you use these now too, so you’re convinced!
    Karrie, so glad the same ideas worked for you. I like to hear what other moms are trying and what results they’re getting. Sleep is such a gift…now if there were only magic feeding tips! 🙂

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