As parents, we often try to do everything ourselves before seeking help. What if we had the support before we even knew we needed the support? What if we asked for help before we hit rock bottom? During the early years of parenthood, everything seems to change so fast. Our newborns start smiling, then laughing; first they roll, then crawl, then walking in what seems like a blink of an eye. They go from nursing or taking a bottle to trying their first foods. They go from cooing to babbling to speaking words. Everything changes so fast, including their sleep needs.
The sooner we acknowledge that our children's sleep needs change almost monthly, the sooner we can help them form healthy sleep habits. Some children may seems like naturally good sleepers, but in reality, the parents and caregivers have set their children up for success. Starting from the moment a baby is born, parents need to help them navigate life.
Their little bodies aren't meant to survive on their own. Mothers who wish to nurse - help their child latch, mother's who wish to give a bottle - help their child latch to the bottle. The same support that is giving to feeding, should also be given to sleeping.
Babies spend 9 months in a dark, safe womb; sleeping soundly while the mother moves around during the day and typically are more awake during the night (or so it seems, ha!) while the mother is trying to get some sleep for herself. If you have been pregnant, you know sleep doesn't come easy towards the end of pregnancy (full term) as your baby had less room to move around; and what always seemed to be when we were trying to sleep.
So you ask, what can we do as parents to set our newborns up for sleep success. There are a few things!
Swaddle - swaddling your baby will help with their moro reflex
Aim for 1 nap a day on a flat safe surface - crib, bassinet, pack n play. Enjoy all those newborn cuddles and contact naps the rest of the day!
Follow wake windows - babies 2 months and under typically can only stay awake for 45 to 60 minutes
Form a bedtime routine - feed, swaddle, dark room, sound machine - those first 2 months bedtime or overnight sleep can start anywhere from 7 - 11pm!
Place your baby down awake. If you follow wake windows and their cues, they will fall asleep on their safe sleep surface
Those early days are hard! Everyone is sleep deprived, newborns don't magically sleep through the night by a certain weight or certain age - as much as we would like that to be true! Newborn sleep cycles are only 30-45 minutes; it is completely normal for you to feel like they just fell asleep. You've gone to the bathroom, gotten yourself a drink and they are up again. There is light at the end of the tunnel, even if it doesn't feel like it in the moment! I'm a mom of 4; I have been in your shoes and still decided to do it again, and again and again!
The earlier you can start teaching them independent sleep, the easier it will be, as they get older and do more naps in their crib for them to fall asleep. And you won't feel that you spend your whole day trying to get them to sleep.
Enjoy every moment of those newborn cuddles and contact naps! Don't feel pressure to always put your baby down - hence why I said start with 1 nap in a crib/bassinet/pack n play a day! Those early days are long but months are short.
If you need more information on setting your baby up for sleep success, click here to book your free call today to talk about working together so we can chat about your child's sleep challenge, your sleep goals and how my program will help you. Not only first time parents need help. I started newborn sleep shaping with my THIRD - yes, my third kid! Never feel embarrassed or anxious or undeserving of the help when it comes to sleep!
Wishing you restful sleep,
About Danielle: Danielle is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach and founder of The Restful Haus, where she helps families 1:1 with their children ages 0-6 years old. She is a New Jersey native and currently resides in Colorado with her husband and 4 daughters (ranging from 18 months to 6 years old). She enjoys spending time with her family, the Jersey Shore, music, traveling with her husband + kiddos and on the rare occasion, sitting down to read a murder mystery book.