Long sleep stretches and being a parent don’t always mix. But, here are some tips and encouragement to get you through those newborn months!
People will tell you to enjoy your sleep before having a baby because you will never sleep again.
I want to change that narrative.
First, YOU WILL SLEEP! It just takes some time for your baby to adjust to being in the real world and for you to learn about your baby’s needs. However, to help the process, below you will find some newborn sleep tips to help during this time.
Initially, your newborn may sleep anywhere. They are not bothered by lights and some babies may not even be bothered by sounds. This is great, but consider using some of these tips after one month (or sooner if you’re ready) to reinforce sleep habits. It may be harder to get them to learn to sleep in the environment you want them to (say a bassinet or crib) if we don’t practice earlier.
These newborn sleep tips may also help lengthen their sleep stretches by two months, where they sleep 6-8 hours at a time at night! Give it a try!
Embrace the darkness
When baby is sleeping, make sure it’s dark. Blackout curtains do wonders. During diaper changes/feeding in the middle of the night, keep lights to a minimum. Just enough to do what you need to do and lay them back down.
When baby is awake, allow sunlight and get outdoors as well. Sunlight will help prime them for sleep and help establish that sleep-wake cycle (we sleep during the night and are more awake during the day).
Let baby sleep at night
Once baby has met their birth weight, YOU DO NOT NEED TO WAKE THEM UP TO FEED. Clear this with your child’s clinician if you are unsure. This means that if they are sleeping overnight, let them sleep. If they wake up and are hungry, feed them. For purposes of this rule, nighttime sleep is considered 7pm to 7am, although your baby will not sleep that long at one month of age. By waking them up, we are not meeting them at their own normal sleep rhythm and can inadvertently create wake habits they didn’t have.
Wake up a sleeping baby during the day
Wait, what? I just said to let them sleep! That’s at nighttime. During the day, Wake them up every 2-3 hours to be fed. This rhythm can be possible after one month of age. A great rhythm is offering a feeding at 7 am, 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm, and 7 pm for the daytime feeds. Once breastfeeding is established, this will be their likely routine and can also be used for formula-fed babies! This helps establish that day-and-night confusion that can take six weeks to sort out. Of course, babies may cluster feed or go off this routine, and that’s NORMAL! They’re not robots!
Naps in other locations
To avoid an overtired baby, it’s okay for them to nap where they are comfortable, but remember safety first! If they fall asleep in a swing, you need to be with them the ENTIRE time for safety. This means eyes on them ALL THE TIME. It’s best to practice moving them to an independent safe-sleep space so they can practice sleeping where they should.
The goal is to have all sleep (naps and overnight) be in a bassinet or crib for safety.
If you are struggling to get baby to nap in the crib or bassinet, focus on nighttime first. As this is likely unattended sleep time (you are also sleeping), it is really important from a safety perspective.
Remember, contact naps (naps on you) are okay but for safety, you must be awake the ENTIRE time. From a safety perspective, if you are falling asleep PLEASE move baby to an independent sleep space.
PS: Want more sleep tips?
Great information, but what sleep habits do I start establishing now?
What sleepy cues am I looking for?
My baby slept great for the first two weeks, but they’re having a harder time settling, why?!