After major sleep challenges with big sister, I was determined to start working on healthy sleep habits from the start with our second child. My first postpartum experience helped me to realize that sleep deprivation increases anxiety and overwhelm for me, so it was really important self-care to prioritize healthy sleep for June-bug (featured below). She was just a few days old when we began to gently help her create a foundation of independent sleep.
In some ways this concerned me because I knew that newborns don’t have the ability to soothe themselves when they get overtired or overstimulated. However, I also knew that their brain and body want to link sleep cycles and I trusted that I could help this sweet baby girl stack the building blocks for healthy sleep. One step at a time. With gentleness and respect.
Here are my three favorite tips for newborns 1 day to 1 month old.
Define Night & Day
In the hospital after Baby Sister’s birth, we had a few all-night milk parties where I didn’t sleep more than 3 hours each night. So, I made sure that when we arrived home we started working to shift her midnight fiesta time to a more convenient hour. We kept the room dark for 12 hours at night, and she was swaddled tight. During the day, we made sure to get outside or next to a window for some light exposure and 20-45 minutes of “activity time” before going down for each nap to create a clear routine for our day.
Soon, she learned to cluster feed from 8-10pm and there was a lot more solid sleep happening at night so I could get the rest I was needing to produce all that magical mommy juice.
Getting newborns on an Eat-Play-Sleep routine can be challenging at first, but the more they practice the easier it is. With June-bug I created a mindful routine with each feeding: eye contact, tickling toes, singing a sweet, silly song. Then she did something independent like hanging out on a play mat or in a swing with her big sister to entertain her. After 20-40minutes we would start the nap time routine so that she could have a nice long nap before she woke good and hungry for her next feeding. This helps to avoid what I call “snacking and napping”, which often sets babies up for slower weight gain and short naps that exhaust the whole family.
Create a Cozy Sleep Space
Newborns will learn to sleep better if you can provide them with an environment that promotes their own innate ability to calm themselves. We tucked June-bugs bassinet in the corner of our room where it was nice and dark, but far away from our bed so that our smells and sounds didn’t disrupt her sleep. Add white noise and a cozy swaddle for that cave-like feeling and babies can begin to go to sleep and stay asleep all by themselves very early. Giving newborns the opportunity to practice sleeping independently each day is helpful for building their sleep muscles, even if some of their naps are in a carrier, swing or car.
So many newborn parents resign themselves to exhaustion and sleepless nights until their baby magically learns to sleep at 6 or 10 or even 22 months. But you don’t have to do that! Trust that your child’s brain and body are incredible at learning new skills, especially if they have a confident teacher.
If you’re a dedicated newborn parent who wants to learn more tools and resources for promoting amazing newborn sleepers, please check out my full Newborn Sleep Guide. For parents who want a coach and teacher to support them with a step-by-step process to achieve amazing newborn sleep, check out my 12-week Newborn Sleep Coaching Program.
If you’ve got unique questions or concerns, please schedule a free call with me – I love connecting with new parents to provide reassurance and resources you can use today.