3 Sleep Goals for your Newborn Baby
The newborn phase, oh what fun! Those first three to four months of your beautiful baby’s life can be especially difficult as you and your baby are learning so many new things!
For your baby, they’re learning things like how to eat and breath and simply stay alive. For you as new parents, you’re learning how to feed your baby, burp your baby, and put your baby to sleep so that you can get some much needed shut-eye as well!
I agree with what many people say that the first 3 months of your baby’s life is really a 4th trimester that you are just trying to survive, but I disagree that there is nothing you can do from the start of your baby’s life to help teach them good sleeping skills.
After all, we’re teaching them how to be good eaters, how to be good poopers, 🙂 why not teach them what we can to be good sleepers?
Please note – I definitely wouldn’t call this ‘sleep training’ with newborns. After all, we cannot – and should not – expect our newborn babies to sleep through the night until a certain age and getting on a consistent schedule can be difficult when newborn sleep is typically very sporadic. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain skills we can encourage our babies to develop from an early age. That’s what I want to share with you today:
3 Sleep Goals for your Newborn Baby.
Goal # 1: Full Feeds During the Day
We want our newborn babies gaining weight steadily and perfecting their nursing / bottle feeding skills. This is very important obviously for their overall health, but also for their sleep schedule.
I encourage all new parents to try to develop an Eat -> Play -> Sleep pattern with their newborns. This means you’re feeding them when they awake from a nap, not when they need to go down for one, therefore preventing a feed-sleep association from forming right from the beginning. Now of course your newborn baby is going to fall asleep sometimes with eating, and that’s completely normal. We just want to not let this happen all the time!
Some parents are astonished to learn that their newborn baby has an awake stamina of about 45-60 minutes. After this amount of time has passed while baby is awake, they are ready for sleep again! So baby wakes up from a nap, you feed them for 15-20 minutes, you play for 25-45 minutes, and then it’s time to put them down for a nap again!
Goal #2: Developing Self-Soothing Strategies
We want to help our babies get on the right track with sleep from the very beginning, which means helping them develop self-soothing strategies as early as possible. This looks much different in a newborn than it does in a 12-month old.
I suggest to parents that they should try putting their newborn baby down awake for just one nap a day. And then allow them a couple minutes to try to make the journey into sleep on their own. Many parents swear that this will never work, but then they try it, and they are pleasantly surprised that baby was able to put themself to sleep on their own! If we never give them the opportunity to try, they can never succeed!
It’s important to keep in mind here that we never want to let baby get so upset and crying so heavily that it then takes much longer to settle them back down. Sooth your baby, comfort your baby when they cry, but give them the opportunity every now and then to make the journey into sleep without your full assistance.
Goal #3: Starting a Bedtime Routine
I think it is a great idea to start a bedtime routine with your newborn right from the beginning of their life. We use routines to signal the body and the brain that sleep is coming and that we’re going to make a transition from an awake state to an asleep state. This is good for any age baby!
It can be difficult to determine when ‘day’ ends and ‘night’ begins with a newborn, so I advise dividing your 24-hour day into two 12-hour chunks. So daytime is 8am-8pm, and nighttime is 8pm-8am. This doesn’t necessarily mean that baby will be asleep from 8pm-8am (but we can hope!), but during ‘night hours’ the lights are dimmed, noises are to a minimum, and we are doing steps to promote sleep for our baby. When it’s ‘day hours,’ we are bringing our baby out into the sunshine, running errands, and conducting more stimulating activities.
A bath can be a wonderful activity to begin your bedtime routine, as it is something so different than anything else that happens physically to baby during the day. And if you can’t do a bath every night, than replacing that with a baby massage can be great for baby. Then following this with putting on pjs, nursing/bottle feeding, reading a story or singing songs, and then into the crib/bassinet.
So now that I’ve given you some goals for how to encourage your newborn baby to develop some healthy sleep habits from the beginning of their life, there’s one more thing that needs to be said:
This is normal! Studies show that 1 out of 5 babies have repeated bouts of crying for no apparent reason. This can be extremely frustrating and worrisome for many new parents, but having the mindset that this is a normal part of the beginning of your baby’s life and that you are doing everything you possibly can to soothe your baby should help calm some of those anxieties. And also keep in mind that it won’t be this way forever! Most unexplained crying spells decrease significantly by 12 weeks of age.
If you have any more questions about your newborn baby or don’t think they are on a good track with their sleep, I would love to hear from you! Give me a call at (712) 269-5676, shoot me an email at email@example.com. You can also book a FREE 15-minute consultation call with me to get some questions answered and learn more! Click the “Book Online” tab.
Sweet Dreams & God Bless You,
P.S. Because Father’s Day is right around the corner and Dad’s need their sleep also, here’s the perfect gift just for Dad: 20% off All Packages!!! Give Dad the Gift of Sleep this year, one that he will treasure and be thankful for for many years to come!
P.S.S. Looking for a fun family outing next weekend? Come join me at the Denver Kids Festival June 18th & 19th from 10am-5pm at the Denver National Western Complex! There will be tons of fun kids activities, amazing prizes, and engaging speakers! I will be presenting my “7 Most Important Sleep Tips For Your Child” each day. You should also come by my booth to enter to win FREE House Cleaning! Tickets for this event are normal $10 for adults (kids under 12 are free), but I am selling tickets for only $5! Contact me to get your discounted tickets right now! 🙂